Celebrities are a big deal all over the world. Who is famous changes depending on where you are and who you are talking to, but everywhere has their celebrities. We love them for their skills, their personalities, or their looks, but one thing is for certain: we're obsessed with them.
We often look to celebrities to know how to think and feel about certain topics. That is for better or for worse. In some ways they have too much power. In other ways, they often use that power to bring light to good causes. It can be a mixed bag when it comes to celebrities.
The problem with celebrities speaking out on certain issues is that they might not be equipped to speak on specific topics, and even worse, they might not have anything substantial to add. That might be the case in this new video of multiple celebrities taking a stand against racism.
White celebrities have come together to release a video speaking out against racism. This is of course in the wake of the world wide protests in support of black people and against police brutality. The video, titled #ITakeResponsibility has several celebrities speaking to camera, in black and white, saying that they will be taking responsibility for both casual and overt racism. Some of the stars include Aaron Paul, Kristen Bell, Kesha, Justin Theroux, Debra Messing, Julianne Moore, and Sarah Paulson. All the videos were apparently shot in the privacy of their own homes.
The video was made in partnership with NAACP, and of course to help the messaging, all the celebrities included in the video are white. This is to help drive home the message to other white people to encourage them to “learn more about issues facing the black community.”
In the video, the various celebrities pledge, “I take responsibility for every unchecked moment, for every time it was easier to ignore than to call it out for what it was. Every not-so-funny joke, every unfair stereotype, every blatant injustice, no matter how big or small. Black people are being slaughtered in the streets, killed in their own homes. These are our brothers and sisters, our friends, our family. We are done watching them die. We are no longer bystanders. We will not be idle. Enough is enough.”
The message itself is a positive one. As NAACP President Derrick Johson said in a statement, “In order for us as a nation to get to a better place, we're going to have to adjust how we see each other and engage in open and honest conversations that might be painful at times.”
Although the message is good, the PSA has come under criticism. This video comes in the aftermath of the John Lennon “Imagine” video that various celebrities released in the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic lockdown. The video was received as out of touch. Author Adrienne Lawrence put it best saying, “This video confirms that none of these celebrities have Black friends or advisors within their circles, as they would have told them not to do this.”
It is certainly a difficult time to navigate, and everyone is doing their best, however, people see these actor's actions as opportunistic and narcissistic. On the other hand, these celebrities are putting a spotlight on the issue, which is a good thing no matter what. The celebrities themselves just might not benefit from it, but maybe that's the whole point.