The Politics of Celebrity

At the Republican National Convention in 2012, it was Clint Eastwood who made a splash with his speech regarding President Obama.  At the Democratic National Convention in that same year, Kal Penn of Harold and Kumar fame, made a veiled reference to Eastwood’s speech and made overtures toward younger Americans to vote.  In 1964, actor Raymond Massey made a campaign commercial for Republican Barry Goldwater.  Actor E.G. Marshall filmed a spot for Hubert Humphrey in 1968.  Paul Newman campaigned for another Democrat in 1968, Eugene McCarthy.  Sammy Davis Jr. endorsed President Nixon.  Singer Pearl Bailey in 1976 for President Ford.    Even Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon endorsed Ralph Nader in 2000.   The list of celebrities endorsing and campaigning for Presidents and presidential candidates is almost endless.  I once watched a PBS documentary entitled, “Vote For Me”, where the then head of the Oklahoma Democratic Party referred to politics as “show business for ugly people.”  He was alluding to the entertainment value of political campaigns and how the political process had become superficial over the years.  This documentary was filmed in the mid-1990s.

Today, it seems as if politics and entertainment industry have come together as one.  Entertainers of all political stripes are now engaged in the political process by adding their opinions to the issues, events, and candidates of the day through social media and traditional media outlets alike.  Has the separation between politics and entertainment become blurred over the years?  Do you believe that entertainers have any influence on the political process?

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19 responses to “The Politics of Celebrity

  1. As the article said in more recent years we have see more celebrities publicly supporting candidates. I feel this will be something that we see more and more of. Most americans are so busy that political matters are not high up on their priority list. Many people don’t follow politics and when it come time to vote if they see their favorite entertainer supporting a candidate then they don’t have to look any further. this saves them time and they can do other things that are more important to them. Entertainers have their fans following and if a candidate can tap into that then it might just make the difference in winning or losing. I guess all is fair in love and war…..

  2. I believe that entertainers have increasingly become more effective towards the political process. Celebrities have already succeeded towards fame and money, and shifting their attention towards a political view or even simply advertising for a candidate, will increase the chances of votes and voters. It is definitely in the candidates favor if an entertainer is willing to help advertise and share the spotlight, in order to guarantee a win. It would bring the right kind of attention, that is needed when running in an election. In the past there was a separation between the two, entertainers did not share their political views as much, but as time moved on, entertainers began to speak out on a higher level and view point on the election and candidates who were running. Entertainers can definitely influence the political process.

  3. Muhammad Matariyeh

    In my opinion, entertainers possess more influence than they deserve. I would personally never base my vote on an entertainer’s point of view regarding a political candidate. However, in today’s day and age, there are more avenues to discover the opinions of famous celebrities, which results in celebrities providing greater influence than ever in many aspects of life. Overall, I believe this is a travesty, because entertainers should solely focus their efforts on entertaining, rather than influencing the general public.

  4. Tracy Gray-Caruthers

    I definitely think that celebrity and celebrities can have an influence on politics and policy. It was only when black entertainers (Ray Charles, etc) decided that they would stop performing at venues where they were not allowed to enter through the front door, or stay overnight or eat that things began to change in the deeply segregated south. It was Harry Belafonte, Lena Horne, Josephine Baker, Ruby Dee, Ossie Davis, Paul Lawrence Dunbar, Sidney Poitier and others who used their cachet and influence to speak about the unfair treatment of blacks every time someone stuck a mic anywhere near their faces. They helped to change things.
    I think celebrities should feel a responsibility to stand for something more than just the growth of their own bank accounts, the number of Twitter followers they can accrue and the popularity of their own brands.

  5. Lyndon Jackson

    I believe that celebrities have a limited amount of influence over their fans. A celebrity’s endorsement can be beneficial to many brands such as Nike, Pepsi, or Adidas but when it comes to voting it can be hit-or-miss. President Obama had a considerable amount of celebrities come out and campaign for him and he won the election. But during the 2004 Presidential election Diddy started an entire “Vote or Die” movement to try to get young people to vote for Kerry and likewise Eminem campaigned hard against Bush and it didn’t affect the outcome.

  6. Sammia Shehayber

    I think the separation between entertainment and politics has definitely become blurred over the years. We have see many celebrities speak publicly about politics regarding who and what issues they support. It impacts the political process greatly because each celebrity has a large number of followers that will easily be persuaded if their favorite celebrity is speaking out on any topic. It gets more people to pay attention to politics, and it encourages younger voters as well because the celebrities they look up to are making politics relevant to them .

  7. Yes I do believe that celebrities have a big impact, however, they impact the younger voters, and civilians who don’t follow politics very heavily. Also, I believe that politics goes hand in hand with entertainment now a days because people have shorter attention spans, in addition to the abundant amount of other TV channels or radio broadcast we can easily flip to now more then ever.

