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In the past couple of weeks, celebrities have been commenting on the upcoming midterm elections, including Kanye West and Taylor Swift. Should celebrities comment on politics? Two of our staff writers weigh in on the issue. 

Con

Kanye West’s opinions are dragging him down south

Written by Adrian Leal

The artist and the art are two different things, and they should stay that way. As more celebrities are beginning to take a political stance, they are ultimately alienating a portion of their fanbase.

“I don’t want to put you in that spot,” Trump said hesitantly, as Kanye yelled, “I love this man,” during their lunch last week, leaving West in more hot water within the music community for proclaiming his love for President Donald.

Music and film have always been outlets to promote politically charged pieces of art, but never have their positions and opinions been more crucified than now. We live in a divided America, where anybody even remotely agreeing with President Trump is condemned or even black balled.

Kanye West has never been shy to voice his opinion on the current state of the nation, and what people seem to forget is that this isn’t the first time West has taken a political stance.

Back in 2005, before taking the stage at a Hurricane Relief Benefit show, Kanye West said on live television that then President George Bush, “doesn’t care about black people.” This incident went largely unnoticed with no media backlash, only because by 2005 during George W. Bush’s second term, the nation had already acquired a distaste for him, validating the majority of the nations opinion.

However, fans seemed to have stuck around for his arrogant rockstar persona of “YEEZUS,” and even into the lunacy of his actions during the ‘Life of Pablo” sessions, but seem to not support the praise he gives to President Trump, which by doing so, tarnishes his legacy as an artist. Kanye isn’t the only one subject to this treatment, many other artists have garnered media backlash for sharing their political views. Some fans have even gone as far as to burn artists’ music or clothing, which may prove their distaste but ultimately doesn’t do anything. If fans are so repulsed with artists’ actions, the only thing they should do is just not listen to their music.

Fans have already began to react as Kanye West’s newest record ‘YE’ became his lowest selling album yet in his discography. According to Billboard, Kanye West only sold 208,000 units in its first week. In the second week ‘YE’ only sold 78,000 units which marks the second biggest drop of 2018, with a staggering 65 percent sales drop.

Artists are entitled to their opinion and that’s okay, but the moment they associate themselves with a political party, they limit the audience that will see them, or want to see them.  If one labels themselves a specific demographic, it decreases the amount of people to give their art a chance. The sad truth is, if one markets themself with any group, people will knock them off just because of their beliefs, further affecting the quality of art that could be judged accordingly.

Pro

Taylor Swift changes her political ‘reputation’ for the better

Written by Lilit Zakaryan 

In the days following a lengthy Instagram post where Taylor Swift shared her political stance for the very first time, many people lashed out at the popstar in anger and disappointment. Her choice to speak up at this point in time, however, could potentially be the reason why the upcoming midterm elections could have the largest, most impactful young voter turnout yet.

Swift’s name has been tossed into the midst of political debates for years. The interest first came up in 2008 when she denied telling Rolling Stone which political party she associated with. Since then, she has been criticized for staying silent during the 2016 Presidential Elections and the political events that followed.

The political stance of a person, famous or not, is not required to be public information. What people believe in or value as a citizen is their right, whether or not they chose to share that information is entirely up to them.

Therefore, Swift’s decision to get political after over a decade of remaining silent, shows the depth of the pressing issues our country is currently facing, and her plea for people to go out and vote could not have come at a more impeccable time.

Her statement is so much bigger than choosing not to support the Republican party or an endorsement for a Tennessee Democrat. It’s an attempt to show people that the ability to vote is the one sure way to make an impact on the country we live in.

Swift didn’t insist people have to vote for Phil Bredesen for Senate and Jim Cooper for the House of Representatives just because that is who she has chosen to support. She simply told her following, who is composed of many people who have turned 18 since the previous election, that they should contribute by filling out a ballot on November 6.

“Please, please educate yourself on the candidates running in your state and vote based on who most closely represents your values,” she wrote. “For a lot of us, we may never find a candidate or party with whom we agree 100% on every issue, but we have to vote anyway.”

According to Vote.org, more than 65,000 people registered to vote in the 24 hours following Swift’s Instagram post.

Republicans who do not support Swift’s political stance have since lashed out on social media by burning their Taylor Swift merchandise and CDs.

 

Obviously tossing a bunch of pop albums and concert tickets (for which Swift has already collected a check for) into a fire is the most logical solution to American politics. Our country is more divided than ever before.

Amongst those offended by Swift was President Donald Trump, who claimed he “likes Taylor’s music about 25 percent less now” because she endorsed a Democratic Tennessee senatorial candidate.

The political post hasn’t left an irreversible dent in Swift’s career, as many white conservatives claimed it would. In the week following her post, Swift’s album “reputation” saw a 27 percent sales increase, according to Nielsen Music, as many people are elated that someone with such an influential public platform has chosen to impact voter turnout.

Swift’s post is certainly not the answer to all our prayers. It doesn’t magically give power back to Democrats, nor does it erase all the damage done in the last two years. It does, however, give young people a reason to think about politics.

In a new video campaign titled, “Dear Young People, Don’t Vote,” Nail Communications states only 46 percent of people ages 18 to 34 voted in the last election.

Having a mega popstar like Taylor Swift say something is important and makes millions of fans believe that it really is. This, in turn, makes young adults want to play a role in politics— whether it’s showing up to vote sites in November, pre-registering to vote before turning 18, or even something as simple as Googling nominees to understand what they stand for.

Swift’s motive was never to hate on Republicans, nor was it to praise Democrats. She instead is hoping to get the younger generation involved in politics, no matter the political stance, and that is something we as a country have unanimously failed to do so.

Chart showing the the lack of young voter turnout in the United States over the years, via The Washington Post.

Swift has been sharing photos of voters all week long who have taken advantage of the ability to vote ahead of the midterm elections, furthering her efforts to convince young folks to fill out their ballots. Even the slightest possibility to be featured on Taylor Swift’s Instagram Story is enough incentive to make people want to register to vote. Her sudden political stride is far from disappointing. If anything, it’s a brilliant method of marketing—a way to integrate fan/artist connection, with detrimental civic duty.

Screenshots of people featured on Swift’s Instagram, many of whom are first-time voters.

This November, millennials will make up the largest voting bloc for the first time. If half of the voters actually vote, it would be the largest turnout for a Midterm Election in over a decade.

The political issues this country is currently facing shouldn’t have to be a battle between the right and left. The United States of America is one entity and we owe to ourselves as Americans to collaboratively choose the person who is best fit for a role that will allow them to leave an impermeable positive impact on this place we call home, by showing up to voting polls.

For information about the upcoming Midterm Elections in California, visit http://voterguide.sos.ca.gov.

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