For as long as I can remember, celebrities have generally stuck to focusing on their own career. Singers sang, actors acted and there was rarely a clash between any two professions. Yes, famous personalities would advocate for charities or sponsor brands, as they still do, but they would seldom comment on a company’s way of functioning. It was often left to interest groups, activists or the government to handle unwarranted behavior from big name companies. However, times have changed, and celebrities are now often seen commenting on wrongful and immoral activities through their social media.
Recently, Harry Styles brought some negative publicity to SeaWorld by asking his fans during a concert to ditch the marine park if they loved dolphins. Maisie Williams, an actress known for her role as Arya Stark on Game of Thrones, caught Styles’ message on tape and then shared the clip on her Instagram. It took no time for the video to circulate the Internet, considering both Williams’s and Styles’s immense fan bases.
This is certainly not the first time that SeaWorld’s ill treatment of its marine life has been commented on. Back in 2013, the critically acclaimed documentary “Blackfish” showcased by CNN was a blow to SeaWorld’s goodwill and image in society. However, while the documentary brought up just about 300,000 online mentions, Credit Suisse analyst Joel Simkins told the New York Post, Harry Styles’ message increased talk of SeaWorld on the Internet by over 400 percent. People were clearly more affected by his ten-second statement than by the 90-minute documentary detailing SeaWorld’s violation of animal rights.
This incident is a throwback to Taylor Swift’s “love letter” to Apple earlier this year. Her open letter led to Apple deciding to pay artists royalties for the free three-month trial period of Apple Music. Although this elicited some negative responses from people who seemed to be wondering why a big star such as Swift even needed the money, such episodes demonstrate the immense power that celebrities have to make a difference. While it takes pressure groups and activists a great deal of rigorous work and effort to inform society of wrongdoings, it took Swift and Styles barely any time to completely change their followers’ viewpoints. These days, even a one-man army can pose a threat to a company’s image worldwide.
It’s refreshing to see a celebrity use their popularity to benefit others rather than have tunnel vision. It is surprising that a 10-second speech is more influential than an entire documentary, but I would assume that even the makers of Blackfish would be pleased to see that people are raising their voices against SeaWorld’s ill treatment of its animals. Be it two lines shouted senselessly during a concert or a 500-word letter, celebrities are certainly proving to be more effective and persuasive than pressure groups.