Why an actor from 'Lord of the Rings' is worth hearing out on celebrities and politics.
"Lord of the Rings" actor Viggo Mortensen played the peace-seeking warrior-king Aragorn.
While Mortensen's life outside Middle Earth doesn't involve wielding a sword, he is a warrior for peace.
As a publisher and activist, his weapon of choice isn't cold steel — it's words.
In an interview with "Democracy Now!" he unsheathed a response to people who have criticized him and other American celebrities for speaking out against injustices.
Mortensen doesn't think any of us, celebrity or not, should yield to the powers that be when we know what they're doing is wrong.
Here are a few moments from the interview that cut to the heart of the matter:
Famous people are still allowed to care about things.
"[T]here are people who might watch this show and just say, 'Well, there's another jerk from the entertainment business shooting his mouth off.' I'm a citizen of this country. I'm a citizen of the world. ... I have as much right as anybody else to do that. How does a democracy work? How does freedom work? It works like that. People talking about what's going on."
That said, celebrities' opinions aren't worth more than anyone else's.
"Being someone in the entertainment business does not give you more right than anyone else to speak, and it certainly doesn't give you less right."
At the end of the day, we just have to remind elected officials that they work for all of us.
"[Critics say,] 'You're a movie maker, you don't have a right to speak. Let the politicians speak about politics.' Well, I think that letting our rulers decide how to govern us is not... we haven't had a great history there."
Celebrities who are vocal about politics are some of the easiest targets for public scorn.
But whether or not I agree, I'm glad for the ones who are informed, mindful of their influence, and willing to put themselves out there for what's right. Overcoming global challenges requires a global turnout to the conversation and a lot of hope in our ability to work together.
And if it takes Aragorn, High King of the Reunited Kingdom (I mean ... who better?) — or the actor and concerned citizen who portrays him, anyway — to get people talking about issues like war, imperialism, racism, and police brutality, then bring it on.
Check out part one of the interview:
For more, see parts two, three, and four.