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Power in Performance: Why artists need to use their platforms wisely

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Music, movies and other forms of entertainment dominate our society’s interests. Celebrities typically produce various means for us to escape from reality, but imagine if they used their influence to promote worthwhile causes.

America has recently witnessed multiple examples of people in the spotlight using exposure to promote a cause close to their heart. Compelling examples include Beyoncé’s “Formation” video and performance commanding the nation’s attention to racial injustice, and Leonardo DiCaprio’s Oscars speech, which paused the showbiz realm to focus on the imminent threat of global warming.

All eyes were on Beyoncé this year after performing her freshly released single “Formation” at the Super Bowl halftime show. The iconic singer sent a bold message to the nation, described perfectly by Jenna Wortham in the New York Times: “’Formation’ isn’t just about police brutality—it’s about the entirety of the black experience in America in 2016, which includes standards of beauty, (dis)empowerment, culture and the shared parts of our history.”

Beyoncé’s message hits home with many Americans and simultaneously opened others’ eyes to injustices in contemporary America. Various other powerful presentations had equivalent effects in addressing important issues. Celebrities presenting such penetrating movements in the media act as frontrunners in social progression.

By using their wide exposure to promote important messages, celebrities can have an incredibly positive influence on their fans. The tactic inarguably increases awareness to hard but necessary issues which need addressing, such as racism, sexism, global warming and poverty. On top of spreading awareness, it creates recognizable leaders for people with less exposure to the issue.

Our society largely benefits from artists, including a worthwhile meaning instead of solely singing and talking about drugs, sex and money. Incorporating the promotion of good causes in performances is incredibly beneficial to the younger generations.

Artists utilizing this outlet positively have enormous potential to increase credibility to our generation. When celebrities that young people look up to use their platform to promote causes important to them, they are portrayed as educated and good-intentioned idols. The display of capacity for profound thought may lead members of older generations to have a greater respect of millennial beliefs and opinions, whether they agree or not.

It could be argued that a celebrity can use their platform to promote an unethical movement, such as a resurgance of the Klan or further hindrance to people in need. While this is an understandable and very real concern, most beliefs that directly inconvenience groups are not tolerated in our society. Therefore, groups holding these beliefs are typically hesitant to publicly promote their viewpoint and would not be a threat.

This is not to criticize performers who do not endorse movements. Nothing says artists need to be involved with the public on a philosophical level. Nonetheless, it is important for people to be challenged, and celebrities have the perfect opportunity to bring up complex matters in an enjoyable way.

Young people need to be enlightened and get involved in issues leaders are trying so hard to change. Being exposed to such matters by an admired celebrity is an effective way to influence passion, and celebrities should take advantage.