How do you feel about celebrities who are outspoken about their political views? Do you think famous people should voice their opinions about politics, or stay out of them? Why?
In “Taylor Swift, Apolitical No More, Endorses Democratic Candidates in Tennessee,” Sarah Mervosh writes about how the pop star broke her political silence in an Instagram post on Oct. 7:
Taylor Swift, the pop music titan who has been notably apolitical in turbulent political times, broke her silence on Sunday and endorsed two Democratic candidates running for election in Tennessee.
In a post on Instagram, Ms. Swift said she planned to vote for Phil Bredesen, who is competing in a tight Senate race against a Republican candidate backed by President Trump, and Representative Jim Cooper, an incumbent who represents the Nashville area.
“I always have and always will cast my vote based on which candidate will protect and fight for the human rights I believe we all deserve in this country,” Ms. Swift wrote, adding that “I cannot vote for someone who will not be willing to fight for dignity for ALL Americans, no matter their skin color, gender or who they love.”
Ms. Swift’s political views had previously been left up to interpretation, and at times her silence was viewed as support for Mr. Trump as well as the alt-right movement. The singer is beloved by some white supremacists, who claim her as an Aryan goddess, and in 2017, her lawyers fought back against a blog post that portrayed her as a white supremacist figurehead.
While it is unclear whom she voted for in the last presidential election — she left fans to speculate based on a sweater she appeared to wear to the polls — Ms. Swift has finally made plain her political values, if not her voting record or party allegiance. She pledged support for L.G.B.T.Q. rights and racial and gender equality.
And in “Kanye West Ends ‘S.N.L.’ With Speech About Trump and Bullying,” Joe Coscarelli writes about Mr. West — who has been much more politically outspoken and is even expected to visit the White House this week:
Kanye West promised that a new album would arrive on Saturday. Instead, he delivered three songs as the musical guest on “Saturday Night Live” and an impromptu monologue at the end of the show mentioning President Donald J. Trump.
Mr. West, wearing a red Make America Great Again hat, continued his foray into off-the-cuff political commentary after the credits rolled for the season premiere, delivering a scattered speech that was cut off from some broadcasts. In footage from the crowd posted to the comedian Chris Rock’s Instagram account, Mr. West can be seen musing on his support of President Trump and urging, “We need to have a dialogue and not a diatribe.”
Mr. West, who is known for delivering similarly improvised addresses during his concerts, said he is often asked how he can support President Trump because “he’s racist.” “If I was concerned about racism,” Mr. West said, “I would’ve moved out of America a long time ago.” He said Democrats were responsible for a plan to take “fathers out the home and promote welfare.” The rapper also mentioned his long-teased presidential aspirations for 2020 and referred to the “one-sided” liberal nature of the entertainment world as the “S.N.L.” cast stood stoically behind him.
Students, read both articles, then tell us:
— Do you think celebrities should weigh in on politics? Why or why not?
— Because they have such large platforms and can be so influential, do you think celebrities have an obligation to speak out about politics? Or is it more responsible for them to remain silent and leave politics to those with more policy experience and knowledge? Why?
— What is the role of celebrity in our society and culture? Do famous figures have a duty to their fans to serve as an escape from reality? Or do they have the right to share their personal beliefs and opinions, like any other citizen? Why do you think so?
— Do you care about your favorite musicians’, actors’, athletes’ or other stars’ political beliefs? Do their opinions about political or social issues influence your own? If so, how so? If not, why not?
— Why do you think fans can be so resistant to hearing stars’ political views? Have you ever changed your opinion about any celebrities or their work based on their political beliefs? If so, when and how? If not, why not?
Students 13 and older are invited to comment. All comments are moderated by the Learning Network staff, but please keep in mind that once your comment is accepted, it will be made public.