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.

GIF from "Lord of the Rings: Return of the King."


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.

Words reforged from the shards of Narsil, that is. GIF from "Lord of the Rings: Return of the King."

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.

GIF from "Lord of the Rings: Return of the King."

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.

GIF from "Democracy Now!"

"[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.

GIF from "Democracy Now!"

"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.

GIF from "Democracy Now!"

"[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.

GIF from "Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers."

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.

GIF from "Lord of the Rings: Return of the King."

Check out part one of the interview:

For more, see parts two, three, and four.

Albert Einstein

One of the strangest things about being human is that people of lesser intelligence tend to overestimate how smart they are and people who are highly intelligent tend to underestimate how smart they are.

This is called the Dunning-Kruger effect and it’s proven every time you log onto Facebook and see someone from high school who thinks they know more about vaccines than a doctor.

The interesting thing is that even though people are poor judges of their own smarts, we’ve evolved to be pretty good at judging the intelligence of others.

“Such findings imply that, in order to be adaptive, first impressions of personality or social characteristics should be accurate,” a study published in the journal Intelligence says. “There is accumulating evidence that this is indeed the case—at least to some extent—for traits such as intelligence extraversion, conscientiousness, openness, and narcissism, and even for characteristics such as sexual orientation, political ideology, or antigay prejudice.”

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'Merry Christmas' on YouTube.

The world must have been—mostly—good this year. Because Elton John and Ed Sheeran have teamed up to gift us all with a brand new Christmas single.

The song, aptly named “Merry Christmas,” is a perfect blend of silly and sweet that’s cheery, bright and just a touch bizarre.

Created with the holiday spirit in every way, it has whimsical snowball fights, snow angels (basically all the snow things), festive sweaters, iconic throwbacks and twinkling lights galore. Plus all profits from the tune are dedicated to two charities: the Ed Sheeran Suffolk Music Foundation and the Elton John AIDS Foundation.

I personally don’t know which is more of a highlight: Ed Sheeran channeling his inner-Mariah, performing a faux sexy dance in a leg revealing Santa outfit, or him flying through the air with a giant Frosty the Snowman … who seems to be sporting glasses similar to Elton’s. Are we meant to believe that Elton is the Snowman? This music video even has mystery.
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