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‘Celebrity Blockout 2024’: Viral movement urges blocking celebrities silent on humanitarian issues

Blocking social media influencers on the internet has always been normal—almost everyone does it whenever they think someone, or their content doesn’t seem relevant to them or is harmful for them.

But recently, things have started to take a more serious turn as social media users move to block celebrities who have not spoken about the ongoing humanitarian crisis and genocide in Gaza and other Palestinian territories. People have also become more vocal in calling out different celebrities for not using their influence to good use.

The online movement, now known as the ‘digital guillotine’, and was coined as such by TikTok creator @ladyfromtheoutside, grew to fruition during the 2024 Met Gala, with famous A-listers such as Zendaya, Kim Kardashian, Kylie Jenner, Kendall Jenner, Jennifer Lopez, and more in attendance. Simultaneously as the Met Gala was going on, Rafah was bombarded by Israeli occupation forces, with civilians told to evacuate and leave.

Jarring images placing the two events side-by-side drew in disgust and shame from many Internet users. Not even days after, a video of TikTok influencer Haley Kalil filmed outside the Met Gala turned viral after it was seen that she had lip-synced to the words, “let them eat cake.”

If you’re well-versed in history, then this phrase might have reminded you of someone, say, Marie Antoinette.

Yeah, that’s right. The former Queen of France that got her head chopped during the French Revolution. Though she did not technically say it, the phrase was still attributed to her due to her lavish lifestyle and her apparent ignorance for the socio-political climate of her time period.

To remind everyone of what happened during the French Revolution, the French public was incredibly unhappy with their situation that they had to rise up, abolish the monarchy, and put all the aristocrats explicitly involved with their suffering to trial and death by guillotine.

In a similar manner, social media users are now blocking and holding almost every celebrity who hasn’t spoken out in support for Palestine accountable. Hence the name of this movement, the ‘digital guillotine.’

Palestinian journalist and activist Bisan Owda also spoke in favor of the online movement in an Instagram story, where she said, “Yalla, let’s all block the people who we made famous and rich..who are living in a fantasy world.. destroying our environment, society, harmony and economy, and don’t even put some effort to educate themselves about us, the 99% of the world’s population who made them.”

Different social media users have posted their list of celebrities to block, which often include Kim Kardashian, Khloe Kardashian, Kourtney Kardashian Baker, Kendall Jenner, Kylie Jenner, Doja Cat, Ariana Grande, Taylor Swift, Beyonce, Billie Eilish, Justin Bieber, and more.

The lists also included famous names in K-Pop, such as BLACKPINK, BTS, and Stray Kids.

Many social media users, especially on X and TikTok, were supportive of the online movement. This was quite evident, as several celebrities such as Selena Gomez, Taylor Swift, Zendaya, Kim Kardashian, and Beyonce, have lost a significant number of followers.

Some experts also spoke out in favor of the ‘digital guillotine’ online movement, such as Catherine Corrigall-Brown, a professor of sociology at the University of British Columbia. In an interview with CBC Kids News, she said, “I think the blockout is very clever. It brings attention to an issue, and it allows those who can’t vote to still make an impact.”

Eddy Borges-Rey, an associate professor at Northwestern University in Qatar, said to Al Jazeera that blocking social media celebrities is more effective as it, in turn, “decreases the celebrity’s audience size, leading social media algorithms to deprioritize their content.”

However, at the same time, experts and some social media users are also skeptical about the effectiveness of the online movement.

Beth Fossen, assistant professor of marketing at Indiana University, for example, said in an interview with AP News that it may depend on a celebrity or influencer’s “brand”. She said that if a famous person’s “brand” is connected to humanitarian causes, then they would be more affected than one who is known for their beauty or talent.

Others also pointed out that the “Blockout 2024” online movement may just be another example of performative activism, where people only speak out when the iron is hot then drop it when it’s not. Social media users have also mentioned how the “Blockout 2024” could possibly override the issue of the Palestinians entirely.

While it is good to hold those who have been silent over the humanitarian issue accountable, some celebrities have used their influence to advocate for a ceasefire in Gaza.

Some known celebrities who have made headlines for their continuous activism for Gaza are Hunter Schafer, Nicola Coughlan, Kehlani, Bella Hadid, Gigi Hadid, Macklemore, Reneé Rapp, Boygenius, Dua Lipa, Hozier, Ayo Edebiri, Melissa Barrera, Billie Eilish, Mark Ruffalo, Angelina Jolie, Pedro Pascal, Lena Headey, Annie Lennox, Rachel Zegler, and Kid Cudi.

Let us also remember that there may be other celebrities there who share our sentiments, but they are unable to voice out their political views due to possible intimidation.


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