Who is holding the power in our society?

JOSH STOLTZFUS

Staff Writer

jlstoltzfus@goshen.edu

A myriad of people in our society hold elevated positions. They have influence. People often look up to them for guidance in where they stand on issues. But what do you do when one of these people that you respect immensely throws an ideal under the bus, something you may hold dearly?

Many faced this quandary on Nov. 1, when Lil Wayne, a prominent rapper in the hip-hop community, said that he “didn’t feel connected” to the Black Lives Matter movement.

“That just sounds weird,” the Louisiana rapper said during an interview on Nightline. “I don’t feel connected to a damn thing that ain’t got nothing to do with me.”

Wait. What?         

I was as surprised as everyone else when I read this. You don’t feel connected to the young black men getting shot? The ones listening to your music?

I’ve listened to a lot of Wayne, so it hurt when he said something like this. Then I took a step back. I asked myself, why do I care so much?

I’m never going to sit down and explain to Lil Wayne why Black Lives Matter. I know that I understand that Black Lives Matter, and a superstar rapper’s opinion won’t change that.

Wayne’s lived his life, and I’ve lived mine. I guess along the way, he came to a different conclusion than I have, and a lot of other people have, when it comes to police brutality.

My point here is that too often we let the opinions of those in elevated positions in our society influence our own beliefs. Sometimes we forget that they’re people just like us. We mistakenly assume that those celebrated by society come with beliefs and values worth celebrating.

Why can Kim Kardashian make millions for posting a selfie? Because for some reason, the masses care what she decides to promote.

Take a look at social media: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. Some of the wealthiest celebrities make their living by posting pictures of themselves on Instagram, promoting some brand. Kim made millions selling emojis styled after herself!

If you looked up the most-liked photo on Instagram right now, you’d find a picture of Selena Gomez, staring into your soul while sipping on a bottle of Coke. Six million people liked this picture.

I know that some of this branding and self-promotion is almost impossible to ignore today, unless you completely cut yourself off from the wide reach of the internet like a caveman. But why is this working?

I’m no exception. When I was in high school, I went through that teenage phase when I just wanted to rebel. Full of teenage angst. You know what I’m talking about. I listened to some edgy and racy music. I want to say it really captured what I felt as a teenager, foul-mouthed and apathetic, but I think I really just wanted to be like those artists.

I realized this as I got older. So, instead of listening to lyrics, I listened for meaning. In the end, these songs weren’t really telling me what to be, but rather to just be myself more than anything.

It’s also nigh impossible to talk about celebrity opinion without referencing the recent election season. It seemed like everyone had something to say about the candidates, the state of the U.S. or even about other people and their opinions.

Similar to this Lil Wayne situation, Azealia Banks had quite a bit to say about the election. Not that it’s a surprise that she was saying something outrageous again, but people were still taken aback when she announced her endorsement of the republican nominee Donald Trump early in the election season.

“I have no hope for America…I think Donald Trump is evil like America is evil and in order for America to keep up with itself it needs him…politicians are inherently evil, I trust the one who is most transparent,” she tweeted earlier in the year. She then flipped her decision, saying it was a “major mistake endorsing toupey-toupee.”

Then she flipped it again when Trump won the election, tweeting, “He is my f***ing hero right now. I am elated.”

Again, what?

You sound like Aaron Burr in the election of 1800. Do you actually have beliefs? Let me ask you this though. At this point, is Azalia Banks really known for her hip-hop discography, or for saying outrageous and controversial things? You can bet it’s working for her though, because any publicity is good publicity.

Is it important who people in elevated positions vote for? I saw one of those clickbait articles in the weeks leading up to Election Day saying something along the lines of “you’ll never guess who Taylor Swift is voting for – click here to find out.”

I don’t think it’s important, not at all. Because at the end of the day, she has one vote, just like you.

I don’t blame celebrities and other people in higher status from sharing their opinions or promoting themselves, but I do blame us for giving them so much power. There was a lot of backlash towards Lil Wayne, from fans and other rappers, which was expected. So much so that Wayne attempted to get the video removed.

But I don’t think he should have to. Like I said, he’s lived a different life than I have, than all of us. He’s just a man with an opinion.

Record
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