Anahita Padmanabhan ‘18 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Many authors have been expressing their opinions through social media. One notable example is JK Rowling, who has commented on a variety of issues, from the Scottish Referendum to bigotry perpetuated by political figures. Recently, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie made a comment about trans women and privilege that is now facing backlash for its exclusivity. Overall, authors have been using their platform and reach to talk about their stances on political issues that they find important.
Right now, in America, many people are finding that conversation is becoming more and more political. The things we think about and find important all relate to politicized events. Everything from immigration to healthcare to the economy has been talked about, and is constantly surrounding us, and it’s natural for citizens to share their opinions. Even for people in the international community, it’s talking about what is happening in other countries and talking about various implications of different kinds of policies for the world. Open Facebook or Twitter and our feeds are filled with people talking about the issues that matter to them.
People before flags, answers not slogans, reason not ranting, unity not enmity #bettertogether
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) September 6, 2014
So why should it be any different for authors?
Authors are citizens too, and have the right to express themselves. They are entitled to opinions because what is happening in the world impacts them too. There are plenty of readers who might think that the authors they read shouldn’t be writing or talking about political things. On one hand, yes, it could cause some readers to turn their backs on authors. Some people don’t think that it’s right for authors to be talking about politics. Not to mention difference in opinions can definitely cause readers to react negatively toward authors.
But regardless, authors are entitled to their opinions. People are all allowed to share their opinions so why can’t authors? Besides that, authors have such a wide reach. Being able to connect to people through their writing means that they can reach out to their audiences and create discourse around the things that they find interesting or important or relevant. They have the ability to bring issues to the forefront and get people talking.
Authors writing about political topics also allows for different insight into a topic. Some write about personal stories relating to topics like immigration or being a refugee, and that kind of insight is helpful in creating a dialogue and connection between people with differing views, and people who don’t share the same experiences. It makes sense for authors to be vocal and to be champions of various causes. The power of writing means that they are the best at conveying messages. They know how best to reach audiences, and they have the power to talk about issues.
It’s important to allow people to talk about what they find important, and that isn’t restricted to non-famous people. Everyone is impacted by politics and policy changes. People are allowed to talk about their opinions and it’s unfair to say that authors don’t get to exercise the same right. Writing has always been an important way of communicating, but even fiction authors use it to share serious thoughts. Novels allow for representation, and for stories to be told and points to be made both implicitly and explicitly. Writing has always been the way to communicate ideas across borders and boundaries. That’s how ideas spread, and things get shared. People read about topics that they don’t normally think about, they read to learn.
While authors may fear losing members of their audiences, the overall benefit of having authors writing about important topics outweighs that cost. Authors are creating a space for people of all ages, from children to adults, to start thinking about important issues. Their writing allows people to connect with stories that they may not have considered before. Authors open new worlds, new possibilities and new ways of thinking, so it’s important for them to not restrict themselves, and to be able to write about the things that they find important. Books are always essential to expanding people’s minds, and authors should take their platform as an opportunity to engage their audience, and create discourse around important issues. Authors have always used their platform to be political and to shape discourse, and now is not the time for that to stop, no matter what the consequences.