Matthew Liu, Opinion Managing Editor

Celebrities and politics are arguably among the most followed people and topics in American society. While often controversial when the two mix, celebrities’ opinions on politics should be taken seriously because the majority of them put their powerful influence to good use.

Hollywood actor and humanitarian George Clooney is a perfect example of what can happen when a celebrity puts their political speaking power to good use. In 2008, Clooney and his “Ocean’s Eleven” co-stars founded Not On Our Watch, an international humanitarian aid organization dedicated to “putting an end to mass atrocities around the world” by focusing global attention and resources toward helping victims of those atrocities. The organization recently gained fame with their efforts to halt the destructive genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan. Through Clooney and the organization’s efforts, millions of dollars worth of humanitarian aid have been delivered to those affected by the genocide and public awareness about the crisis in Sudan has increased greatly.

Microsoft founder Bill Gates and wife Melinda are another example of how celebrities can use their political influence in a positive way. Launched in 2000, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is the largest private foundation in the United States, according to the National Center for Charitable Statistics. The Gates Foundation aims to address humanitarian issues such as ending poverty and providing healthcare in areas where it is needed most. In 2015 alone, the Gates Foundation poured $5.1 billion into charitable causes that included infectious disease control, reproductive healthcare and agricultural research.

Despite the tremendous work that is being done by celebrities such as Clooney and the Gates family, the general public still leans towards the opinion that celebrities should not bring their opinions to politics. This is supported by a 2013 study by Harris Interactive, which found that 55 percent of the general public believed that celebrities have a negative impact on the issue that they promote. This, however, is likely the result of the large media focus on big-name celebrities like Kanye West and Roseanne Barr who have promoted a negative view of what celebrities do when they share their opinions on politics.

Celebrities like West and Barr sometimes cause more harm than good, but that should not distract from the many celebrities like Clooney and Gates who put their powerful political platform to good use by improving lives around the world. A handful of controversial tweets should not outweigh the billions of dollars that others pour into noble causes.  

There is a lot to be said about certain celebrities who dominate the headlines with their outrageous and harmful words and actions; it is imperative that Americans block out that noise and pay attention to the good work being done by celebrities who care more about others than themselves.