By Marco Valle
Many people believe that the amount of followers a celebrity has can impact the way society views them. With this in mind, people frequently question the motives, intentions and authenticity of celebrities when they take part in activism. There have been instances of social media activists getting criticized for only partaking in specific activist efforts for their reputation.
Many celebrities have solidified themselves as the leading faces of relevant social movements, and some have played vital roles in efforts combating issues around the world. Whether that be by aiding financially or physically, celebrities often take on involvement with humanitarian efforts and petitions. When celebrities are involved with a project, their popularity and outreach has often brought attention to the issue at hand. Many believe celebrities have the power to be the match that ignites change and expect them to live up to that standard.
Social media users often find it difficult to observe which celebrities are actual activists for a particular issue and those that are using the cause as a publicity stunt. Especially within younger generations, many who are fans of a certain celebrity want to know their true intentions when supporting an issue. Frequently, fans have expressed their disappointment towards their idols when instances of their ignorance and insensitivity arise in the media.
Artwork by Shadia Zayer
Many perceive celebrities' involvement in activism as a publicity stunt for more attention.
“Although younger celebrities or ‘influencers’ might not have become famous for a certain matter, it’s their responsibility to educate themselves with what’s happening in the world. Celebrity involvement would lead to an unknown issue being highlighted to the public which is always a positive,” senior Faiza Ahmed said.
While there is commonly a lot of dismay and attention drawn to the negative side, there are also cases of influencers and celebrities taking on a large supportive role in humanitarian efforts, benefiting others. This was seen recently when Starlink, a unit in Elon Musk's company, SpaceX helped distribute internet access in Ukraine by providing their own satellites at the beginning of the conflict. He made this decision after Ukraine's Vice Prime Minister, Mykhailo Fedorov, requested satellite service that was originally threatened by Russian cyberattacks. Many see him as a gracious hero that helped Ukraine in its time of need and hope that many other celebrities can follow in his footsteps.
"I think in certain cases celebrity activism can be very helpful and beneficial to the causes they're trying to support, but there's a very fine line between performative activism and genuine care for a cause," sophomore Nicole Donnelly said. "Especially with social media, it's really hard to tell because with things like the Ukrainian situation it kind of got blown up into a social media phenomenon with people just changing their profile picture and saying thats activism. I think what Elon Musk is doing is pretty beneficial and helpful because it's showing he's actually going to do something and he's being proactive in this situation."
Despite controversies surrounding the idea of celebrity activism, many celebrities continue to define themselves as activists and contribute thousands of dollars in aid funds for numerous causes. These influencers have demonstrated, encouraged and informed students to take initiative in these efforts.
This idea can be tied back to the activities currently going on at New Hyde Park Memorial High School and the students and staff involved in them.
For example, teachers in the social studies department can be seen wearing pins with the Ukrainian flag on it, in support of Ukraine. Key Club hosted their own fundraiser in support of Ukraine. They hosted a supply drive and donated countless proceeds to people in need.
“Students need to understand that change needs to start with them first before going to a more global scale, once you go from there, the world is yours to change,” NHP principal Dr. Faccio said.