Illustration by Fintan O’Sullivan
On Saturday April 25, a tweet by Kanye West caused backlash of seismic proportions. With no apparent motive, West tweeted “You don’t have to agree with trump but the mob can’t make me not love him.” He continued to say that President Trump was his brother.
At a time when politics are incredibly divisive, this tweet caused an onslaught of criticism and praise. President Trump responded, tweeting, “Thank you Kanye, very cool!” A man considered to be music royalty, adored by millions, just united himself with one of the most divisive leaders in recent history.
Throughout his career, West has been an icon in both fashion and music. However, celebrities also have a social responsibility because their platform allows them to influence millions of people. A large social responsibility such as this cannot be taken lightly. When celebrities have varying viewpoints, it is important they voice their opinion so that a “single story” does not emerge from Hollywood.
Following West’s tweet explosion, fellow artist and friend John Legend texted West and asked him to reconsider his public support of Trump due to his large following. Legend has a point: West’s public support of Trump doesn’t just affect him, but the entire nation. Unfortunately, his opinions and viewpoints regarding politics may be people’s only source of information. Chance the Rapper also tweeted his disagreement with Trump. What makes West a guru or an expert on politics? Just because West has a fan base and produces music and clothes, it does not deem him credible on immigration reform or fiscal policy. When West expresses his opinions and views on topics, he has no understanding, he provides millions of people with information that isn’t necessarily more credible than that of journalists or news anchors.
For many, Kanye’s statement must have been puzzling. Is politics enough to stop liking Kanye West? If I disagree with him politically, can I still be a fan of his music and his famous shoes? Either way, it brings up whether we can disagree with celebrity’s politics and still like their music.
Of course, Legend and West’s interactions have more impact on society than if this situation were occurring with a friend. If this happened with a friend or colleague of yours, one would hope that you would have the opportunity to open mindedly discuss the issue or topic, and not silence them.
The ostracization of people with different political views is a closed-minded way of living life and having discussions with people that have different views than you is beneficial. There is opportunity for new viewpoints and wisdom to be exchanged, and that should be kept in mind when disputing with friends, classmates, and colleagues.