Minaj is famous and so her tweets, unhelpful as they were, rated a spin through the news cycle. Clearly, touting misinformation — from anyone — is not helpful to persuading vaccine-resistant Americans.
That they have us discussing this at all may be part of the answer.
While many of us think Minaj acted irresponsibly, she seems to disagree. She parried all critics –and there were many- — through a couple days of social media blowback, even though there is a huge amount of data to show that Covid vaccines are safe and save lives and are crucial to any hope of ending the pandemic. As many pointed out, she ought to know this by now. But even so, right or wrong, Americans not under mandate by their place of employment are still free to do what they want — including Nicki Minaj. Anyone in America, meanwhile, is still free to say what they want. Including Nicki Minaj.
Let’s keep in mind that celebrities are just people, too. While their job, at the end of the day, is to entertain, they’re also people with a vast range of thoughts and opinions. And the range of their responses to Covid — even when they are skeptical, ill-informed, wrongheaded, even intentionally provocative — are representative of how many Americans feel in general, which is to say, confused.
They are subject to misinformation like many of us are; they should know better but they don’t always — and if they have a social media account or a radio show, particularly one that is helping them pay the bills, they may spout off.
It may be that many die-hard vaccine holdouts will, unfortunately, need to experience the consequences of their decision in their own lives — a family member getting sick, or getting sick themselves, for instance — in order to be swayed (though the Pew poll mentioned above certainly challenges such assumptions).
There is, however, a benefit in celebrities inserting themselves into these matters of public concern. And that is this: Such statements give us the chance to debunk them loud and long. Sure, we could always encourage a celebrity like Minaj or Rogan to direct their fans to science, but we certainly can’t force them to, nor can we force them to change their own minds about something.