  8. Yes, I believe that celebrities can greatly impact the political process. I think this often happens when everyday citizens are wildly obsessed with celebrities and take everything they say to heart, including opinions on politics all the way to what they wear, who they like, etc. I know from past (young and immature) experience that when I watched a reality tv series, I admired one character, who hated the other character on the tv show. I even began to dislike the girl that I admired disliked and I did not even know these people. I also think that the line has been blurred between politics and and entertainment. I think most people give their opinions, including celebrities and people look up to these celebrities and listen to what these people really have to say. I think that celebrities should give their input to actually want to help the people since many people do look up to them, not to benefit themselves or get their name trending because of their opinion on a specific issue.

  9. Graziella LiVolsi

    I definitely believe people are having a hard time realizing that the role of a politician is very different than that of an entertainer. Because politicians are a public figure, people often regard them as celebrities and embrace events or appearances they make that have nothing to do with our country. Personally, I think Obama and other politicians should not be starring on shows like the Late Show with Jimmy Fallon, not when there are more important matters at stake for our country. Entertainers have a huge influence on the success of the politician they are representing because when a celebrity with a huge following advocates for a politician, the fans of that celebrity will most likely vote in favor of that politician. The younger generations are especially influenced by the connection between celebrities and politicians.

  10. Nikki Thompson

    in my opinion I think that entertainers actually have a good influence on politics because just think of the two words. politics. entertainers. which sounds more interesting to you? Therefore entertainers give politics a better name and people will be more interested. Now don’t get me wrong I don’t think that it is a good thing. They should definitely not be put together because politics are a more serious thing and entertain is just that. It isn’t for seriousness and doesn’t have much of anything to do with our country.

  11. Entertainers have influence on the political process, just like anyone else. They are citizens along with everyone, they are able to vote and voice their opinion. Where I think the problem is, is that when celebrities campaign with their favorite candidate and the people who watch campaigns and see their favorite celebrities with these candidates will then vote for them cause their favorite celebrity likes them to. It’s as if the people think the celebrity knows best and they follow their lead.

  12. I think that entertainers definitely have a influence in politics. We shouldn’t just vote for somebody because an entertainer we like says so, but it does have an impact on people. If we look at entertainers like Jon Stewart and some other tonight show hosts, we see how much fun they have poking political humor at anyone in politics. That can easily persuade people to like or dislike a politician. I watch Jimmy Fallon and he often pokes fun at Gov Chris Christie about his weight and at one time he had him on the show dancing with him. If he chooses to run for president in 2016, all the press he gets on the tonight show can help him with his campaign. Therefore, entertainers have a great impact in the political process.

  13. i think people in the entertainment industry can have a big impact on politics. They are just like any other citizen and are people that have their voices heard more. if a famous person is campaigning for a person, most likely citizens are going to hear about it and look into what they are campaigning on and voice their opinions.

  14. I believe that entertainers do have a big impact on politics. I feel that now more with social media being so greatly huge it makes a big difference in politics. The more the audience sees that celebrities get involved with politics, the more I see people wanting to give their opinion and outlook on situations and/or political individuals. I believe this can be both a good thing and bad. The good thing is that people now feel a bit more comfortable with giving their political outlook on things. I don’t see much of a hush hush about it. The down side about it is that some people see things that celebrities do as a trend. They can get into it for a couple days, months, years, etc and do not keep at it if their celebrity of choice stops.

  15. I defiantly think celebrities and entertainers have a huge effect on politics. What comes to my mind is when Obama was first elected. There was a very large number of African American celebrities promoting Obama. You can tell this was taken very seriously by the media, and younger “trendy” voters may have even been influenced by this. So in fact yes, I think entertainers have a large effect on politics

  16. Jennifer Dell

    I think the lines between politics and entertainment had been blurred over time. Politicians are endorsed by celebrities all the time and I think that’s okay because celebrities are people too. They are entitled to their opinion’s just as we are. They may as well use their money to support their candidate. I think celebrities are extremely influential when it comes to certain types of voters.

  17. Niko Dominguez

    I feel like celebrities do have an impact on the political process. famous people are an icon for people who are and who do not involve themselves in the political process. when a certain celebrity supports a candidate people will realize who they are supporting and could possibly vote for that particular person.

  18. i do believe the separation between politics and entertainment has become blurred over the years. It is now fairly common to see celebrities get involved into politics and campaigns. I do believe celebrities have an impact on the political process. I think, unfortunately, a larger percent of the population follows celebrities than politics. Many people look up to celebrities so when they involve themselves in politics they interest a new audience and sway opinions of their followers and fans.

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