For the last week or so, there’s been one story that has received far too much attention if you ask me. In the midst of the Democratic National Convention (and other vital social/political news) rapper Nicki Minaj‘s name appeared repeatedly in headlines in conservative, liberal, and mainstream outlets. The reason you ask? Nicki apparently said she was voting for Mitt Romney on a Lil’ Wayne mixtape. President Barack Obama was even forced to comment on the topic on a local Orlando radio station, and everyone seemed to be focusing on Nicki’s latest tweets and her real stand on the election. My thing is, when did we start caring what she or any other non-active celebrity has to say about politics? And if Nicki or someone else told us to vote for Romney, would we really be so quick to blindly do so?
Pretty much everyone enjoys music, and we all need entertainment every now and then to balance our lives. But when did we become so celebrity-whipped that all it takes is one “star” opening his or her mouth to possibly change course on our own future? Aren’t young people smart enough to do their own research?
I honestly don’t know the answer to that question.
But what I do know is that the amount of attention Nicki received for a simple line — in a verse, on a track, in a mixtape — was disturbing. What if Jay-Z or somebody else rhymed about the same thing? Would we really go for whatever he or any other celebrity said without knowing the facts?
Nicki now says she supports President Obama and that her lyrics were simply creative and sarcastic humor. But what if there’s some kid out there who didn’t pick up on the sarcasm? What if there’s someone who took those words as literal? There’s absolutely nothing she — or any other celebrity — can tell me that I would blindly follow. But in an entertainment-obsessed society like ours, I’m not so sure about everyone else.
While some of us are busy working to get folks appropriate IDs, registering them to vote, and fighting voter suppression tactics, someone who has no political influence whatsoever garners more attention than some of the DNC’s speakers.
That is a problem, because in all reality, there may very well be some who didn’t get Nicki’s humor and are going to vote for Romney without understanding what’s at stake.
The very policies that got us in to this economic mess are exactly what Romney/Ryan would put in to place: With Romney/Ryan looking to give tax breaks to the wealthy while eliminating tax cuts for the middle and working class, they would fail to assist the majority of Americans when they need it the most.
The truly tragic thing is, without even realizing that things like unemployment benefits, health care reform, Medicare, Medicaid, and other vital programs would be severely cut or eliminated under a Romney/Ryan administration, some may cast their vote because their favorite celebrity told them to do so.
It’s a damn shame.
Democracy and elections are about understanding the issues and participating in the process, but when we give so much weight to the opinions of those not engaged in politics on a local or national level, everyone must take a pause. If we would so easily gravitate toward a candidate without thinking, then we really must ask ourselves where we set the bar with entertainers.
Some of us get enraged when those without skills try to rap or sing. Well maybe we should be just as outraged when someone not organizing or rallying people to the polls tells us how we should vote.