Celebrities are are typically not silent when it comes to politics. However, pop-country crossover celebrity Taylor Swift has kept silent over the years regarding her political beliefs. That all changed when she posted an Instagram picture on Oct. 7 stating that she cannot support any political figure who will not protect and fight for human rights. The words she wrote did not blatantly tell us whether she was a Democrat or a Republican, only that she believes in the fight for LGBTQ+ rights, women’s rights and the fight to end racial discrimination. Why is it such a big deal for Swift to finally voice her political opinions since the 2016 election? It is because, whether we like it or not, celebrities play a large role in our lives as young people. Every time we open our social media accounts, we find more reasons to worship (or roll our eyes at) today’s pop stars, rappers and television personalities.
Celebrities can certainly make us want to gouge our eyes out, but I believe that celebrities can pose as role models for the younger generation. Besides the people in our families, these are the people we tend to look up to. Ever since I was in elementary school, I have viewed Taylor Swift as a role model because she received a recording contract at age 16, making her one of the youngest women to ever be signed to a record label. As a music major who has worked for years to have my personal music heard by more than 30 people, I have to say her story is impressive. But, since the 2016 election that sent myself and many others into a four-year state of sadness, I always wondered why one of my most prominent childhood role models never spoke out about today’s political climate. In the back of my mind, I told myself it did not matter what Swift’s political views were, because her music and her hunger for success were what made me respect her initially. But so many of my other celebrity icons voiced their political beliefs even before the results of the 2016 election. Many thoughts went through my head, that perhaps Swift voted for Donald Trump and was afraid to speak out, or that she simply did not have an opinion or care. On Jan. 21, 2017, Swift tweeted her support for the Women’s March, and her pride in being a woman. This tweet surprised me, though her silence on politics was still not necessarily broken. It did not make me respect her more, or make me believe she was a liberal. In fact, it more so confused me and made me respect her slightly less. Thousands and thousands of young girls look up to you, Taylor. What message are you sending to your fans if you cannot come out of the dark and tell us what your political party is?
In 2018, it is common for celebrities to preach their political beliefs. Typically these views are left-leaning, but we have few public figures on the opposite side of the spectrum, such as Swift’s nemesis Kanye West. West is not exactly a sane or decent human being, making it difficult to have an inch of respect for his controversial political beliefs. Meanwhile, extraordinary celebrities with big hearts and undying devotion to their fans deserve respect in all aspects, especially those with strong political beliefs. Ariana Grande, for example, has endured much pain since the Manchester Arena Bombing on May 22, 2017 and the death of her ex-boyfriend, Mac Miller. However, she still wakes up everyday, performs and has even held a benefit concert in that very arena for the victims of the bombing. In addition to her courage and empathy, Grande is a die-hard liberal who has spoken about women’s and LGBTQ+ rights. Grande is one of my newest celebrity role models because it is no secret that she wants happiness and equality for every human being. Who wouldn’t want that, anyway?
Keeping your political beliefs a secret isn’t the worst mistake you can make as a celebrity. However, it may alter fan’s opinions of you. For Taylor Swift, her devoted fans are either going to love her even more or turn on her. For me personally, I have started to search for new celebrity role models who have stood up for everything I believe in since the beginning of this downward spiral.