Arts & Entertainment Editor
The arts make up a big part of my life.
I am an avid and voracious reader, music-listener, and TV watcher. I live for behind-the-scenes footage, film documentaries and “making-of” clips about albums and movies alike. I pay attention to my favorite entertainers and performers. I listen to what they say. And I am not alone in that.
The influence of “celebrities,” whether they are musicians or actors, has been compounded by the constantly growing prevalence of social media. And that influence has become as contentious as the environment in America at this moment — an environment where many people seem to be split along political lines.
Most of the time, what celebrities say on their platforms is pretty straightforward. Something along the lines of, “Here’s a preview of my new album or movie, which is coming out soon.” Social media has generally been a place where fans can interact on a more personal level with some of their idols.
But, increasingly in 2020, entertainers have been talking about a lot more than just their craft. They’ve been talking politics, and a significant part of the American population just wants them to stop.
Recently, Rob Thomas, the frontman and primary songwriter of Matchbox Twenty (and one of my all-time favorite musicians), posted a short video to his social media platforms in which he said, “I’m a musician. But more importantly, right now I’m a taxpayer and I’m an American and I want my voice to be heard so I’m going to vote. My biggest fear is that if we lose it will be because of apathy. Go, Biden.”
He then went on to perform one of Matchbox Twenty’s most popular anthems, “How Far We’ve Come,” which is political by nature.
Unsurprisingly, this political move upset a lot of his fans, eliciting many responses from people wishing he would keep his politics to himself.
But why should an entertainer have any less right to speak their beliefs and opinions to their followers than anyone else? Asking them to keep their politics to themselves is filled with irony.
In the ‘60s, music was practically anarchist. There are a great variety of songs that condemn the Vietnam War and the American government for exacerbating it, many of which people don’t even recognize for being anti-war or anti-government songs.
Take “Born in the USA,” for example. It’s a song that is lauded for its patriotism, but in reality, is highly critical of the Vietnam war and the American government.
It seems strange to me that people think that musicians and entertainers should keep their mouths closed on politics when music is and always has been such an avenue for political change and expression.
Billie Joe Armstrong, the frontman of Green Day, is fiercely and publicly against President Trump. To anyone who wishes he would cleanse his Instagram of politics, I would urge them to take a look at some of Green Day’s music. “Revolution Radio,” “Holiday,” “21 Guns,” “American Idiot” — the list goes on.
By its very nature, all forms of art, from music to film, are expressions not only of the artist’s mindset and personality but of the world around them.
To tell an artist, an entertainer or a performer to keep their politics contained simply does not connect with the fact that politics and culture are so tied into the work they do.
Being an artist does not make someone any less of an American or a citizen. Their right — seen by some as a duty — to use their platforms to make their voices heard breaks down to the very core of ‘making it’ in the Arts. The very idea of finding success in the realm of the arts comes from an urge to make your voice heard.
Once an entertainer makes it to a point where his or her voice will echo far and loud, why should he or she be quiet? Art has never, and never will be, created in the void.