Musicians have high platforms to exercise their influence, particularly if they are consistently relevant in the mainstream. A significant number of these musicians use their platforms to spread goodwill among their fans and followers. People will listen to what their favorite recording artists say because music is a way of life for everyone and the opinions of the people who create it are something to pay attention to for their fans.
However, some musicians can find themselves treading dangerous waters with the things they publicly say and do.
Because musicians and celebrities have such a vast influence, they can send people on the wrong track if they say something controversial or ill-advised.
A strong example of this is Kanye West.
Despite producing and releasing a plethora of critically acclaimed, highly influential and commercially successful albums over the 2000s and beyond, West has been scrutinized for his outspoken attitude and controversial statements in the media.
From claiming to be the “best new artist” at the 2004 American Music Awards after not winning the award, stating that George W. Bush did not care for African-Americans during A Concert For Hurricane Relief, to interrupting Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech at the 2009 Video Music Awards to state that Beyonce’s “All the Single Ladies” music video was one of the best of all time, West has stated opinions at public events like awards shows when they are not needed. While there is nothing wrong with the notion of expressing opinions, there are boundaries that some artists like West feel they need to cross, such as public events.
Another example of musicians taking their views too far is Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong telling a supporter of United States president Donald Trump to stop listening to his band’s music.
The reasoning for this was because the listener supports Trump. To tell someone that they cannot listen to your music simply because of differing political views is close-minded and unnecessarily intolerant. Armstrong and his bandmates have been vocal in their opposition to President Trump, as have many other musicians. However, they are incorporating their personal views into their decisions too deeply with this action.
Perhaps the most blatant example of a musician utilizing his or her personal views or actions to the extreme is Ted Nugent. This man has regularly poked his nose into American politics since his rise to fame. His stance is positioned on the far right of the political spectrum and he is a board member of the National Rifle Association. He has made many utterances that degrade the Democratic Party and the general left, and he has suggested that violence be used against gun control advocates, calling them “rabid coyotes.” In addition, he called former U.S. president Barack Obama a “Chicago communist-raised, communist-educated, communist-nurtured subhuman mongrel.” He is using his platform to push his political agenda, and that is simply taking it too far.
Famous musicians have the freedom to use their status to make themselves heard, but there could be unforeseen consequences for them when they abuse that power.