6 Celebrities Who Should Really STFU About Their Vile Activism
Superstar anti-vaxxers have been taking a well-deserved bashing in the media for abusing a platform that has nothing to do with scientific credentials to dole out dangerous advice on children’s health. Jim Carrey was lambasted recently for a string of deranged tweets criticizing vaccines, calling California’s governor a “corporate fascist” for daring to protect public health by making MMR inoculations a requirement to enter public schools. (Savvy observers suspect his medieval views were likely solidified during his years-long relationship with Jenny McCarthy, the anti-vax movement’s flagship recruit.) Alicia Silverstone, Jenna Elfman, Selma Blair and Charlie Sheen are also all reportedly against peer-reviewed medical science when it comes to their own dumb kids.
While vaccine denial may be the most reviled Hollywood cause du jour, it’s worth remembering the rich tapestry of horrible celebrity activism these well-coiffed saboteurs of herd immunity spring from. If you’re lucky enough to accrue fame and fortune, there are plenty of ways to use it for evil. Here are some of the worst celebrity activists out there, peddling regressive ideas.
1. Kirk Cameron
The former child star of “Growing Pains” famously found God toward the end of the show’s run. Unfortunately, the god he found was the biggest dick imaginable, and Cameron has been one of the most outspoken zealots on the evangelical scene ever since. For years, he has condemned same-sex marriage to any interviewer willing to talk to him. Cameron has also produced a handful of batshit movies so overbearingly Christian that Ma and Pop Duggar actually allow their 19 pop culturally sheltered victims to watch them. His movies also have increasingly political undertones. In 2012, Monumental addressed Cameron’s fury over Christianity being erased from American history, a phenomenon that has not actually taken place. In 2014, Cameron made Saving Christmas, a dispatch from the front lines of the brutal war on Christmas, complete with a desperate call for MORE JESUS, PLEASE! “Do you ever feel like Christmas has been hijacked?” Cameron’s voiceover asks in the trailer. “By all the commercialism, and those who want to replace ‘Merry Christmas’ with ‘Happy Holidays,’ or ‘Seasons Greetings,’ whatever that means?!” Yes, Kirk, very confusing indeed.
2. Pamela Anderson
While Anderson’s commitment to animal rights is laudable, it’s tough to come up with an organization less likable than PETA — and Anderson is its most strident and recognizable supporter. PETA’s tactics bait controversy by design, but its willingness to insult practically anyone to make its points is indefensible. PETA has mocked fat people to encourage vegetarianism, pumped out misogynist photo spreads and compared humanity's cruel treatment of animals to the Holocaust. Anderson has been at the center of several of these campaigns, including one photo of her posing as a slab of meat with labeled body parts. Anderson also appeared as a spokesperson at a PETA press conference in April, praising notorious anti-immigration sheriff Joe Arpaio for removing meat from Arizona inmates’ meals to cut costs. It’s great that Anderson is so passionate about ending animal abuse, but it would be nice if she gave a hoot about cruelty to prisoners, too.
3. Patricia Heaton
The matriarch of “The Middle” and “Everybody Loves Raymond” has a bone to pick with bodily autonomy. She is the honorary chairperson of the anti-choice group Feminists for Life, a group which actively infantilizes women’s choices as invalid. “Indeed the tragedy of abortion haunts women from all walks of life…abortion is a huge disservice to women,” the actress once said. While Feminists for Life at least pretends to have feminist principles, Heaton does not. In 2012, she piggybacked on Rush Limbaugh by slamming Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke by tweeting “Hey G-Town Gal! If your parents have to pay for your birth control, maybe they should get a say in who u sleep with! Instant birth control!” Then there was the time she accused Michael J. Fox of faking Parkinson’s just to have his way with some sweet, sweet stem cells. No wonder Ray was always groaning.
4. Bristol Palin
After Bristol Palin became a teen mom upon delivering her first kid in 2009, she publicly vowed to get back on Jesus’ good side by abstaining from sex until marriage. Then she signed on as a paid abstinence spokeswoman for the Candie’s Foundation, banking over $260,000 in one year for pushing a condescending ideology she of all people knows is unrealistic. (Even worse, Candie’s allocated a mere $35,000 to actual teen health over the same period.) Besides Palin’s hypocrisy, the foundation's explicitly anti-teen pregnancy stance is dehumanizing; just ask any of the advocates of the “No Teen Shame” movement, which calls for reducing stigma and vitriol toward teenage parents. The fact that we’re still debating whether or not to order consenting adults how to use their bodies is bananas, but telling young parents they’re to blame for poverty is worse. Palin’s just announced pregnancy was widely lambasted for being yet another example of conservative hypocrisy, and should certainly be a wakeup call that political “activism” surrounding abstinence is sorely misplaced.
5. Gwyneth Paltrow
There is no shortage of snarky ink spilled about Gwyneth Paltrow, the Oscar-winning queen of forgetting her own privilege. Her sanctimonious personal brand hinges on “natural living,” which includes $550 artisanal backgammon sets, steaming your vagina and talking about how much harder it is for her to mother than it is for middle-class working women. But the jewel in her missing-the-point crown has got to be last year’s experiment living on food stamps, which Beth Markley rightly called a “prime example of poverty tourism.” While a few writers defended Paltrow’s attempt to spotlight the hardship of feeding families while living in poverty, most were critical of Paltrow’s “experiment,” which most SNAP recipients don’t get to try on for size to make a lifestyle point. Paltrow’s $29 worth of groceries included leafy greens, beans and eggs, which some bloggers claimed amounted to less than 1000 calories a day, too little for an average adult. But the big problem with Paltrow’s misfire was that it rebranded an arduous lifestyle restriction faced by millions of poor people into an opportunity to prove her own creative prowess in the kitchen. If she’d just focus on movies, maybe she’d finally make something as good as The Royal Tenenbaums again.
6. Tom Cruise
It feels so obvious to include Tom Cruise on a list like this that it barely feels fair. But the polarizing star has ensured his spot in this article by being the most celebrated face of a vile organization whose exploitative, anti-scientific tentacles reach all corners of the globe. One of the main points of Alex Gibney’s HBO documentary, based on Lawrence Wright’s Going Clear, was to criticize the Church of Scientology for its tax-exempt status, as well as Cruise’s position within it. The Church’s minimal charity work is widely seen as a sham to promote the illusion that it is a non-profit organization. But the Church’s widespread abuses have been described by multiple former members, which obviously undermines its whole “we have a slight interest in human rights” thing. For over a decade, Cruise has made this cash cult the hallmark of his identity. Some pretty risky business, indeed.