Political comments require information


The U.S. health care system is evil — or so teen pop sensation Justin Bieber would have you believe, according to a recent interview with Rolling Stone. On a semi-related note, Gov. Chris Christie has made it known that he — unlike a large portion of University students — is not a big fan of MTV's "Jersey Shore." In fact, Christie plans on telling his "good friend" New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to "take [the cast] back" to New York because New Jersey does not care for them. How are these not-quite-news items related? It's simple — on one hand, we have a pop culture figure making claims about politics, and on the other, a political figure making claims about pop culture. But the big difference is that Christie is qualified to make his claims publicly. Bieber is not.

This is a time in which pop culture and the government have been coming closer together. In fact, they have merged to the extent that people perceive of President Barack Obama as a sort of celebrity president. Is this conflation a good thing? In some ways, it is absolutely harmless. For example, it is kind of fun to find out what songs elected officials have on their iPods. At the same time, people have to remember the crucial difference between pop culture and politics. Namely, that pop culture is a matter of taste, while politics are a far more complicated beast.

As a human being, Christie is automatically a member of mass culture. As such, he has every right to espouse his opinions on something like "Jersey Shore" in a public forum. Everyone has that right — pop culture is something everyone is a part of. It informs our everyday lives, no matter how much we try to remove ourselves from it. One need not be an expert on something like trashy reality television to express their feelings about it.

But not every human being is a political expert — especially when it comes to something as complex as health care. Of course, Bieber is entitled to his opinion — everyone is allowed to have an opinion on pretty much everything. But when media outlets like Rolling Stone and The Huffington Post print someone like Bieber's comments on health care, all they are doing is wasting space. Bieber's opinions on health care do not constitute news. Does anyone really care what a 16-year-old pop singer thinks about American health care? If they do, they shouldn't. If Bieber wants to express his opinions on health care — something he is not intimately acquainted with — let him do it. Just don't waste time and paper letting the world know what he said.

In short, it comes down to this: When politicians talk pop culture, it humanizes them, and citizens like to feel closer to their elected officials. When pop culture icons talk politics, it makes them sound simple. Of course, this is a sweeping generalization, but it certainly applies in the case of Justin Bieber.


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