Taylor Swift’s recent Instagram post urging voter registration for the Tennessee midterm elections shocked many about her sudden engagement with politics. Some reactions were positive, filled with admiration for the pop star, whilst others found Swift’s newfound voice rather absurd, often pointing at her young fan base and career choice to discredit her opinion. Celebrities using social media to express their political opinion is not an unfamiliar concept, so why is one megastar causing so much uproar?
Twitter serves as an accessible outlet for the voices of celebrities such as Chris Evans and Lana del Rey, who have often turned to the platform to express their concerns with the current political climate in the United States. It doesn’t require as much effort as writing and producing a song, as done by Childish Gambino and repeatedly carried out by Bob Dylan. Perhaps it’s a more accessible alternative to creative outlets and can cause as much of a reaction as the next “This is America” or “Hurricane.” However, frequent tweeting about political affairs may often result in a lack of shock value often needed to grab society’s attention.
Furthermore, it provides an alternative to how we digest our information and approach discourse. We no longer have to rely on the mainstream media and localised protests as the main showcase of political opinion. Although the physical acts of rebellion performed by celebrities have died down, there is a certain beauty to the angry voice that has arisen amongst the famed, especially when looking at Taylor Swift’s recent Instagram post.
Swift has always been rather apolitical, choosing the role of the bystander rather than of the activist. However, the current midterm elections in her home state of Tennessee have obviously changed Swift’s approach. Her worries lie with the state senate candidate Marsha Blackburn, who has a rather consistent past of voting against congressional motions that would benefit members of the LGBTQ+ community and help alleviate the burdens often faced by women within society.
Moreover, celebrities aren’t the only ones who know the influential effects of social media activism. Figures such as U.S. President Trump often find themselves using the 280-character count to harness their opinions on a rather impulsive whim. Direct attacks are often seen flying in from all sides, often sparking feuds that mix the political with the personal.
Overall, I congratulate Taylor Swift on her bravery. The transition from silent to vocal will always come with a backlash, and she has handled her critics with grace. Social media has given us a new platform for voicing our concerns. Not only is it making it easier for us to express our dissatisfaction with the actions of certain political leaders, but it forces others to take notice of differing interpretations of what is going on in the world. Whether it’s listening to Kanye West’s enthusiasm for #MAGA, or Danny DeVito’s attempts at encouraging voter registration, we find ourselves exposed to the opinions of our comrades and our foes.