I believe that celebrities can influence social issues effectively both negatively and positively. Celebrities in the 21st century have expanded to global political and international diplomacy. An example was when Jude Law- an English actor who does both film and theatre. His international fame came for his role in Anthony Minghella’s The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999) in which he has won the BAFTA Award for the best actor in a supporting role for it- attempted to negotiate on the ongoing war in Afghanistan. The war in Afghanistan started on 7 October 2001 with the invasion of Afghanistan by the United States of America. The war aims to dismantle al-Qaeda and removing the Taliban from power. Jude Law called for militants, foreign forces and the Afghan government to give up their arms for one day as the first step towards peace.
The English actor in an effort for peace, travelled throughout the “troubled region” mainly south Afghanistan where he had promoted peace to the people there in hopes that the weapons they hold in their hands would fall silent. The process was made into a documentary- “The Day After Peace” which was premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. Following after, the actor returned back to Afghanistan where he met with President Hamid Karzai, top NATO and UN officials and members of the aid community in which he played the documentary and highlighted support for the people during the meeting. Though the war in Afghanistan is still ongoing, it might not be a stretch to say that the meeting did help in diffusing a little of the tension. Another example was when current United States President Donald Trump’s response to the humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico was criticized by Barbadian singer Rihanna. Rihanna has won Grammy Awards since her first in 2008 and four consecutive IRAA multi-platinum studio albums with many of her songs topping the US Billboard right from its release.
Rihanna raised opinions on the state of the People of Puerto Rico on her social networking sites. Following Hurricane Maria- a category 5 major hurricane which affected Dominica and Puerto Rico, was one of the worst natural disasters on record with a total of 3,057 fatalities- the U. S. Department of Homeland Security did not immediately waive the Jones Act for Puerto Rico. This resulted in Puerto Rico not being able to receive humanitarian aids from any non-US flagged vessels from US ports. Rihanna, tweeted on Twitter the night of September 28,2017 where she criticized the humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico suggesting that the president was not paying enough attention to the disaster occurring on the island. She believed that the people of Puerto Rico were not getting all the help they needed. In the tweet, she directly mentioned President Donald Trump’s official account. The tweet created a buzz with 351 thousand people and 158 thousand people talking about it on the tweet itself.
An hour later, the Trump administration announced that they would waive the Jones Act for Puerto Rico. Though the decision might not have been in response to Rihanna’s tweet, it is safe to say that the tweet did bring awareness to the state in which Puerto Rico was in. These two examples, can show representation of the influence that celebrities have over international issues. Another positive influence that celebrities have shown is them returning back to the society and environment. For example, Pharrell Williams- a ten-time Grammy Award singer founded Bionic Yarn. Bionic Yarn is a company that creates high-performance yarn and fabric from recovered plastic. Their mission taken from their website is “to make the world a better place with a better product. ” The company aims in transforming recovered plastic into durable materials. Where they address ocean plastic pollution in marine and coastal environments.
They believe that all the resources we consume on Earth should have a positive impact on our society and our natural environment. Thus, turning things that we would discard in our daily lives into raw materials that we can reuse in our daily lives again. Another example is Matt Damon – American actor who is one of the highest grossing actors of all time- co-founded water. org which is a charity that provides safe water and sanitation for communities in need. Water. org’s WaterCredit initiative also provides small loans so more people can gain access to clean water. Water. org has empowered over 13 million people with access to safe water and sanitation through affordable financing. Providing access to water does not only provide a water source for people but it provides a future where they could have an education, economic prosperity and improved health. These examples show how much effort celebrities put in to support causes that they are for.
However, there are also negative impacts in celebrities’ influences. One of which being the cause of low self-esteem in certain groups of people- mainly teenagers. Celebrities are often portrayed to be the benchmarks of beauty standards, many dream to follow and want to be like them. These celebrities are often skinny and underweight being in trend with the current popular body types. Most teenagers would fall prey to having low self-esteem as they are still forming their identities. They often find themselves trying to mimic the lives and appearances of celebrities. In a strive to copy their favorite celebrities, many of these teenagers may result in eating disorders to lose weight, going for plastic surgeries to improve their appearances, as a result spending a lot of money to upkeep themselves. Teenagers in trying to find their identity, start comparing themselves with the celebrities and in such seeing the difference between themselves and the celebrities in which they are unable to keep up with, may result in having low self-esteem. In recent years, there have been new bans and steps being taken into trying to improve the influence on the prevalence of eating disorders. For example, models in Israel will now have to maintain a BMI of 18. 5 or higher is they wish to stay employed as a model.
The new law was set for any models appearing on the catwalk or in advertisements. It also required that ads print a disclaimer if they had digitally altered the models. The specific BMI was set at 18. 5 for according to the World Health Organization, anything below 18. 5 would be considered as underweight and potentially malnourished. I believe that steps such as these are an effective response to the epidemic of eating disorders as many teenagers are idolizing these models and wanting to look like them. I believe that everyone has a part to play in social responsibility. The only difference with celebrities and normal people is that celebrities did not choose to be role models but they are. This is due to the nature of their jobs to be in front of cameras often and being idolized. As such, they have to be aware of their influence and act accordingly for they can positively and at the same time negatively affect others around them.
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