Hollywood & Politics: A Good Match?

This week’s topic focuses on hollywood celebrities, their political clout, and its usefulness.  Recently Actor Sean Penn won the Best Actor Oscar for his role as Harvey Milk in the Movie Milk.  First off, I have seen the movie Milk and think Penn did an Oscar-worthy job (although I was pulling for Mickey Rourke for his role in The Wrestler).  His ACCEPTANCE SPEECH was filled with his political views as not only an individual but the icon that he is.  Another Celebrity Star, Kanye West, used his celebrity status on an NBC Fundraiser for Katrina Victims (watch this VIDEO) to highlight the atrocities occurring in on the Gulf Coast after the levees failed to hold in New Orleans, LA.

Don’t misunderstand I believe the message contained in the movie Milk and Kanye West’s words  highlight serious the problems occurring in our nation.  At the same time, I sometimes wonder how serious Hollywood is about all our social problems in the world? After all, some of the same celebrities continue to accept acting salaries of $20 million per movie, which makes me question the seriousness of their cause.  Sure Penn and West should be awarded for their talents!  Sure they have freedom of speech to say what they want in America!  But are the Oscar Awards and Katrina Relief Fundraising Shows the venues for political speak or merely a time to give out movie awards and raise money for flood victims? What do you think?

24 responses to “Hollywood & Politics: A Good Match?”

  1. Jacob Johnson says:

    I actually was watching both of these live when they happened, unfortunately I don’t think that either of these individuals knows what their talking about for one. These people are paid to make movies, and because they are rich and famous they are given the camera time to sometimes talk about issues when they should for the prospect of losing fans probably keep to themselves. They are no different than you and me, besides the fact that they have a camera pointed at their face and millions of people happen to be watching and listening to their every word. I know it is not very nice to say, but many actors in Hollywood are very uneducated.

    Many of them struggled to finish high school and very few have ever attended college, so I don’t know how a person can listen to what they have to say and expect it to sound intelligent in some instances. Penn is actually a very knowledgeable person, and he spoke very well but on the other hand, Kanye West was very out of line in my opinion and was probably speaking more from emotion than anything else which can always cause some problems.

    Overall, I think that these celebrity’s managers should do a better job of making sure they don’t address political issues in any acceptance speech or public address they are involved with. It can only make for hard feelings, and in most forums, political views are better kept to one’s self.

  2. I think that celebrity’s often forget that the basic public listen to every word that they say and watch their every movement that they make. The public believes every thing that comes out of their mouths, without stopping to think if it is a true fact of information or not.

    I think it was very rude of both of them to say what they said when they said it. Penn was there to accept an award for an accomplishment for a movie not to preach his view points on gay marriage or the new president.

    Kayne West proved his uneducated was of life by claiming that “Bush hates black people!” That is 100% not true, and where did he even get that? I understand that he was upset, and felt that the people stranded there were not treated fairly but I didn’t physically see him trying to change it. He just claimed to be giving “as much as he could” but did we ever see it happening?

    Overall, I think that celebrity’s need to stop and think before they do things because little do they know the rest of the world is watching them.

  3. Sara Lind says:

    If American citizens get all of their political information from celebrities then there is a major issue. I think this, in a sense, is a way to get people more involved in our political culture. Sean Penn in no way is an expert, but he surely does have the right to speak his opinion. Furthermore, his speech was relevant to the movie he acted in to receive that award. If he wanted to use the stage as an opportunity to voice his opinion, you can either change the channel or listen to it. I do not think it is that big of a deal. Also, I have more faith in people to make rational decisions and to be able to think on their own. Maybe he was just giving a voice to gays?
    As for Kanye’s remarks, I really do not think he was protected under the First. In fact, I am pretty sure Bush could have sued him for slander if he really wanted to.
    At any rate, I think celebrities can be really annoying when it comes to politics because their opinions mean nothing to me and hypocrisy is apparent. However, there is really nothing you can do about it. If an actor wants to take a political stance that is up to them, but I think it is important to note that they also have to take into account how it could affect their careers. I honestly just could care less and their opinions probably do not have that much affect on educated individuals.

  4. Loy Vang says:

    Information that comes out of celebraties usually lead fans astray with false information or opinion on political issues. I think that people with the status of “celebrities” are highly looked up upon while others who are educated in other fields aren’t being noticed at all. Most of the time, I think that celebrities are doing things or saying things just for the money and for the fame of their title/career. It is hard to say what celebrities are voicing for, but as far as political speaking goes, it is truly up to the person.

