A decade of social media has created a web of famous activists who wield enormous influence
Celebrities taking up social justice arms used to elicit cries of treason. Jane Fonda was dubbed “Hanoi Jane” and labeled a traitor after speaking out against U.S. tactics during the Vietnam War. In 2003, country music trio the Dixie Chicks were effectively blackballed from the entertainment industry after criticizing former President George W. Bush’s decision to invade Iraq in the wake of 9/11.
Now, however, activism and fame seem to go hand-in-hand, a package deal of star power and standing for something larger than oneself. The rise of social media has played a large role in propelling social consciousness, with celebrities posting their own impassioned PSAs or broadcasting protests from smartphones alongside Instagrams from red carpet premieres. Call it an epidemic of consciousness with a side of brand recognition, but the end result is the same: awareness. Here, we’ve charted the robust celebrity activist universe. Follow the threads to figure out who cares about what in 2016.