When Stars Collide With Real Issues: Do You Care What Celebs Think About Politics?

Sometimes there are few things more tiresome than being lectured by a celebrity about the state of the world.

Most of us will have felt that buzz of irritation when we read or hear about a star who has gone on one trip with an NGO to the developing world and is now convinced they have a special insight into how to solve the world's problems. And while Bono's messiah complex has always annoyed me, ever since this multi-millionaire moved U2's business assets to avoid paying more tax I can't listen to him advocating international aid programmes without wanting to throw something.

Where the hell does he think money for international aid comes from, the end of a rainbow? It comes from taxes, Bono, so please don't lecture us about it unless you're willing to put your money where your mouth is. After all, it's not like you won't still be INCREDIBLY RICH when you've paid a few more thousands to the revenue office.

Bono and Barack (Getty Images) Bono and Barack (Getty Images)

Beyoncé is the latest star to turn to political activism. She's written an essay called 'Gender Equality Is A Myth' for an e-book of pieces by well known people including Hillary Clinton and Eva Longoria (and you may laugh at the idea of the Desperate Housewives star as a serious thinker, but she's clearly a very smart woman who made a pretty awesome speech about why rich people like her do not need tax breaks).

In her essay, Bey (or Yoncé as she calls herself in the third person on her latest album - I still haven't decided what I feel about this development) writes that


Women are more than 50 percent of the population and more than 50 percent of voters. We must demand that we all receive 100 percent of the opportunities.”

In general, I'm annoyed when pampered millionaires who have barely got their hands dirty start lecturing me on social issues - I'd rather listen to men and women who are helping to make the world better away from the spotlight in much less glamorous circumstance. And there are definitely celebs who manage to make a good cause all about them.

But I actually think it's really brilliant that someone of Beyoncé's huge stardom is actually writing seriously about gender issues. Whatever one might think of stars' celebrity activism, writing about gender inequality is, sadly, more controversial than writing about, say, the need for peace is Darfur or Syria – after all, few people in this part of the world will argue in favour of brutal civil conflict, but lots of people will argue about the need for feminism. So I think what Beyoncé is doing is important and powerful, especially as it follows hot on the heels of her sampling of Chimamanda Ngozie Adiche's fantastic speech on feminism on her latest album.

Chimamanda Ngozi Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche

And however enraging it is to hear Bono act like the saviour of the world, especially after it was reported that his charity gave a tiny proportion of their funds to actual causes, in general I suppose I'd prefer celebs to give a shit about the state of the world rather than be totally apolitical. At least they're trying to do something good, even if they do it in a cack-handed way, rather than just flying around the world in private jets.


And some of them genuinely do get stuck in - a friend of mine working in the Sudan a few years ago bumped into none other than George Clooney at a very unceleb bar - he was working over there without publicity, far from the cameras. I'm not pleased that he does ads for Nestle, who have been a force for bad in the developing world, but at least he uses the money they gave him to attempt to prevent human rights abuses. He's even been arrested for his protests.

So what do you think? Do you switch off as soon as a celeb starts spouting off about how to save the world, or do you believe that their hearts are in the right place? Has a celebrity ever actually informed you about an issue? Or do you think they should just stick to their day jobs?

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