Celebrities are Giving Geography Lessons to Fans Who Couldn’t Care Less

I’d like to think of myself as being pretty hard to surprise by now.

Part of that is just how terrible this year has been. Part of it is that I spend way, way too much time online, seeing through the prisms of humanity’s worst inventions – Twitter, Facebook, and social media overall – just how strange the world is nowadays.

I’ve seen female conservative activists claim they think letting women vote was a bad idea. I’ve seen the Ukrainian government set up an entire social media account where they accuse Russia of being a toxic ex.

I’ve seen one of my favorite rappers, A$AP Rocky, being mentioned by a diplomatic ambassador during the impeachment trial of the President of the United States. This, of course, being the very same president who tweeted puns after trying to bully Sweden (our ally) to release Rocky.

Basically, call me a cynic, but it takes a lot to catch me off guard nowadays.

So when I say that I was surprised a while ago to see Dua Lipa of all people stoking nationalism in the Western Balkans last month, you can see why that’s impressive.

Yes, Dua Lipa, known for her hits “New Rules” and “Don’t Start Now” and…ugh…“Physical,” made big headlines across Europe and the United States for tweeting a map of what’s called Greater Albania, essentially claiming that portions of neighboring Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Greece belong to Albania.

If that all made very little sense, don’t worry, Balkan politics are messy and confusing. Basically, Serbs and Albanians tend to hate each other, and they especially fight over Kosovo, an Albanian-majority breakaway country from Serbia…where Dua Lipa’s parents came from before settling in London.

Essentially, most people walk on eggshells when they talk about anything relating to Kosovo, Serbia, Albania, really any of the countries in the area.

And then you’ve got this popstar sauntering in and tweeting her pride for Albanian land claims, before defending herself the next day by saying she’s against all kinds of hate, after a bunch of Serbs, Montenegrins, and Croats roasted her alive.

The ironic part? Dua Lipa wasn’t even the only singer out on this weird West Balkan binge. Rita Ora, another British superstar of Kosovar Albanian origin, had posted the day before pushing Apple to designate Kosovo on their map system (Apple, like all good huge companies, avoids getting entangled with hot political issues).

Yeah, all we need now is for Bebe Rexha to stop “working on her album” (who are we kidding, it’s been over two years, she’s retired and spending those checks on home) and come out in favor of taking Corfu back from the Greeks in order to get the Albanian celebrity trifecta.

But I don’t want you to think this is something that only happens regarding the Balkans and their weird, screwed-up politics. No, let’s go farther southeast, to the northern Middle East (always a good idea when we head to that area, right?), near the Caucasus Mountains.

Currently, Armenia and Azerbaijan are having some troubles. Much like the Balkan thing, this is an issue that goes back hundreds of years, mostly over a small territory between them called Artsakh. This is not the first time they’ve gone to war over the issue, but it is the first time in a few years.

With Turkey backing Azerbaijan and Russia presumably going to support its Armenian ally, this is going to be perhaps the messiest story of an already messy year. However, what I didn’t really see coming was another party jumping in: Kim Kardashian.

Yes, Kim Kardashian West, fashion icon, supermodel, and proof that the beautiful ones always choose the crazy guys, has been relentlessly posting in support of Armenia since the war’s outbreak.

Her choosing Armenia over Azerbaijan is probably due to her family lineage: her dad’s side of the family is Armenian-American, not too surprising for anyone who’s ever been to Glendale, California.

Between her husband’s Twitter meltdowns and her visits to Mexico, apparently, Kim’s been pushing the Trump administration, and the Obama one before it, to back Armenia more often, despite not speaking the language. She even visited the country with husband and daughter in tow in 2015, taking a few publicity shots by the official Armenian Genocide memorial.

And this is what’s been so weird as of late. It’s not that celebrities are using their platforms to talk about politics; that’s a tale as old as time. Stormzy comes out on the Glasgow stage flanked by Jeremy Corbyn. Ted Nugent spent eight years gunning for Obama as if the guy had broken his sister’s heart.

Hell, Alyssa Milano has made an entire second career out of just being one of the loudest voices for the American left (which is a tough category to win, given the entire cast of The West Wing qualifies).

No, the weird thing is how American and British celebrities are increasingly turning out as ardent supporters of causes that an overwhelming majority of their fans would not know about in the slightest.

The Balkans is a hot topic in Europe, Turkey, and Russia, maybe, but for most of the world? Nobody cares, especially not the fourteen-year-old fan of some pop star in Boston.

As for Kim Kardashian’s latest big cause, she may get a lot of love from Yerevan, but stateside, nothing really. Americans can’t even point out Iraq on a map, and we’ve been in that country for twenty years. You want them to know about Armenia and Azerbaijan?

I guess really this was inevitable. Artists have gotten such huge platforms; they were bound to start switching up. Why focus on just abortion rights or issues like gay marriage when a majority of your supporters already probably support them anyway?

No, if you want to really make a splash, you have to change lanes. If every big-city liberal is talking about the Supreme Court, then you go and talk about the Uyghurs in China, or the issue of the Ethiopian Great Renaissance Dam.

You have the platform, you have the celebrity; these guys are just making it global.

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