Best Of The Web
“Taylor Swift made headlines this October by becoming the most awarded female artist in the history of the American Music Awards. Along with her heightened prominence came Swift’s increased presence in politics. After refraining from discussing politics throughout her career, Swift broke her silence, joining hundreds of celebrities — Katy Perry, Jane Fonda, Leonardo DiCaprio, to name a few — in vocalizing their opinions about the current state of affairs. Celebrities have always used their popularity and fan base to influence the public in some way. However, the 2016 election and Trump’s subsequent policies seem to have galvanized stars from across the political spectrum to speak out and state their opinion — any opinion. While celebrities can increase the public’s awareness of certain issues with their mass appeal and broad reach, they often oversimplify complex issues, including intricate social, political, and economic dynamics, to present an easy, catch-all solution.
That is not to say that politicians do not do the same; very rarely are policies fully fleshed out in the media, and often lawmakers themselves do not know exactly what they are voting on. Still, this does not mean that celebrities, if they are going to choose to speak out on controversial topics, should not strive to be as informed on these topics as they possibly can. This has especially important implications considering the main demographic that these celebrities reach through their social media presence: young adults. These individuals tend to heavily rely on social media, often as the main news source (Pew estimates that 88% of the population aged 18-24 use some sort of social media.) Celebrities must take care that the messages they craft are informed and nuanced. Often, that is difficult to accomplish due to the platforms that celebrities utilize to reach their audience: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter. Limited to 280 characters in a tweet, can stars like Chrissy Teigen and Rosie O’Donnell truly make a substantive argument?
Many celebrities become political activists to fight against some perceived injustice, but some do it for less noble purposes. Kanye West’s recent visit to the White House was a bewildering amalgamation of hydrogen planes, the 13th Amendment, and GIFs. Still, his erratic behavior, despite receiving heavy backlash, has not been completely damning. Last May, when he took to Twitter to rave about Trump, Twitter users were uncertain whether it was a sign of instability or “a masterful piece of performance.” Regardless, the spotlight was on him just as he released his new albums. President Trump used similar tactics, both on the campaign trail and in office, which ultimately served him well. As psychiatrist Allen Frances concludes, Trump has “been richly rewarded, rather than punished, for his grandiosity, self-absorption and lack of empathy.” The very behavior that might get someone else diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder was what ultimately helped place Trump in the White House. The rise of social media as an effective means of communication and source of news has normalized the outlandish, transforming the way people and their opinions gain recognition in an increasingly crowded sphere. When influencers such as Trump or West are in the national spotlight, it is difficult to distinguish fact from fallacy, rationale from passion. If one cannot tell the difference, then the ideas that the 18.3 million people following Kanye West on Twitter take away from his messages are gravely flawed.”
JJ Best Of The Web
"Trump’s Iran sanctions could work. In the medium term, they’ll make it hard for the country to keep up oil production, satisfy domestic demand, and fund the government."
"CNN dropped the lawsuit when the White House agreed to allow Acosta to regain access, and instituted new guidelines for press conferences. As with of Trump’s other pokes at the Constitution, this one got at the heart of core democratic norms."
"The gulf between liberal U.S. Jews and right-wing Israel now colors our responses to Jews being killed: there's a sliding scale of innocence according to which we rate the victims."
"The Favourite, was a movie I truly wanted to love. Even now, sitting down to write about it a week later, I’m trying in retrospect to make myself love it."
"With lots of money, one can buy special protective technology, hire expensive private guard labor, move to a different place, or simply rebuild one's property if it gets destroyed. But that doesn't mean you will be invulnerable."
"In general, progress has brought about unprecedented prosperity while also making it easier to do harm. But between two kinds of outcomes — gains in well-being and gains in destructive capacity — the beneficial ones have largely won out."
"Some women successfully free themselves from emotional labor, but I don’t want to give up the work of caring. I just want others to care as well."
"In 1930, John Maynard Keynes predicted that, by the end of the century, technology would have become so far advanced that developed economies would have a 15-hour workweek. So how did we get to our current state...?"
"Thanksgiving is the perfect time for you to give it a try. Before the big day, practice discussing a couple of difficult topics with Angry Uncle Bot, a chat program created to help teach you the techniques."
"As a mother, I care about serving nutritious meals to my family. As a dietitian, I know better than to overpay for meaningless "GMO free" labels."
"Under the right conditions, proteins can survive for millions of years. In recent years, proteomic studies of art works and archeological remains have yielded biological information of startling clarity..."
"Last week, Israeli media reported of rioting Haredim onboard an El Al plane. The true story turned out to be very different, and deeply revealing."