Celebrities Must Use Their Platforms

Shraddha Jajal, Contributing Writer

On Jan. 20, women all across the country came out on the one-year anniversary of President Donald Trump’s inauguration and the newly annual Women’s March, which occured in many cities across the country. Many of the Women’s Marches around the country had a stage, which attendees crowded around to hear speakers — many of whom were celebrities — share their sentiments from the past year. Scarlett Johansson spoke out against the bias and the injustice that has been haunting women for generations on stage in front of the 500,000 attendees gathered in downtown Los Angeles. Her statement, “I want my pin back, by the way,” was not only a reclamation of power but an assertion that women should always have the courage to speak out against anyone who violates — or tries to violate — their rights. Supporters of women’s rights should be vehement in their actions, not passive participants who claim to stand with a movement for popularity points.

Johansson’s words were directed at former NYU professor James Franco, a man who just won a Golden Globe for his role in “The Disaster Artist” while wearing a ‘Time’s Up’ pin and, more importantly, a man who has been accused of sexual misconduct by multiple women. Former students of Franco from Studio 4, Franco’s acting and film school in New York City, have come out to describe the uncomfortable sexual environment Franco had been creating, including showing visible anger when women refused to take off their shirts. This is why Johansson made a point to call Franco out, who is a self-proclaimed avid supporter of the #MeToo movement. A man who publicly supports women’s rights movements but privately strips them of their honor and respect is a hypocrite. This does not just apply to a popular actor; this is applicable to every man who commits such an immoral crime.

Being a college student, it is unbelievable how many times I have heard stories of abuse, and it is so hard for me to fathom how many people seem to dismiss these types of incidents. NYU has policies that protect against sexual misconduct, but Franco, the accused, was a teacher at this very university. This shows that sexual predators can slip through the cracks, and their abuse can go unnoticed. Other actresses, such as Natalie Portman and Olivia Munn, also attended the march and verbalized their support for women’s rights at the Los Angeles Women’s March, but Johansson’s words sounded much louder than the comparable speeches. She used her speech and platform to speak out against these injustices involving Franco, which seem minute in comparison to the Harvey Weinstein accusations. However, abuse is abuse. Making anyone, whether it’s a man or a woman, uncomfortable or placing them in an unconsenting sexual situation is wrong in every way.

Scarlett Johansson is one woman, but there are thousands out there who do not have a platform or are too afraid to speak out against their coworkers or peers in fear of retribution or judgment. Actors and celebrities are in a unique position where they can use their influence to make a difference. We can only hope that they use this influence to make a positive change in the world instead of superficially supporting movements such as #MeToo.


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Email Shraddha Jajal at [email protected]