  5. Kelly Ross says:

    I think any time you listen to the opinions of others it can cause problems. When you listen to others you can loose your own voice and your own vocies. Celebrities are no different from you or I besides they have more money and more opportunitee to share their opinions to the public. They are free to say what they think but you and I do not have to listen and we do not have to agree with what they say just because they are celebrities. I think on certain political issues celebrities should keep their opinions to themselves because they are held higher to some people and some people will follow their views just because of who they are.

  6. Anna Wasmund says:

    An area of greatest concern and agitation for me lies when some celebrity (E.g: Oprah) promotes a presidential candidate or portrays a specific view on an issue and people (fans) somewhat blindly follow that celebrity.

    Some fans put some type of unthinking devotion to particular celebrities. When Oprah Winfrey promotes a certain product in one of her shows, it is known that the company she is promoting runs completely out of their product due to buyers who are followers of Oprah. Just because Oprah says it is great MUST mean it is great!

    The legitimacy of the Hurricane Katrina video was completely destroyed with Kanye West’s blatant statement about Bush hating blacks. The message or need for help that they were trying to convey flew right past me once West said what he did…His statement completely distracted me from the message of the broadcast. It was ridiculous and shows a celebrities’ (sometimes) narrow view and/or inability to draw focus to the real issue at hand.

  7. Jay Stokes says:

    Sean Penn=great speaker. Kanye West=ummm…

    Sean Penn first,
    My favorite movies are ones that bridge the gap between entertainment and philosophy. I have not seen Milk, but I will sometime soon. I really appreciate that Penn voices his opinion and isn’t scared of reticule. I agree with what Penn said, but just because I agree doesn’t make it right. What he said is right because it’s about justice, fairness and progress. There is no downside to letting gays marry. If you think there is, I’d be glad to hear it.

    Kanye West,
    It’s good that famous black rappers (or anyone) care about national issues. But I wonder if he only cares about because he believes “Bush Doesnt Care About Black People”? He seems like it is not the issue that the Red Cross is dealing with or the message the campaign wants to get across. Now, does Bush care about black people? I don’t know… I feel like he should. He should care about everyone… I did like mike Meyers face after kanye said that. And then they cut to chris rock… oh man.

    Well, do they need $20 million? No way! But if they do something good with it, then great.

    Entertainment will always thrive, no matter how poor ‘we’ are. Think about the depression.

  8. Katie Francour says:

    I think that it’s fine for them to talk about politics or whatever they’d like during those times. When accepting their awards they are free to say whatever they like and if that is how they choose to use their time then I’m all for it. People can listen if they want to or ignore what they’re saying if that’s what they’d like. Either way it isn’t stepping over any boundaries that I can see. I would like to think that even though these guys do get paid tons and tons of money to do what they do, that some of them still do have good hearts. I know that is not true with a lot of actors, but I’d like to think that there are some good people out there that would be good no matter what career they are in. I think that they are just doing what they can to try and help America in tough times.

  9. Jessica Mesmer says:

    I think that while these celebrities may feel they are bringing up issues in society so people realize what’s going on, I think they choose the wrong time and place to say it. It is true the public and fans of these celebrities are always listening to what they are saying, but again, there is a time and a place. Are they really trying to address the problems in our society, or are they just trying to get credit for the ways they are speaking out? They get paid a lot of money and spend a lot of it on useless stuff. They should take some of that money and put it towards funding some of the issues they are trying to speak out about. These celebrities should really stop and think about the things they are saying and when they are saying as to when it is appropriate to use their words. They should also choose their words very carefully and not out of anger or spite in any situation.

  10. Brianne Coffey says:

    I was surprised to hear Sean Penn make the comment about Prop-8. I’m glad he did. As far as Kanye, I think he represents a countless amount of people who agree with what he said about former President Bush not caring about black people. I don’t believe that these comments were offensive. Millions of people share their opinions with the public daily, via blogging, radio shows, television, or in newspapers. However, since Penn and West have celebrity status, their credibility has greater influence on the public.

    Darfur has become a Hollywood issue. George Clooney has been a big advocate and promotor for this social problem. It is amazing how such a classy actor can influence a nation to support him and others to “save Darfur”. There is no doubt that the genocide has to stop.

    I think that fundraising shows and award shows are an excellent marketing tool for actors/writers/producers/etc to bring attention to their causes and not for profit organizations. It just trumps the college student, local nfp organization trying to bring awareness to their causes as well. Since as a civilian or regular Jane, I cannot compete with the millions of dollars celebrities have to use for attracting supporters. I think that there are worth-while social problems that non-celebrities are exploring to create “relief”. Without that celebrity status, influencing others to support you is much harder.

