Lola Kirke, the Kirke sister who isn’t Jessa on Girls or married to Gossip Girl from Gossip Girl (that’s a spoiler, but I’m not sorry) but is the lead of Mozart in the Jungle, was interviewed by Vogue about her new movie, Gemini. I haven’t heard of Gemini, a thriller that premiered at SXSW this week, but it has an eclectic, festival-ready cast (John Cho, Zoe Kravitz, and Ricki Lake among them) and sounds fine.
But enough about Capricorn. The conversation didn’t really get fired up until writer Sam Fragoso moved on to another topic: politics. Kirke has been outspoken about political issues in the past, so it’s no surprise that she was asked whether or not celebrities “have a responsibility to talk publicly about politics.”
“I mean, in this fucking day and age, yeah, I do,” she said, adding:
For me, it’s really important to elevate voices and causes that don’t get as much attention with whatever attention I get. I totally understand why some people won’t do that; I definitely think that there are certain celebrities who really could offer more help to grassroots movements with their power—and don’t.
“People with a huge platform,” Fragoso responded, perhaps craving—but never expecting—what happened next.
Yeah, like Taylor fucking Swift, who may as well have voted for Trump, as far as I’m concerned, by not doing anything.
I think that the age of celebrity is so confusing and weird, and everyone is a celebrity, and everyone has this weird power that they got because they know how to take a picture of themselves.
We can do something profound with these outlets and platforms. You can imbue everything you’re doing with meaning. I believe that life is meaningful and I believe there are things that are important that are not getting the attention that they deserve.
Kirke makes very good points here, but it’s worth noting (and this is by no means a drag) that her level of celebrity is almost incomparable to Swift’s. While it’s great to be outspoken and politically active when the mic is hot, it’s easier to speak freely when—again, no offense—fewer people are paying attention. Am I personally annoyed at Swift for saying nothing last fall? Yeah, I think so. Should I have been? Unclear!
In a conversation with the Times earlier this year, Swift’s friend (and Jemima’s bestie) Lena Dunham called out how exhausting it can be to speak out about political and social issues once your fame exceeds a certain—and perhaps undefinable—tipping point. When every word you say is scrutinized. When there’s a troll who will drown you with hate for literally any point of view. Though she was specifically discussing getting ahead of a scandal as opposed to being vocal about politics, suggesting that celebrities should just keep their mouths shut sometimes could easily apply to both.
[Judd Apatow] told me the right people are going to understand, and everything else is just noise. You’re just going to drain your creative energy, standing out there fight, fight, fighting. And it freed me.
Having said that, Dunham once praised Amy Schumer for not taking that advice. From an issue of Lenny Letter last year:
LD: When I was going to the DNC, I was getting interviewed and someone asked, “Why do you feel confident coming out so hard for a presidential candidate?” And I said this thing that I afterward realized was so dumb — I was like, “I don’t have to be scared because I don’t care about starring in a rom-com, so I can say whatever I want.”
And then I realized, “Amy is busting this whole thing open because she is starring in marketable movies.” Not everyone who comes to see your movies shares your belief system and they are still fucking showing up to them, and that is you, like, busting open the idea that we all have to toe the line in order to be commercially palatable. You are basically saying, “It’s done.”
I’m bringing up Dunham’s two opposing comments not to yell, “Gotcha,” but because she’s one of the only celebrities who regularly discusses it. The personal and ethical quandary surrounding A-list activism in the social media age is a fascinating one, and hard to comment on as a non-famous person who can say “I VOTED FOR HILLARY” without anyone batting an eye. In any case, I’ve emailed Taylor Swift’s rep for comment, and will update this post if I hear back—even if her response is as simple as, “Who’s Lola Kirke?”
Don’t miss Scorpio, in theaters at some point.