Star Power

SOPHIA VAHDATI thinks that celebrities should stay away from ‘great responsibility’.

Cambridge Union Society celebrities Drugs Rupert Everett Sophia Vahdati The Daily Mail The Union war on drugs

Last week at The Union saw the glamorous film star Rupert Everett taking the opportunity to show us his own self-importance and just exactly how controversial he can be.

Whilst the interview was thoroughly entertaining and raised some interesting issues, it was clear that Mr Everett is after all, first and foremost, an entertainer. There’s nothing wrong with this. It’s been a long time since entertainment and theatre were scandalous professions . But it seems that these days many ‘entertainers’ think that with great fame comes great responsibility…

“A community of musicians and actors who have the dead eyes of sharks” was how Mr E referred to the fact that today’s big stars don’t air their real opinions due to the corporate interests of their sponsor’s shareholders. Nevertheless, could this be a good thing? It goes without saying that celebrities who raise awareness of global issues can be hugely beneficial to society… But how about those who cause more harm than good to the causes they ‘champion’? How about those who eclipse the substance and reason behind controversial subjects with their super-sized egos and narcissistic statements?

Everett made several off-hand references to drugs throughout the evening, and when directly asked about this his meandering response did almost as much harm for the call for legalisation and sensible drug policy as bogus horror stories found in the Daily Mail!

He dwelled on the evils of drugs and how they destroy lives, he directly apologised to any mothers who have lost daughters due to ecstasy overdoses and then followed this by stating that “the fact that they’re illegal is crazy”.

Despite fully agreeing with his opinion on the current drugs legislation, “the damage that is done by the war on drugs way outnumbers the damage [of the drugs themselves]”, I cannot take him seriously. His response was littered with awful jokes: “I used to take drugs in the 80’s now I take them in any temperature”, and blasé claims “it could get us out of the recession”. This is a serious issue; let us deal with it seriously.

Mr Everett, you are greatly admired, and it’s true that the ‘war on drugs’ is as much of a failure as the other America-fuelled conflicts that the world has seen over the past decades. We found no weapons of mass destruction, peace has not been established in Afghanistan and the illegal drugs industry continues to thrive in spite of reactionary laws and hard-line policies. We do need to take a turn for pragmatism.

In order to do this, we need the people in the public eye to be well-informed, to analyse possible solutions and changes in an objective way, without worrying if the camera is focused in on their good side or not. Let’s hope that celebrities can stay out of this debate (for goodness sake Pete Doherty, stay far, far away) because being good looking and/or a talented performer should not mean that your opinion is more worthy than everybody else’s, and it sure as hell doesn’t mean that you know what you’re talking about.