The Problematic Celebrity Of The Parkland Student Survivors [Opinion]

On Sunday, February 25, David Hogg talks about common sense gun legislation at Temple B'nai Abraham in Livingston, New Jersey.
Rich Schultz / AP Images

On February 14, Nikolas Cruz went on a shooting rampage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. People across the nation and the globe expressed horror and sadness upon learning of the tragic deaths of 17 people: three staff members and 14 students. People equally felt sharp anger and deep frustration over the many ignored signs, subsequently reported by the Miami Herald, that pointed toward Cruz committing an act of violence of this scale.

Technology allowed students to communicate with others and the world as the horrific incident unfolded. The terror that must have been felt in the high school by students and staff alike is ultimately unimaginable, however. The tweets from the Parkland survivors offered but a glimpse of the harrowing experience.

In the aftermath of this mass shooting, one of the worst in recent history, students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School described what they had survived. In rapid response, feelings of outrage surfaced as the country learned of the cowardice of some that neglected their duty to protect the public. The New York Post reported thatfour sheriff’s deputies hid behind cars in lieu of confronting Cruz.

A little over two weeks after the deadly attack, many are now listening to some of the Parkland student survivors and struggling with their feelings. People have questioned their activism as their cri de coeur continues to be heard seemingly everywhere.

“Please address the issue of gun control,” they demand.

People have also accused some of the high school students of reveling in their newfound celebrity status. Certainly, at first glance, this appears to be the case. David Hogg, one of the more prominent Parkland student survivors, can be seen at a number of events, and his views are showcased on many different media outlets. An insta-activist, he frequently lectures politicians, including President Trump, on what he sees as their failure to act.

Emma González, another student-cum-activist from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, penned a piece that was featured in Harper’s Bazaar. In it, she laments the sophomoric conduct of adults; she defends her new role as an agent of change.

Students walking to class at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Emma Gonzalez and other students return to school at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. John Raedle / Getty Images

Writer Peter Heck offers a nuanced look at David Hogg in a piece on To an extent, it counters the negative perception that some have of him. Indeed, Heck paints the teenager in a sympathetic light. He clearly sees him as someone whose young age occasionally betrays him as he attempts to navigate his way through the media maelstrom that has engulfed him and his friends.

Still, something seems amiss in Hogg’s activism and that of his classmates. While they one day must act as leaders for the coming generations as others have done for them, it must be noted that that day is certainly not now.

Moreover, these students should not be expounding policy or be demanding an audience. They also need to learn that some of the most effective and powerful change agents in this country’s history have incited positive action by working well outside of the limelight.