On August 21, 2020 after a public fight with Alyssa Milano and Patricia Arquette around the hypocrisy of the Democratic Convention, Rose McGowan made one of the most savage tweets of the year. In the quote tweet to Patricia Arquette, she sums up the irony and running jokes that many average citizens make about Hollywood and that it’s virtue signaling programming. Part of this tweet said, “Go wear another black dress to an awards show, go make another vacuous speech into an echo chamber of fellow wealthy liberals in Hollywood.” Conservatives and principled liberals alike came together to give the tweet a whopping almost 30,000 likes. Hollywood’s smug condescension and shaming to the rest of the country when it comes to their political activism is something that has been under fire for the last few years. Award show ratings have plummeted as more and more political preaching have been done during acceptance speeches and red carpet interviews. The last thing most people want to see today is another political Oscar’s speech and activist themed night.
Despite popular belief among celebrities, it isn’t that Hollywood stars shouldn’t be able to share their political views as average voting citizens. It’s that they use their money and power to weaponize those political views as a way to shame those without their privileges into thinking the way they do. These celebrities will attack an entire political party’s worth of people forgetting the very anti-bullying, “of the people”, and compassionate viewpoints they preach on their metaphorical and quite literal platforms. When Madonna is standing on a literal platform during the Women’s March saying she has thought about blowing up the White House it shows that no matter how much love and civility she preaches are needed in politics, that she doesn’t genuinely believe it. That is the hypocrisy of Hollywood. Their activism is purely performative in the moment when they can most capitalize off it and pat themselves on the back for it. The moment things don’t go their way, they are off their curated Instagram’s, or they are faced with the fact that people in the country don’t agree with them, they leave those virtue signaling talks points behind to show their true colors.
Furthermore, often times their true colors are proven to be parallels to the very things they claim to hate. They say that the Republican Party has made the country a hateful place. Then, they promote and praise a known Anti-Semite to their millions of impressionable followers.
They tweet about how “backwards” parts of America are for loving their Second Amendment rights, while walking the red carpet with armed guards protecting them on either end of the carpet.
These celebrities will decry Trump as a bully for his tweets at fellow government officials. Then, they bully their conservative fans on stage or online for simply having a different political affiliation.
They don’t follow their own guidelines or virtues beyond the viral posts and award show speeches they take such pride in.
In comparison, there are celebrities that actually do go beyond the performative activism the rest of Hollywood is fond of. Ashton Kutcher has done amazing work to advocate on behalf of victims of sex-trafficking. When he steps off a red carpet, walks away from an interview, or closes his Instagram app he is still living out and working on those initiatives that he promotes. He has made speeches at countless events beyond Hollywood, testified before Congress, and co-founded an organization to build software to fight human trafficking. That is true activism. If only the rest of Hollywood could say the same about their own efforts. Where are the rest of their efforts, their millions of dollars being put back into the initiatives they support, their hours being spent less at the parties of the elite and instead spent on pushing to help the people they claim to care about?
What does a single pin on a thousand dollar suit or a black dress at a million dollar event do once the cameras are off when no other action is taken?
Will the lives of minority communities left without an easy way to protect themselves thanks to Democrat gun control policies be changed by a pin at the Oscars?
Will the women still being harmed in sex trafficking rings be saved by the black dress or ribbon worn on the red carpet?
While these small performative actions will leave celebrities being smug and returning home to their mansions reveling in how much good they did against the mean evil boogeymen they create out of conservatives, they actually do nothing to help the average American citizen facing real issues.
A celebrity may be able to get me to buy a t-shirt off their website or to stream a song from their latest album, but they will never be able to make me feel ashamed for my conservative policies and opinions. Their performative activism begins and ends on their stages, not on what I mark down at the polls. With women like Rose McGowan bringing attention to how their performative efforts should never and have never been able to do otherwise we can only hope that more people who follow these celebrities can also learn that lesson. We should all leave Hollywood’s performative activism to our TV’s. Remember that real power is held in each of our individuals hands to make the changes at the polls and in our own efforts.