Believe it or not, more celebrities stupid things this week. Two of them, Liam Payne of One Direction and the latest Bachelor (whose name I have absolutely no desire to Google) made comments that were considered homophobic and were met with severe backlash.
To me, it’s incredibly unsettling that Liam Payne is a member of a boy band with a notoriously vicious following. Millions of impressionable and naive pre-teen girls accept anything One Direction says as the word of God and have a history of defending any and all actions of the group.
It’s great that these celebs continue to get called out on their shit, but simply condemning bigotry does little to nothing to solve the problems that created it. As I wrote before, pressuring an individual into accepting a group they are bigoted towards can grow further resentment. People do not change their mindsets unless they have a strong inner desire to do so. Oftentimes, pressure leads to contrived celebrity “apologies” (which are more often than not, are non-apologies that include a variation of the phrase “I didn’t mean to offend…”) that make the public feel a bit better about the situation and allow the figure to quietly continue wallowing in ignorance. This cycle repeats and everyone is shocked when another figure makes another comment a week later.
Whether you like it or not, much of society, especially teenagers, is influenced by celebrity culture. The equality movement cannot afford to be set back by a few tweets by a handful of ignorant public figures.
It’s time we stop our preoccupation with berating stubbornly ignorant celebrities into acceptance and focus on actively promoting messages of equality to our youth.
I honestly could not care less about the opinion of a boy band member.
However, I am very much concerned with the ideas going through the head of the ten-year-old One Direction fan who could one day be a teacher to my children.