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Beyoncé, Kim K, Dwayne Johnson... Call for boycott of stars who remained silent on the war in Gaza

On social networks, calls to block the accounts of influential celebrities are intensifying, a movement which aims to sanction stars who have remained silent on the war in Gaza.

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Beyoncé, Kim K, Dwayne Johnson... Call for boycott of stars who remained silent on the war in Gaza

On social networks, calls to block the accounts of influential celebrities are intensifying, a movement which aims to sanction stars who have remained silent on the war in Gaza. On TikTok, the hashtag “blockout2024” had more than 30,000 publications on Monday. Videos listing the names of gala guests and other “unfollow” personalities attracted thousands of “likes”.

American singers Beyoncé and Taylor Swift and reality TV star and businesswoman Kim Kardashian are among the targets of this pro-Palestinian mobilization. And the wave of disapproval has been growing since the recent holding of the Met Gala with great fanfare, the great annual fashion event in New York attended by the elite of showbiz. “When they were bombing Rafah where there are thousands of children, we heard more about Zendaya's outfit than about what was happening” in this town in the Gaza Strip, denounces an Internet user named Shompa. “By blocking them, you hit them in the wallet.”

Also read: Claire Denis, André Téchiné, Cédric Kahn... Filmmakers from around the world demand a ceasefire in Gaza

According to the specialized site Social Blade, Kim Kardashian lost more than 814,000 subscribers on Instagram in one month, Selena Gomez more than a million, actor Dwayne Johnson known as “The Rock” more than 397,000 and Beyoncé around 700,000. “They know they should have talked about this a long time ago, but now that we have started this movement, they are starting to break the silence. It’s working, keep blocking!”, rejoices an influencer named Muna on TikTok.

Singer Lizzo published a video in which she invites her community to raise funds to help a doctor in Gaza get his family to safety, for Sudan or Congo. Under her publication, a "thank you" from one of her subscribers, then a shower of negative comments: "I'm going to continue to block her", "that's bullshit [...] she's just doing that because she is on the list,” and so on. Since the conflict in Gaza sparked by Hamas's unprecedented attack in Israel on October 7, pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli activists have been urging celebrities to take a stand on social media.

For David Jackson, a political science researcher specializing in youth mobilization, these calls are partly explained by the traditional involvement of stars in the United States in the political sphere and the fact that social networks give Internet users the impression to know their idols personally. “Not taking a position on an important issue, or taking an unpopular position, can lead to greater public disapproval” towards a star, the expert explains to AFP.

Also read: The Weeknd offers 1.8 million euros for supplies to Gaza residents

However, “this conflict is very, very delicate to manage for a celebrity,” underlines Natasha Lindstaedt, professor at the University of Essex who has studied celebrity activism. “And even statements that seem like they could be universally accepted can upset people,” she continues. American actress Susan Sarandon was thanked by her agency UTA after speaking at a pro-Palestinian rally in November. Comedian Jerry Seinfeld recently found himself under fire for getting closer to Israel.

This recent boycott movement started from a video, since deleted, in which content creator Haley Kalil filmed herself with a passage from the film Marie-Antoinette by Sofia Coppola in the background. We see the Queen of France saying “let them eat cake!” ("Let them eat cake !"). This famous phrase, which symbolizes the condescension of the powerful towards the poorest, has ignited social networks as the Palestinian population of the ravaged Gaza Strip is threatened by famine.

“It’s time to block all the celebrities, influencers and rich people who don’t use their resources to help those who desperately need it,” says influencer Rae, known as “Lady from the outside”, calling for places a “digital guillotine” against these personalities. Internet users' indignation was fueled by the excess of the Met Gala last week, where according to the New York Times, a place setting cost $75,000, an entire table cost $350,000.

On the networks, comparisons flourished between the New York event and the dystopian film Hunger Games. It depicts an elite who participate in sumptuous banquets and organize cruel games while part of the population dies of starvation. However, it is difficult to assess the financial impact of the movement on celebrities, “unless they are completely boycotted”, estimates Natasha Lindstaedt. “But in the case of Taylor Swift or Beyoncé there is no chance of that happening.”

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