The Ethicality of Paying Celebrities Large Amounts of Money

By Tabitha Harris, Opinion Editor

When I was younger, I didn’t pay much attention to professional athletes and actors and actresses. Since high school, however, I’ve since decided to become a bit more aware of the world around me which happens to include the above-mentioned individuals. While society as a whole has more or less accepted that certain people will just be paid exorbitant chunks of money for having some sort of talent, I’ve often wondered whether or not celebrities should receive millions of dollars for what they do.

Zoe Snugg, a British vlogger better known by her YouTube name Zoella, makes $62,720 each month with her two YouTube channels, according to The Guardian. This translates to $752,640 each year. Snugg’s main channel is devoted to fashion and beauty. She documents her various make-up and clothing hauls and, on her secondary channel, her everyday activities. It irks me that Zoella makes such massive amounts of money for simply documenting her day and her fashion and beauty experiences. Men and women fight and die for America every day without receiving anywhere near the same amount of compensation for their sacrifices while she goes shopping, shares her purchases with the world, and is paid over half a million each year. The discrepancy is pathetic.

According to Forbes Magazine, in 2016 Beyoncé received $54 million, Matt Damon $55 million, Justin Bieber $56 million, Dwayne Johnson $64.5 million, Rihanna $75 million, Ellen DeGeneres $75 million, LeBron James $77 million, Adele $80.5 million, and Taylor Swift clocked in as the highest paid female artist at a staggering $170 million. Jennifer Lawrence made it to highest paid female actress with $46 million.

As those astounding numbers sink in, think about what each of the above-mentioned individuals do for a living. Many of them sing, several act, some act and sing, and one plays basketball. Admittedly, they do those things rather well and they certainly have talent but does that mean they ought to be paid with more money than you or I can possibly fathom? Now I understand that many celebrities give liberally to charities and help fund causes they believe in. Such good deeds do not alter the number of zeros and dollar signs attached to their names.

In an effort to provide some contrasting examples, consider with me jobs such as policing, fire-fighting, and military positions. Each of those jobs involve enormous amounts of risk and often produce more heroes than singing or acting ever will. Individuals who toil tirelessly behind the scenes and who go un-thanked and un-appreciated deserve much more than a pat on the back. According to the Bureau of Labour Statistics, the average police officer makes around $56,260 each year, a sight less than Zoella or Taylor Swift. Military personnel risk their lives while back home, we pay talented people millions to keep us entertained.

The idea of “bread and circuses” is one which has floated through the world for thousands of years, finding its origins in the Roman Era. As long as the people were fed—bread—and entertained—circuses—the government was free to do whatever it wanted and nobody would bat an eye. While exact parallels can be drawn from that scenario to our own modern era, another more subtle parallel exists as well. American soldiers dying in the Middle East seems so far removed from our everyday life whereas Zoella’s latest beauty haul seems much closer to home. We’re content to watch and like her videos and we forget to give honor where honor is due.

The one-legged veteran or the fire-fighter with the horrible burn scars deserves much more respect and admiration than any celebrity. Their scars mean that instead of running from danger, they met it head-on, knowing that something else was more important than fear: the lives of other human beings. That is real and shining courage and it is worth more than all the millions of dollars The Rock makes in a year.

A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, April 4th print edition.

Contact Tabitha at

tabitha.harris@student.shu. edu


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