Politicians, economists and business figures have all voiced their opinions on the European Union debate; last week it was the turn of celebrities. But should we care what they think?
The Bank of England, the IMF, and the President of the United States of America were clearly not enough for the “Remain” camp. Last week they felt it necessary to draft in the support of almost 300 A-List celebrities backing Britain’s continued membership of the European Union. In a stunt coordinated by Britain Stronger In Europe, the open letter, signed by celebrities ranging from Benedict Cumberbatch to Vivienne Westwood, claimed that Brexit would hamper the creative industry in Britain.
The letter asserts that Britain “is more imaginative and more creative” in the EU, and that “our global creative success would be hampered by walking away.” Quite how being members of a political union makes a nation more imaginative I don’t know. Perhaps they could explain in a follow up letter. It also claims that EU funding is “vital” in sustaining the creative industry in Britain. This is insincere on two fronts. Firstly, there is no such thing as “EU money” – it is the money of British taxpayers pooled together with that of other member states. And as net contributors to the EU, were we to leave, we would in fact have more money available to spend on such creative projects. Secondly, the letter also ignores the fact that the most flourishing creative industry in the world belongs to America, a nation over 3,000 miles adrift of the European continent. Hollywood seems to cope just fine without money from Brussels, and is rather ironically where many of the signatories of the letter choose to spend the majority of their time.
This is merely a deliberate attempt to conflate the European Union – an anaemic, bureaucratic organisation – with the vibrant and exciting cultures of the European continent. If we were to leave, actors would continue to act, painters would continue to paint, and Britain would continue to be a cultural beacon of light in the world, just as we were for centuries before the European Union came into existence.
The signatories of the letter in question can understandably only see the benefits of our membership. They are, after all, completely disconnected from the many ways in which our membership hurts those at the bottom end of society. Benedict Cumberbatch never has to wait weeks on end for a doctor’s appointment. Jude Law’s children are never going to be denied a place at their first choice school. Perhaps if migrants were taking the jobs and undercutting the wages of actors and artists as opposed to builders and plumbers their letter would have taken on a different tone.
Celebrity interventions on political issues are almost invariably drowned in hypocrisy, and often border on the absurd. Be it Jennifer Lawrence complaining of gender inequality in Hollywood whilst earning $52 million in a single year, Leonardo DiCaprio bemoaning climate change whilst larking around the world on his private jet, or most recently George Clooney lecturing Europe about being more welcoming towards refugees whilst his numerous mansions sit empty and refugee-less.
But in a society which deifies those who achieve a modicum of success in a particular field, such interventions are going to continue to occur. Until we remove the pedestal from under such people, we will repeatedly be subjected to self-righteous lectures from virtue signalling celebrities.
So whilst just like the rest of us, celebrities are entitled to their opinion on the EU, we the general public should not let this influence our decision on 23 June. A-List actors and artists are obviously going to support an organisation that provides them with such lucrative personal benefits, and of which they are immune to its detriments.
Just because the status quo benefits them, doesn’t mean it benefits you and I. So base your decision next month on the facts, not on the opinions of a few privileged, leftist celebrities.