Letter to the editorMarch 7, 2003
Hans Christianson's column on celebrities and their use of status to promote the war completely misses the issue of celebrity status. Ultimately, he takes issue not with the fact that they are celebrity, but that he disagrees with their message they are conveying. I doubt that Christianson would have any problem with Martin Sheen lending his star power to famine relief or saving children or preventing teen suicide. But war, for some reason, is off-limits.
Celebrities are creatures of our own making. We made them icons; we worshiped them as they created their art. And now, when they disagree with the opinions of the ones who made them what they are, we say they are abusing their position. Do we honestly think they are doing this for their careers, that opinions such as opposing the military are going to somehow lift them to stardom once the war is over? Look at other celebrities who have taken unpopular stands and tell me that their careers somehow benefited from them speaking their minds.
The issue here is not whether celebrities can speak their minds. As American citizens, they are guaranteed that right. But because of our fascination with trivial, meaningless culture, they have a larger voice than most. Therefore, don't argue with Sheen's speaking his mind -- he has every right to do so. Don't claim that he is abusing his position -- we put him there. If you disagree with Sheen, do it on the grounds that you don't like his politics, not on the basis that he doesn't have equal right to speak his mind.
As one opposed to this impending war, I think it is the best thing that can be done for a celebrity to use his or her position to continue this conversation -- a conversation that our president seems to be wanting to bring to a violent end.
Truett Seminary '03