Common culture

Greg Smith, Opinions/Managing editor

Taylor Swift just endorsed Phil Bredesen in the Tennessee U.S. Senate race. While this may sound like blasphemy to some: I do not care in the slightest.


Swift is a musician, some would say a talented one. And while I may like some of her songs, I don’t care what she thinks about politics.


For reasons that escape me, Americans confuse celebrity and cultural success with competence. Actors, comedians, athletes, and the like seem to think that the way they see the world is deeply important.


A lot of people treat politicians as celebrities, so to some, it may seem natural to trust celebrities for political advice. The fact of the matter is that we take these people far too seriously, as do they. This trust is misguided, mistaken and sad.


First of all, making money from singing or acting obviously doesn’t make one any smarter. Arguments from authority have always seemed lazy and annoying to me, especially when there isn’t really much footing for the authority in the first place. I don’t care at all what Mark Ruffalo or Amy Schumer think about politics. They rarely try to convince people of anything or go beyond saying their opinions like they’re just the truth and don’t need any evidence. I will still go on enjoying Ruffalo’s work, because he is a decent actor. I will continue to pay no attention at all to Schumer, because she has never made me laugh.


There’s very little that is not involved in politics these days when it comes to media and entertainment. We can’t enjoy very much together as Americans once could. And now more than ever, we need things that can make us laugh and be entertained, whatever we think about politics. “The Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson and Jay Leno was completely different from the show now, or Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel, or “Saturday Night Live.” Today’s late night show hosts only focus on advancing their political agenda. Their work only has the potential to reach half the country, at best. Even worse, there cannot be something that Americans with diverse viewpoints all tune into each night and can discuss and enjoy together as long as Kimmel, Trevor Noah and Colbert only have one topic to tell jokes about.


The way politics has leaked into entertainment and colored nearly all of it one way or another is similar to the deterioration of a common set of universally agreed-upon facts that used to exist in politics. When no one media outlet is trusted by everyone to report the whole story fairly, it’s no wonder that our discourse will become polarized and tiring.


Celebrities are free to say whatever they like. But they, like all of us, are more than capable of saying dumb things. Just because someone might make good music or movies doesn’t mean they’re right on politics.