Opinion: Twenty One Pilots mocks racial activism

Written BY NINA BENICH, staff writer
Photo courtesy of @tylerrjoseph on Twitter

As 2020 (unfortunately) continues on and the issues that America faces seem to double by the day, racial tensions and the current significance of the Black Lives Matter movement seem to be at the forefront of everyone’s Twitter feed. 

Countless petitions still need to be signed, cops need to be charged, and evidently, certain celebrities need to break their silences. One such celebrity being Twenty One Pilots’ frontman, Tyler Joseph. 

From what I have observed, Joseph has never been one for political talk — he frequently expresses his concerns surrounding topics of mental health through both his lyrics and social media posts, but gives little attention to social issues like police brutality. The only effort he made this summer was participating in the infamous #BlackoutTuesday trend  on the band’s official Instagram account. 

Justifiably, fans have been berating him to use his excessive privilege and platform to raise awareness, post links to petitions and mainly talk about current racial tensions in a way that might serve to educate his younger followers, as well as anyone who idolizes him. 

On Sept. 2, in response to these requests, he tweeted, “you guys keep asking me to use my platforms. feels good to dust these bad boys off,” and included two pictures of him wearing white DollsKill platform sneakers. 

In response to this, fans expressed their disappointment, some of them being social media influencers, others being longtime supporters. 

Emmy Hartman, a TikTok star with 1.9 million followers, tweeted, “Do you realize how diverse your fan base is, and how many people look up to you that are affected by so many of these issues you refuse to speak out about… so f*cking disappointing.” 

In my opinion, she hit the nail right on the head. The scandal opened up many opportunities for fans to evaluate not only Joseph’s stance on the Black Lives Matter movement, but also that of other celebrities who may not have donated, provided their opinion or even acknowledged recent occurrences. 

Joseph then segwayed into a conversation about September being Mental Health Awareness Month, although this discussion wasn’t the one that proved to satisfy fans. He replied with a link to the website blacklivesmatters.carrd.co and a further apology. 

In response, popular YouTuber D’Angelo Wallace quote tweeted, “NOBODY was asking you to tweet about Black Lives Matter INSTEAD of mental health. They coincide. Please read something deeper than your song lyrics.” 

While I will never experience racial bias firsthand, Joseph’s tweet did greatly disappoint me. 

If you weren’t personally offended by the tweet, take a moment to imagine being a longtime, dedicated fan whose idol refuses to address issues that directly affect your everyday life, and when they finally acknowledge the countless requests they’ve received to do so, they decide to make a joke out of it. 

Although we may not want to believe it, our favorite A-listers are, more often than not, blinded by their own wealth, popularity and relevance, which leads them to become uneducated on the issues that truly matter. 

While Joseph has previously used Twitter to discuss issues like mental health and suicide prevention, taking on others such as human rights would help to distribute his influence across all corners of socia  media and educate those who truly need it. 

Instead of the “platform” tweet, he could have posted links, shared his own thoughts on the matter or simply confirmed that he donated to an important cause. Due to his failure to do so, he stirred up anger within his audience, gained criticism and lost trust from dedicated fans. 

This incident goes to show the true power celebrities have, as well as the power social media gives to consumers. It gives us an advantage and helps to unite us through a computer screen even when we’re divided in the outside world.