Does Celebrity Breed Passivity?
I recently read an article about Kendall Jenner in The New Yorker (of all things) that addressed the star's "profound silence" despite her immense platform, influence and potential to stand as a spokesperson for issues of import. Especially in light of the model's recent turn in Pepsi's tone-deaf protest ad, which was pulled off the air within 24 hours under accusations of being insensitive and for trivializing protest culture, Jenner has remained silent, avoiding social media or formal apologies in favor of protecting her own privacy (and partying at Coachella).
This all begs the question of whether or not celebrities like Jenner–and her slew of famous friends and colleagues within the fashion, music and entertainment industries–should be held more responsible for utilizing their highly public profiles as platforms for positive action, change and leading by example.
While stars can receive backlash for doubling as spokespersons for issues about which they feel passionate–or at least feign passion for–their public pull and ability to draw press and media coverage can be a crucial asset for platforms or organizations that otherwise struggle to raise awareness for their causes. Emma Watson's advocacy for women's rights and equality through HeForShe or Karlie Kloss' efforts to jumpstart young girls' interests in the STEM fields, for instance, have lent social and political issues incredible allure for young people.
Kendall should have taken the time to actually attend a Women's March earlier this year or become a more vocal supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement instead of starring in an advertisement that belittles protest culture. With respect to her current track record, the model's interest in social activism appears entirely contingent on the preservation of her reputation. Her efforts to raise awareness to stop gun violence, encourage people to vote or respect women, for instance, have culminated in a series of nicely edited YouTube videos rather than protesting, fundraising or campaigning on Capitol Hill.
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