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From Kim Kardashian to Taylor Swift: does it make sense to boycott celebrities?

Blockout 2024 invites us to rethink our relationship with activism and showbiz

From Kim Kardashian to Taylor Swift: does it make sense to boycott celebrities? Blockout 2024 invites us to rethink our relationship with activism and showbiz

What happens to celebrities if their audience rejects them? Is there a possibility that the threat of audience loss might push them to take a stand on particularly weighty foreign policy issues? What does it mean for our relationship with fame and with the famous to realize that it's "us" who've "granted" them this fame and we can take it away whenever we want, like a strict mother? These are the questions we want to ask ourselves and you as we discuss the Blockout 2024, a grassroots boycott and protest movement that emerged following the Met Gala. Let's start from the beginning and try to clarify.

Blockout 2024: What's the Connection with the Met Gala?

The New York gala that serves as a fundraiser for the Metropolitan Museum was the last straw, the catalyst for impulses and frustrations that had been simmering on social media for some time, crystallizing into lists of which of the current celebrity figures had taken a stance on the Palestinian issue and which hadn't. While international stars paraded on the green carpet adorned with flowers, sand dresses, blocks of ice, and hourglasses, Israeli offensive bombed Rafah. The dissonance was palpable, strong, and inevitable, also due to the feeds and algorithms of social media platforms. Everywhere, from Twitter to TikTok to Instagram, content on the genocide alternated seamlessly with content on fashion, the theme of the year, brands, present and absent personalities, alone and together. It was dizzying.

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Part 2 of this Week's Block List of Celebrities for the Blockout 2024 - do it and do it UNPOLOGETICALLY.

original sound - Kim | Commentary & Content

What's Happening to the Stars: From Kim Kardashian to Taylor Swift

And hence the idea. What if—to demonstrate all our dissent and disgust towards these stars who, while people are being bombed, attend their elegant gala evening without even dreaming of expressing themselves about it—we collectively blocked them? Not just those who participated in the Met Gala, but also those we perceive as powerful enough to make a difference in public opinion. Thus was born the Blockout 2024 or Blockout Boycott, which consists precisely of this. To strip away the audience, attention, and reach from figures like Kim Kardashian, Tom Brady, Taylor Swift, Selena Gomez, and many others. Online, lists of people to block are popping up, as well as comments under photos of current favorites that more or less say: "Please say something, I don't want to block you." In short, the goal is to punish and blackmail them by depriving them of the only power we have over them: our attention.

Will Blocking Celebrities Work? Activism and Parasociality Today

Fundamentally, it's a form of blackmail. Does it work? Opinions are mixed. Even among supporters of the Palestinian cause, some believe that these acts (including lists) are useless and performative, and that other actions (such as promoting fundraisers and calling on local representatives to urge them to do something) are more meaningful. On the other hand, it's argued that this could work, and that it already is. It's too early to tell, and we're not sure if blackmail and threats are effective means to push someone to take a honest, sincere, and non-superficial stance or, in turn, a performative and empty one. If we widen the scope, though, the concept of activism comes into play, which in recent years has been redefined and rewritten by social media. The question remains the same: what is activism? Can social media activism be defined as such? Or do we need another word to distinguish it from other forms of it? Furthermore, what seems to be emerging here is a fundamental mechanism that reverses the relationship between us and famous people. A realization that could be useful to us beyond the boycott movement and that urges us to reject any parasociality and understand our power, its limits, and the functioning of the attention economy, which invites us to weigh what it truly means to support someone so distant from us. Are we ready to apply it in our lives?