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Hollywood and Music Stars Are Not Smarter Than You. Their Opinions Shouldn't Matter More Than Yours.

Karen is a freelance writer and artist, with a special interest in social issues and the political landscape

When did we start listening to famous or pretty people as though they are in on state secrets or get to sit in on important government meetings and so have an especially valued, informed opinion that should carry enormous weight? Celebrities involved in current events is nothing new of course. That’s how war bonds were sold throughout World War II. They are citizens who care and have a right to voice their opinion and be involved. It is also great publicity.

Caring sells.

Most mornings right out of bed I have a cup or two of black coffee followed by a brief time set aside for meditation, prayer or contemplation. Right after this I typically log on to my computer and check to see that the world is still spinning and WWIII didn’t break out while I slumbered. (I am an optimist, but I had to work at it.)

Nothing flattens my nice peaceful morning mood quite like seeing the comments of a Hollywood actor being given front page attention as though it is vital we take their words under careful consideration. It’s becoming clear that it is vital we don’t.

My news feed consists of widely diverse sources. I am committed to getting information from as many angles as I can knowing that I am being swayed and steered by every story I see and read. Many of the sources of current events and news are small publications and sites I subscribe to, and their views contradict one another mightily. I do this intentionally to ensure I am seeing from several perspectives to keep my mind open. Much of what we consider news is actually news commentary.

Each online news site or TV news network only reports what that particular news source decided is important to share with their audience that day. News commentary tells us what pundits, politicians, and a few select others think about those happenings. The line between News and News Commentary are purposely blurred to make it difficult for viewers, listeners, or readers to differentiate the two, and it’s become a dangerous problem unique to our age with the media banquet laid out before us every day. A lot of news and commentary about what is playing out on the world stage consists of tweets and reactions from musicians, actors, and other celebrities

We all want to believe we are strong minded and strong willed. We do not like to admit we are prone to manipulation. Yet each of us without exception have minds and thoughts that can be influenced by outside forces more than we care to admit, some easier than others. Our kids especially are beguiled by the rich and famous. “Influencers” are called that for an apt reason and influence goes far beyond purchasing and branding.

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We are not immune to these effects just because we are mature adults living in our grown-up world and going about our grown-up lives. Our minds are pliable and prone to subtle and not so subtle persuasion, too. Advertising works on us and advertising featuring our favorite stars works even better.

Mulling over taking a shiny new Lincoln for a test drive after seeing those great commercials starring Matthew McConaughey is one thing. Letting Matthew McConaughey into your mental inner circle of social and political influence is something else entirely. Yet this is happening with celebrities regularly. Opinions and yes, even votes, can be swayed by our favorite movie stars, singers, rappers, TV personalities and talk show hosts.

Winning a Grammy or an Emmy does not indicate someone who is wise or well informed. It only means they are an entertainer popular among their peers, which, outside of Hollywood and high school, is meaningless.

It is far, far more important we pay close attention to the viewpoints and words of our neighbors, friends, family, and other folks who have a stake in our community (and are somewhere in our income bracket) and ignore the opinions of this week's SNL guest host.

The media knows we are easily and heavily influenced by which entertainers support what political views and issues. They know we’ll click on the picture of someone we are a fan of because we are curious to find out how happy or appalled they are about a controversial issue or a vote on Capitol Hill. They use these tendencies of ours deliberately to improve ratings of course. Washington DC is well aware, too, and encourages this. None of the focusing on the words of the rich and famous is coincidental and we take all of this a bit too lightly.

Navigating our lives and all the important happenings around us can be challenging enough when many elected officials and representatives become pretenders at times, putting on shows for us on the world stage. Let’s stop allowing professional pretenders and media jugglers meddle with our minds or even affect the direction our country takes.

I’ve got my favorite actors and rock stars just like everyone else. And when I’m enjoying my morning coffee tomorrow and find out who won the Superbowl (I haven’t been able to stay up for the whole thing in years), I don’t at all mind reading about what they thought about the game or the half time show. I just don’t care anymore to hear their thoughts on just about anything else.

Stick to Show Biz, folks, and when I want to hear you talk, I’ll buy a ticket.

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