  11. Susan Crans-Hunt says:

    First of all I think it is fine for both of these celebrities to share their opinions as we live in a culture that it is legal to do so and all of should do so. However, the way in which it was done was completely different. I think Penn’s speech was elegant and planned and West’s speech was emotional and not thought about. The venues were different, which elicited very different emotions from those that gave the speech and those that witnessed the speech.
    As I think it is fine for the celebrities to voice their opinions and beliefs, it is up to the people that are listening to be sure they evaluate how they feel about the topic. One shouldn’t be swayed simply because these people have the ability to spread their words through the media venue. It is up to us to stand up for what we believe. It is up to us to do the research on topics before we believe someone simply because of the roll they play, or a song they sing.
    The amount of money they make per movie or song has always been a bone of contention for me. However, it is no different then the Professional Football player (or basketball player) that makes millions to play a game. I just wish all of them would realize that the choices they make and the things they do and say are looked upon by some as the “gospel.” We are all held accountable for our actions and this should be the same for all!

  12. Betsy Beck says:

    I feel as if celebrities are only doing what the rest of us would be, if we were in their shoes. They are voicing their opinion about something that they feel is important to them, and using their fame to make it known how they feel. I am not saying that what and when they say it is always appropriate. I competely agree with Penn in his belief in equality, so it is hard for me to criticize his words, no matter when he decides to share them. On the other hand I thought that Kayne was a little out of place. Obviously there was a much more important issue at hand, but I would hope that people aren’t going to judge Bush on just one comment. I also think that if they are going to be opinionated then they should back their words. It is true that they make far more money than we could ever dream of, but if they are putting some of this money toward making society a better place, then who are we to be critical.

  13. Lindsay Ellifson says:

    It’s a mixed bag for me….it goes both ways. There are some celebs who do tremendous things to forward charitable causes, while others may hold certain positions for more recognition/to promote recognition for themselves under the guise of being benevolently involved. I believe that we’re all lured in some sense by the glamour of hollywood, and what celebrity’s have to say does have an impact on our youth and impressionable minds, however; I feel that as critically thinking adults and “sociologists” we have to use our own sensors/monitors to establish our own positions on issues, rather than take full stock into what people, who are just people (though they have way more money than you or me) have to say.

  14. Elisabeth Callahan says:

    Because Penn’s political issues he mentioned in his acceptance speech were relevant to his rewarded movie i think his opinions were appropriated. He also spoke eloquently, and i do believe Penn is a very educated man. If I was in the public spot light I would do my best to help support a cause i believed in.
    Brad Pit, Angelina Jolie, Leonardo Dicaprio, and Bono are just some celebrities I look up to with their charity work and political activism.
    While West’s claims were poorly spoken i think just the fact that he is getting involved is a good sign. Of course he may not no half of the issue at hand his capacity to inspire people that may not normally be inspired is what he can offer. I do think his Bush comment was way out of line and that sort of talk does nothing for anyone.
    One thing I think celebrities need to remember if they choose to voice their political beliefs is that there is a time and place for everything, and because they are in the spot light they need to choose their words carefully.

  15. Lindsay Pethan says:

    I think that celebrities or anyone for that matter has a right to voice their opinion. It is our job as individuals to choose what to listen to and who to listen to. I think that anyone wanting to voice their opinion needs to have a understanding of what they are talking about before making their opinion public. It only makes them look ignorant if they lack the background knowledge.

    Celebrities however need to remember they are in the spot light and are going to be critized more often than a “normal” citizen. They need to choose what they say and when they say it very carefully. I believe that what Kayne said was taking away from the real message. That was not the right time to voice his political views.

  16. Peter Fields says:

    I think the Oscars and Katrina fundraising shows should be just used for their appropriate purposes. Despite millions of viewers watching, it’s not the time to make personal political remarks. In Sean Penn’s case, however, I think it was justifiable to speak briefly about his political views considering he was in a movie with such a controversial topic. In addition to doing this movie, Penn presumably had a strong affiliation with gay rights. Given Kanye West’s educational background-dropped out of college-and his career, I think it’s safe to say that his political views are completely stupid and ridiculous. Good job for embarrassing yourself on national television. Next time get a more intelligent celebrity who can speak effectively and refrain from making personal political comments.

