Jennifer Aniston over the last few months has used her Instagram account on several occasions to support social causes, like advocating for Black Lives Matter, and public service announcements, like wearing a mask. She’s also left no doubt about where she stands on the current administration in the United States and her most recent IG post is about voting, who she voted for, and why.
Jennifer is specific with so many issues here: racism, reproductive rights, LGBTQ+ rights, the environment, the pandemic, and democracy in general. And while this is not a surprise as there was never a doubt that Jennifer would vote Democrat, you also have to remember who she appeals to: the MiniVan Majority, and a big part of the MvM, well, they’re in her comments.
I generally try to avoid the f-cksh-t in a celebrity’s comments but I was curious to see what kind of reaction she would get to this post since she actually didn’t disable them. Underneath all her other celebrity supporters you’ll see that the Karens eventually show up. Some of them are kind, because they do really love Jen so much, and it’s “OK, agree to disagree, still a fan”. And then there are the usual “celebrities should just shut up!” commentors, like celebrities can’t also be citizens. But there’s also a not insignificant amount of “I’m so disappointed in you, you should educate yourself” conspiracy theorists. Fights break out under several comments, as expected. So, you know, it’s a mess. I don’t know why I bothered.
But it does remind me of what many BIPOC celebrities, including Amanda Seales, have been saying to their famous white counterparts about turning on the comments. Amanda, back in May, posted a video that was directed at Justin Timberlake who had posted in support of Black Lives Matter but who turned off the comments. “It’s time for y’all to see who’s been following you”, she said. Opponents of her message argue that the comments can be so toxic, it’s damaging for our mental health and we shouldn’t force someone to have to be exposed to this kind of trauma. I don’t disagree with this. It doesn’t mean we can’t talk about her argument though – which is that when a white celebrity posts a pro-BLM message but avoids the comments, they don’t have to confront the reality of who some of their followers are and what they believe. They don’t have to check their ratio. And by not engaging with that ratio, they aren’t getting a true appreciation of the harassment and hate that Black celebrities have to face on a minute-by-minute basis.
Again, to be clear, I’m not saying that I agree with her that this is the answer. All I’m saying is that it’s worth further exploring her point about “seeing who’s been following you” and the difference in social media experiences between white celebrities and BIPOC celebrities – basically the same as it is in life.