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Selena Gomez and the perils of celebrity politics

(Alberto E. Rodriguez/GETTY IMAGES FOR ESPY) (Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Espy)

Former tween star Selena Gomez got quite the social-media smackdown over an Instagram post last week in which she invited her followers to “Pray for Gaza.” The actress quickly backtracked from what some interpreted to be a pro-Palestine stance, following the post with a middle-of-the-road one that was impossible to argue with: “And of course to be clear, I am not picking any sides. I am praying for peace and humanity for all!” 

Lesson learned: “not picking any sides” (except for “peace,” which is totally okay to root for) is probably the only safe stance for a former Disney princess — even one who aspires to gravitas (guys, she’s a UNICEF ambassador!).

Gomez was treading the choppy waters that confront any celeb looking to wade into the political realm. From boundary-pushing to super-safe, here’s a sampling  from the spectrum of social causes the glitterati have embraced:


Some celebs who backed the White House in support of the Affordable Care Act got pushback from their fans. Team Obamacare recruited boldfacers — some of whom tried to downplay their involvement. Former boybander Lance Bass, for example, tweeted about his White House briefing on the subject, but later backpedaled, defensively tweeting “I have questions just like you — and I brought in several that my fans have brought up. I’m not writing any laws here. Don’t hate because I’m trying to get educated.”

Pretty safe

Environmental issues are relatively can’t-miss for celebs. Though debate over the topic rages in some quarters, the rare Hollywood type who sides (or appears to side) with climate-change deniers is roundly Internet-mocked. Take Pat Sajak, the “Wheel of Fortune” host who tweeted that “global warming alarmists are unpatriotic racists.”  Cue the puzzle memes.

Plus, it’s never a bad idea to be with Leo.

Slam dunks

Kids, animals, (for) and cancer (against) are fail-safe issues to latch onto.  That’s why the “It Gets Better” campaign aimed at giving hope to kids bullied because of their sexual orientation could enlist A-listers from Tom Hanks to Katy Perry to Kermit the Frog.


Emily Heil is the co-author of the Reliable Source and previously helped pen the In the Loop column with Al Kamen.



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