There comes a time in all of our lives when we really start to
think for ourselves. We say to ourselves, “I am my own person, and
I can form my own opinions. I know enough about the world to decide
what’s right and what’s wrong.”
Well, we can form our own opinions, but do we? When it comes to
the political aspect of our culture, we citizens tend to turn to
anybody for suggestions, except for the people who should have the
most influence – the politicians.
Even though politicians are elected to help us, we let actors,
musicians and other cultural “elites” have too great of an impact
on our society’s political opinions.
We don’t turn to our governor or even our president for
guidance. We look to sources like the Dixie Chicks, Susan Sarandon,
Dustin Hoffman and Julia Roberts.
Our society seems to think that just because Martin Sheen plays
a president on TV, he has valid political ideals. Sheen was quoted
in a radio interview saying, “George W. Bush is like a bad comic
working the crowd, a moron, if you’ll pardon the expression.”
Whatever happened to patriotism?
I have always been under the impression that actors and
musicians are entertainers, working to entertain the masses. Yet,
somehow, pop culture demands that these entertainers step up and
tell Americans just what’s wrong with our country. I’m sorry, but
where did Mr. Sheen say he got his political science degree
Author and radio talk show host Laura Ingraham makes several
well-founded arguments in her book “Shut Up and Sing: How Elites
from Hollywood, Politics and the UN are Subverting America.”
Ingraham states: “But invariably their intelligence relates to one
line of work – acting. Their experience is in the world of
entertainment, interpreting their roles on stage and screen. Unless
they have had other important professional experience (in business
or politics), their artistic know-how does not make them
well-suited to address, let’s say, universal health care.”
I guess it all boils down to one question: Why are entertainers’
opinions so important to us? Whether in the arena of politics or
not, we trust actors and musicians to lead the way for us in doing
what’s “right.” Do we place unseemly amounts of trust in them
because they’re famous or because they really seem like wholesome,
ethical people? It’s always easier and somewhat smarter to trust
someone who is a morally upright citizen, so wouldn’t it make more
sense for us to trust performers who aren’t getting into trouble?
If an actor does something wrong (for example, Sean Penn and his
many forays into the world of assault and battery), do we stop
agreeing with his or her beliefs? No! No matter how immoral and
unethical they behave, we still think they know what’s best. Would
we do the same with our neighbors? No, we wouldn’t. And why not?
Because they’re not famous.
As citizens, we take entertainers’ words to heart, and we
respect what they have to say. But is it the same for them? Do they
respect the American public? According to the article “You (and
Bush) Are Likely Too Dumb for This” by Howard Mortman of MSNBC,
famous actors think the average American citizen is an idiot.
Several actors and other celebrities are quoted as saying that
Americans are “lunatics, ignorant people, dummies – even dumb
puppies.” If we, as citizens, are going to respect the opinions of
celebrities, isn’t it only fair that they also respect us? Maybe
this just shows that you can’t always trust what you see on TV.
As a nation, we need to let entertainers do their jobs and leave
the politicians to theirs. Our president and Congress have been put
in place for a reason. They make the laws that govern our country
and protect our freedom. Were actors elected to do that? If they
were, I didn’t get that memo.
Danielle is a sophomore studying technical journalism. She is a
copy editor for The Collegian. dr.Hudson@ColoState.EDU