  17. Steffany Olaciregui says:

    Well in my opinion, i think that celebrities should not talk about political or social problems for many reasons. One of them is that half of them do not know what they are talking about because they are not well informed about the topic. I also think that they should keep their personal thoughts to themselves it can hurt their careers because not everybody will think the same way as them especially those well educated and informed about the topics. A lot of celebrities should be aware that they are a public figure everybody is watching their every move and people who admire them listen to what they have to say so they should be more prepared about what they have to say or do not speak at all. In my opinion I think that celebrities do not care about social problems because they are rich and have nothing to worry about because they got everything or much more they deserve. Doctors, Lawyers, and those who work hard for an education should be getting paid millions of dollars instead of actors or singers.

  18. Scott Thellefsen says:

    Yeah I’m not sure how serious celebs are about world problems. I’m sure that they are serious if, lets say, that kanye was from somewhere where Katrina hit or something like that, but other than that I’m not 100% if they really care about it as much as they do or if it is for them to seem more “normal”. Those might not be the right outlets to say things but at least they are trying. It is better for them to at least get the word out than to say nothing at all besides give me my money.

  19. Ashley says:

    Personally i think that it is okay that celebrities voice their opinion on things. But i do not think that something people are watching for entertainment is the place to do that. People watch the Oscars for fun, and they probably dont want to be reminded of the fact that our economy is horrible. I also think it is horrible that Kanye is making millions, yet he is talking to the public (the people suffering) about the economy. I guess i just dont understand it!

  20. rachel woodford says:

    they have their opinions, yes, i think that these times are when they should maybe say their opinion but yet keep it to a minimum some, many people are easily influenced by what they say but i just don’t think they should use it as a time to state their side, maybe on their own time state their views but not during a national televised airing. if they are having such a problem with the social problems why not donate some of their millions to assist in the problems instead of just saying what they think, there needs to be more action behind their words. i can not, in any way, seem to link bush to the hurricane katrina. he should be trying to help out the victims of the storm rather than saying comments, people listen to what they say so they should choose their words carefully and as for the money they make it is way high but we are the ones who keep putting into the entertainment industry so not much we can in that part…
    as s

  21. Brian Cacic says:

    I don’t really think that letting your political beliefs be known in public settings such as the Oscars is a bad thing. Celebrities have freedom of speech too and because of their status they have opportunities to let their opinions be known in front of large audiences. Also I don’t think it is right to criticize people such as Kanye West for expressing their concern for the victims of Hurricane Katrina on the basis that he has to much money. Do people really expect him to turn down multi-million dollar deals? And just because someone has money I don’t understand why people think they can’t be sensitive to people having a hard time.

  22. David Hanizeski says:

    I think that when celebrities talk about political issues it is their way to try and relate with a population that they cannot relate to. I think they maybe call our attention with these issues because they want people to not think they are money grubbing selfish jerks. It makes alot of sense for them to concern themselves with this because then people give them whatever support they need because they think “O hes just like everybody else”. I however think that some celebrities truly do care. You could tell how emotional West was when he gave that speech, but putting more blame on other people only makes for more biased beliefs. For the others I still think that for them to gain the hearts of the audience, they have to act like they are apart of the audiece.

  23. Julia Fessler says:

    I feel that although these people may make millions of dollars a year, some things that they do are truley genuine. These people are to me, very bold by representing different causes because there is ALWAYS going to be controversy over if for instance, gay rights are right or wrong, but by having these celebrities supporting certain ideas and really standing their ground, I feel that it helps other citizens to stand up and support the things that they believe in. I think that a lot of times, citizens that aren’t any specific public figure or don’t have a “name” in todays society feel silenced by opinions of people higher in “Standing” than others.

  24. Tiffany Anderson says:

    I had heard about Kanye’s remark but that was the first time I had actually seen that clip. I found the look pretty amusing on Mike Myers face when he heard Kanye say, “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.” I do feel that everyone has the right to voice their opinion but at the same time celebrities have to be careful to monitor themselves. I think Kanye spoke out of anger, as he is known to do, and didn’t think rationally. Being in the public spotlight that is going to draw a lot of attention and there are so many brainless people out there that are going to side with whatever he says just because he is a celebrity.
    As for Sean Penn. Yes he probably does really care about the cause but I feel that he probably also felt compelled to say something about the topic of gay marriage because of the nature of the movie. Also, since he made multiple million dollars for the role it really makes me wonder if his motivation was the money and Oscar potential or the cause itself? I feel that yes it was necessary to touch on the topic given what the movie was about. I do support gay rights but at the same time I feel that wasn’t the appropriate time to grill people that have different opinions than him.

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