Winter Storm Uri brought record-breaking freezing temperatures, unfortunate fatalities, rolling blackouts and water loss throughout various parts of the state. Texas’ humid and arid climate rarely encounters severe temperature drops, pairing this with Texas’ lack of preparation, residents were significantly affected. Many turned to social media to document their frustration through unsettling photos of their dark homes and neighborhoods, which invited media attention from news outlets and celebrities such as Matthew McConaughey, James Van Der Beek, Jenna Bush Hager and more.
People also began to highlight how silent certain officials were and Houston native Beyoncé became a trending topic on Twitter. Social media users quickly sunk their claws into the singer, questioning as to why she was not helping the very state she is from. One Twitter user assertively called out the R&B songstress, stating:
Similar tweets and posts began flooding the platform as more people jumped on the bandwagon. Meanwhile, Beyoncé was silently working behind the scenes to announce that her nonprofit foundation, BeyGOOD, would be partnering with Adidas to launch a winter storm relief fund.
Unfortunately, many celebrities such as Beyoncé are no stranger to public criticism during devastating times of need, even though it is not their responsibility to remedy the issue. This instant need for society to rely on celebrities is a problematic practice that creates a space for misinformation, distracts people from the cause at hand and absolves people of being held accountable to do their job.
Though it is satisfying when celebrities use their prominent influence to support social reforms and environmental crises, not all of the efforts are genuine. Some celebrities recognize that they do not have to be interested in supporting a cause to know that they can easily boost their relevancy by attaching themselves to an event. It is a classic case of slacktivism, which can enter dangerous territory if society pressures an inorganic influencer to be the spokesperson of social issues. This is not to say all celebrities are slacktivist because many popular personalities donate and assist behind closed doors.
For progress to be made, people must understand that the elected official’s sole purpose is to dedicate their time and effort into ensuring safety and protection in the community. The moment society begins to replace them with charitable celebrities they have established a harmful narrative that skills, qualification, and knowledge no longer matter.
As a society, we have to redefine how we go about effectively making a change in the world and it starts with accountability.