Actors might wear ceasefire pins, but they aren’t your heroes

Yiyi Ding | Mercury Staff

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Despite modern Hollywood films often featuring provocative political messaging, especially at the 2024 Oscar Awards, major Hollywood actors fail to speak on political issues explicitly and don’t deserve to be credited for social progress. When looking for an actual cultural hero, look among yourselves, especially fellow students, as they call for political action more effectively despite facing more risks.  

Political commentary took center stage at the Oscars this year, with special attention being paid to the humanitarian crisis in Palestine. Dozens of actors and actresses at the ceremony wore red pins associating them with ‘Artists for Ceasefire,’ a collection of creatives advocating for a ceasefire in Gaza; however, they did not elaborate on the pins in later interviews. Jonathan Glazer, director of “The Zone of Interest,” went on to call his film a cautionary tale in his speech, talking about the effects of dehumanization on Palestinian civilians. These sentiments touched on the fact that something devastating is happening to Palestinians, but lacked the depth that one would expect, especially given the fact that we can watch in real time what is happening in Gaza via social media.  

While these pins and Glazer’s speech are a great way to educate people on the crisis in Gaza, pushback against Hollywood is far too tame compared to the sentiments and actions of the public. According to a poll conducted by Data for Progress, around 67% of American voters support a permanent ceasefire in Gaza. Voters who participated in the poll also called for conditioned aid for Israel and a two-state solution. Most Americans want peace in Palestine, and yet Hollywood, as the most visible representation of American culture on a global scale, can only speak about a ceasefire in Gaza through niche and ignorable methods. Jonathan Glazer’s speech, which only points out the effect of dehumanization on victims of humanitarian crises, received such severe backlash that other creatives signed an open letter denouncing it.  

The answer lies in the fact that these celebrities’ activism is perfunctory. The pin is an underhanded way to show support for a ceasefire, and at the end of the day, it is just a pin. These celebrities certainly don’t go on to meaningfully advocate against military action in Gaza using their large social media platforms or by physically protesting. While Best Supporting Actor Oscar nominee Mark Ruffalo gets to revel in the image of being a good person by responding positively to the protests outside of the Oscars, the true activists never got to step foot on the red carpet because they were instead outside picketing. 

While you can argue that celebrities have the platform to bring about widespread social change through their advocacy, true and significant cultural change comes in numbers. When we look back on the changes made to governmental attitudes toward issues such as racism, we don’t often think of Marilyn Monroe’s advocacy for civil rights. We think of the Alabama bus boycott and the Freedom Riders, of the masses of protestors that paved the way for change. And as for those who lead these movements, they seldom are celebrities and instead are ordinary people who want to do the right thing.  

Ultimately, a celebrity’s outcry isn’t inspirational because, as powerful and wealthy people, it’s hard for backlash to touch them in any meaningful way. And despite the average American having far more to lose, many everyday people are still brave enough to explicitly call for a ceasefire. For example, UTD’s own Students for Justice in Palestine has pushed for student government to pass a resolution calling for a permanent ceasefire and has run ongoing fundraisers to bring humanitarian aid to Gaza.  

Most aspects of a celebrity’s life are already in the public domain and thus, they have staff on retainer for defending their image: PR teams. The average citizen does not have access to these resources, and is much more vulnerable to social backlash for supporting controversial political stances.  

If you care about what’s happening in Gaza, don’t just put a political post on your Instagram story. Don’t just put a Palestine pin on your backpack. Skip the performative activism: do some impactful work with a group like SJP, join protests and donate to the victims of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. 


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  • The opinion piece here ignores two important items that must be included in any analysis of the Oscars this year.

    First, whatever the intent of Artists for Ceasefire, the vast majority of Jews saw the bloody hand design as a reminder of Muslims expelling and slaughtering us or our ancestors in the Farhud and the Second Intifada. To us, these designs are promises of future violence.

    Second, regarding the outrage against Glazer, it was Jewish outrage against one of our own. He used the Oscar platform to engage in textbook Holocaust reversal, which is antisemitism according to the IHRA definition.

    The pins and speech may be irrelevant to others. They are anything but irrelevant to the 92% of American Jews who are Zionists. Excluding these facts does serious damage to your analysis and adds insult to injury that Jews have already suffered at Muslim hands since the seventh century.

    Am Israel Chai!

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