I’m befuddled by this bizarre, overblown outpouring of criticism over Cate Blanchett supporting the move for a carbon tax in Australia. She’s certainly not the first celebrity to endorse a product, person or cause. Look at Oprah Winfrey. Oprah endorsed the now Head Of State, Barack Obama, in the 2008 US presidency race – a move said to be worth over one million dollars in campaign publicity. Willie Nelson advocates for the legalisation of marijuana. Lady Gaga is an outspoken activist for the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” in the US military.
Celebrities are in a position where they can use their public profile to champion whatever it is they believe in (whether it’s Warnie spruiking Advanced Hair Studios, Daniel Radcliffe for the Liberal Democrats or Tom Cruise for Scientology). The agenda of choice for Cate Blanchett is climate change and she’s currently using her celebrity to bolster the Federal Government’s proposed carbon tax by appearing in the “Say Yes” campaign (below). However, National party leader Barnaby Joyce among other public figures has spoken out against Blanchett for her participation in the campaign with the ridiculous reasoning that she is too rich.
Senator Joyce said, “It’s very easy for people who have a good wage to suggest that we engage in a gesture which will have no effect, but the people who really pay the price are the ones who can’t afford the fundamentals of life right now.”
Likewise Terri Kelleher from The Australian Families Association said, “It’s nice to have a multi-millionaire who won’t be impacted by it telling you how great it is. It’s easy for her to advocate it – she’s one of the people who can afford to pay it. There are people who have no comfort zone and no room to move.”
These responses to the ad feel like textbook taxpayer fear mongering and one that seems to be working so far; the public dialogue has quickly gone off topic (i.e. how our country will handle climate change) and has instead morphed into a cautionary tale about the awful, frightening world of paying tax – a world that no one with large amounts of coin could understand. This super vague political niggle – accusing Blanchett (who participated in the commercial for free) of being too wealthy to have a say or a passion is ridiculous AND ridiculously off topic.
The actual content of the ad itself has been by and large ignored, taking a backseat to this overblown concentration of Blanchett’s credentials as a spokesperson. Surely as long as a person practices what she preaches she should be able to publicly back whatever cause they want – regardless of what side of the debate they are on. Leave “our” Cate alone and go back to the real issue.
Image by: Marty Melville via Getty