Are Celebrities Supporting Occupy Wall Street the Movement's Heroes, or Hypocrites?

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Published October 13, 2011

| FoxNews.com

Kanye West visited Occupy Wall Street in a $355 Givenchy shirt topped with wearing gold grills and chains.

Alec Baldwin claims he supports Occupy Wall Street, but makes big bucks starring in commercials for Capital One Bank.

Numerous other celebrities who annually pull in multiples of the average American salary also say they sympathize with the plight of the so-called 99 percent.

So are the stars who say they support the Occupy Wall Street movement some of the cause’s heroes, or are they hypocrites?

Producer and hip hop mogul Russell Simmons, who brought West to the protests at Liberty Square/Zuccotti Park on Monday, and who has personally been visiting the protests every day for the past 15 days, tells Fox411.com that people need to stop criticizing Kanye and focus on the issues.

“This is about the money in Washington, the whoring and the politicians,” Simmons told Fox411.com. “Kanye did a good thing. I saw all the complaints about him. Who cares? He came. He wanted to help. They all missed the point.”

Indeed, the protesters themselves cheered for West when he arrived, and claim he energized the group even further.

“It was great to see him out here. I don’t care what kind of shirt he was wearing.  He wanted to support us,” said graduate student Matt Gross. Occupy Wall Street protester Jane Frye, a barista in Brooklyn, added: “No one else camping out here has been asked how much their shirt cost or whether they got it at J. Crew or Goodwill.”

Outside of Kanye, the celebs who have visited the Occupy events have been more the activist ilk that one would expect to frequent such rallies, including Tim Robbins, his ex-life partner Susan Sarandon, Michael Moore, Roseanne Barr, and Penn Badgley of “Gossip Girl.”

Badgley responded to questions about the relative absurdity of someone like him attending a rally to redistribute wealth.

"I mean, listen, it's cheesy ... but I want to do whatever I can," Badgley said to the website Capital New York. "Let's be honest: I'm on `Gossip Girl.' It's absurd that celebrity power is what it is, but, like, use any tool you have, you know?"

“Cult of Celebrity” author Cooper Lawrence echoes Badgley’s thoughts on the absurdity of some celebrities coming out for the cause.

“They are indeed hypocrites, because they no longer share the same experiences or the same long-term problems of those who are protesting banks and big business,” Lawrence said. “Celebs love to glom on to stuff like this and act like they are just like us. Despite the fact they are nothing like us. Just as we don't live in their world of privilege, exorbitant salaries and everything at their beck and call, they don't really get it.”

Simmons disagrees.

“You can ask why I am there and why Kanye is there. We’re there because we are impassioned people who want to support this cause to give other people the opportunities we have gotten,” Simmons said. “A celebrity is valuable and some of them realize it and loan their celebrity to things they believe in.”

Some celebrities, however, are famous for flocking to a spotlight like a moth to a flame, and right now there is no bigger spotlight than that on Occupy Wall Street.

“It is definitely possible that some of them made visits to Occupy Wall Street because they are genuinely supporting the cause and messages of the protesters, but there may be others who are simply using the event as their own personal platform,”  Dorothy Cascerceri, senior editor of In Touch Weekly told Fox411. “Hollywood likes throwing its weight around when it comes to social issues, and this is certainly an example of that.”

 

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