Blockout 2024: Why People Are Turning Their Backs On Celebrities

It's paramount to use your platform for good, says Aicha Chalouche

via pattypopculture / TikTok

For almost 76 years, the Met Gala has flaunted hundreds of celebrities and influencers in designer gowns and suits that probably cost more than the average person’s entire salary. This year was no different, except something else was happening at the same time.

If you were watching the Met Gala that night, you might have switched to any news channel and seen that Rafah was being bombed relentlessly, with hundreds of innocent civilians losing their homes, loved ones, and lives.

This brought the question: what should we really be paying attention to? The very next morning, social media platforms, particularly TikTok, were flooded with photos of the opulence displayed at the Met compared with photos of the devastation caused in Rafah. This outraged a lot of people, and so a movement was created, called Blockout 2024.

Thousands of people across all media platforms blocked all the celebrities they could think of, especially those who had not used their large platforms to speak out against the injustice happening in Gaza. Blockout 2024 shed light on two discussions that have been circulating online for a while now. Should we expect celebrities and influencers to speak out against political issues and humanitarian crises? And furthermore, should we be giving celebrities any of our attention at all?

The question of where we should be directing our attention is even more relevant today, as the situation in Gaza has escalated horrifically. In recent days, Israeli forces attacked a refugee camp in Rafah, a place that was supposed to provide safety to civilians. Tents were set on fire, and more innocent men, women and children were murdered.

Although we might feel like there is nothing we can do to help the people in Gaza, our engagement with posts about the atrocities being committed does make a difference. The more attention a piece of media gets, especially on social media, the more people see it. People can learn, donate and advocate for justice. It is so important that we pay attention to what is happening around us, because it does make all the difference. This is exactly why there is an urgent call for creators on social media to use their platforms as a space for people to learn, speak out against injustice, and help.

@iamblakeley #celebrityblocklist Letssssss gooooo! #blockout2024 #celebrity ♬ original sound – 🧀🍟(They/Them)

You could argue that it is not the responsibility of a celebrity or an influencer to talk about politics or global conflict on their platform. They’re probably not experts in those fields, so should we be making it their job to educate us on issues or call for change? That being said, what is an influencer’s job, if not to influence? Maybe it should be the responsibility of an influencer to make content based on what their followers want to hear, even if that is a topic they don’t know a lot about. It never hurts to educate yourself about something.

Many people wonder why someone who has so many followers, such a large platform, wouldn’t use it to help others less fortunate than them. If you know you can make a difference, why wouldn’t you? In September 2023, Taylor Swift called on her 272 million followers to register to vote. Shortly afterwards, 35,000 people registered on the website she had directed them to. This was no coincidence. Swift has been a target in the Blockout, as she has been silent about the conflict in Gaza, meaning many users have either blocked or unfollowed her. 

Influencers on TikTok have also been targeted in the campaign. Since its conception, Tiktok has become a space for activism and advocacy, playing a huge role in movements such as Black Lives Matter and protests against the war in Ukraine. Many creators got involved in these movements, but there seems to be less momentum with what’s happening in Gaza.

One creator, Brittany Broski, has come under a lot of fire recently. She has used her platform to advocate for other causes before, and has publicly stressed the importance of using your platform for activism, but her silence on the situation in Gaza has made her followers question where her values actually stand. Selective activism is not productive as it silences other vulnerable groups. Similar to the criticism of Taylor Swift, many believe that influencers shouldn’t get to pick and choose when to fight and who to fight for. 

There are some questions about what sort of an impact this Blockout could have on celebrity culture. A lot of celebrities have been advocating for Palestinians way before the Blockout started, so it’s probably safe to say they’re doing it for the right reasons. Many of them have even compromised their standing in the industry. Actress Melissa Barrera, who continues to use her platform to call out the injustices, was dropped by her label and fired from the Scream franchise as a result.


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A post shared by Melissa Barrera (@melissabarreram)

Many Irish celebrities have also been advocating for justice and raising funds for the people in Gaza. Bridgerton star Nicola Coughlan has been consistently sharing information about the situation with her followers on Instagram, as well as speaking out against the actions of Israeli forces in public and sporting the Artists for Ceasefire pin at press events. 

In wake of the Blockout movement, many more celebrities have begun posting infographics about Gaza, or posting links to GoFundMe pages. It’s a good thing that more awareness is being spread, and more people are reaching out to help, but it can be hard to tell if these celebrities are only posting now to save themselves from the ‘purge’. Is the blockout leading to performative activism? Is performative activism better than no activism at all?

It’s hard to tell, but the movement has reminded everybody where the power really lies, and it’s not with the celebrity. If an influencer or celebrity were to lose most of their followers, it would be catastrophic for their brand, their income and their livelihood. Perhaps many celebrities will change the way they use their platforms because of this Blockout.

Interestingly, others are participating in the blockout for reasons other than activism, or lack thereof. People are starting to question what purpose celebrities serve. Do they actually do anything for us, or are they just something to throw our money and attention at? Of course, we all like different celebrities for different reasons. We love artists because of the music they give us, actors for the movies and shows we see them in.

But is that where the idolisation should end? We respect doctors for the work they do, but we don’t put them on a pedestal and pay them millions a minute. Should we start treating celebrities the same way? A lot of people think so, and the Blockout movement is pushing this idea further. 

Many believe that if the very concept of a celebrity is to continue, they should use their fame and power in a more productive way that benefits everyone, otherwise they shouldn’t be given a platform. Others believe that we should take celebrities down from their pedestals altogether, and redefine what it means to be famous.

Either way, it’s clear that Blockout 2024 is a big deal, and it could make a huge impact on the way we see and treat famous people. A movement like this could change the future of celebrity culture completely.

Words by Aicha Chalouche