Should Anyone Take Celebrity Activists Seriously?

Background: Despite having no obvious claim to special wisdom, movie stars, TV personalities, and luminaries from famous families have all lent their reputations and star power to campaigns from radical activist groups. But that doesn’t make them experts.

  • Vegetarian Paul McCartney persistently calls for others to adopt “Meatless Mondays” as a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has claimed that U.S. hog farmers are “a bigger threat” to America “than Osama Bin Laden.”
  • A number of Hollywood celebrities, such as Pamela Anderson, take part in animal rights campaigns sponsored by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).
  • Jeremy Piven has repeatedly asserted that he suffered “mercury poisoning” from eating too much sushi.

Why shouldn’t I believe these celebrities? A closer look reveals that some stars don’t even know what the groups they endorse stand for. Others are just hypocrites.

  • Australian model Sarah Jane, featured by the vegetarian activist group PETA in an anti-KFC campaign, admitted on her website that she enjoys eating lamb kidney, raw meat, and haggis.
  • PETA supporter and pop singer Pink apparently doesn’t see the contradiction in her statement: “I have very conflicted views on everything. I’m a proud member of PETA and I got leather boots on my feet, you know what I’m saying?”
  • Pamela Anderson, arguably the most public PETA supporter and anti-fur activist, bounced from scene to scene in the movie “Barbed Wire” in a head-to-toe leather jumpsuit.
  • Upon receiving an award at the Animal Rights 2003 National Conference, TV host Bill Maher stated: “If ten people in America died of mad cow disease, in the long run it would save probably millions of lives. Because people would stop eating meat. That’s not a catty thing to say, to say — in the long run this is what I hope.”
  • Many stars appear in public with PETA one day and sport an AIDS ribbon the next–conveniently forgetting the group’s opposition to research using animals “even if it resulted in a cure for AIDS.” PETA has even encouraged Americans to boycott medical charities like the Pediatric AIDS Foundation.

The bottom line: Celebrities should stick to what they’re good at—performing—instead of embracing radical campaigns just to keep their names in the news.