Flat White

The woke wars have made it clear: celebrities aren’t philosophers

19 February 2021

4:05 PM

19 February 2021

4:05 PM

The latest Hollywood cancellation has raised the usual hackles. But the problem is that a vacuum in virtuous authority is being filled by vacuous celebrities.

Gina Carano, a star in the Disney+ sensation The Mandalorian was fired from her role; had her spin-off show cancelled, and was dropped by her talent agency, after a social media post in which she compared America’s polarised politics with Nazi Germany.

Holocaust comparisons are particularly pernicious because they have the combined effect of downplaying a horrific, historical event, while exaggerating present-day concerns.

Our public discourse would be greatly improved if everyone stopped using Holocaust metaphors.

And leave aside the usual tired truism that, ‘private companies can hire and fire whomever they please’ — this does not come close to addressing the issue.

Actors, singers, directors, novelists, anyone in the entertainment industry, is there to do one thing: entertain. Why do we expect them to do anything outside this?

We seem to have imbued our entertainment class with a certain moral authority. We expect them to be thought leaders and to speak on important issues with the wisdom and rhetorical skill of Quintilian.

Interviews with celebrities will regularly delve into areas such as climate change, immigration policy, or myriad other topics.

Hollywood heartthrob George Clooney — best known for looking pretty while pretending to be a doctor — regularly opines on climate change and mocks anyone who disagrees with him.

Cardi B, famous for rapping about the female anatomy, decided this Valentine’s Day to share her musings on chivalry.

Perhaps our desire to elevate celebrities as amateur philosophers is because traditional spheres of moral authority have slowly been eroding.

Once, people might look to religious or community leaders, extended and immediate family, or even historical figures for guidance on how to act.

But as each of these areas has been ‘problematised’ by a world view that does not see any value in history or tradition, people have been left searching.

And the glittering lights of the entertainment business have proven an attractive lure to those otherwise shrouded in darkness.

Monica Wilkie is a Policy Analyst at the Centre for Independent Studies

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