Celebrities in PoliticsCelebrities should think carefully before they speak out on politics.
By: Talia Milavetz, Sibley Scribe
American culture places an enormous emphasis on celebrity. We look up to celebrities almost as if they are royalty. Everyone wants to know what they are wearing, what music they are listening to, and what the next move in their career is going to be. But what is the role of celebrities in politics? Should they have a role? This year, as the elections approach, many celebrities are being questioned about their political views. Some are reluctant to share, while others share openly, and without any reservations.
On September 10th, Chelsea Handler, host of late night comedy talk show Chelsea Lately, shared her own version of a political campaign. Chelsea created a video that spoofed the political ads that are aimed against gay marriage. She first showed an actual ad that was against gay marriage. She then had her writers come up with a political ad that took what the original ad said to the extreme, in order to make her case that she believed the ad was incorrect. The video got an enormous response of laughter from the audience, which suggests that they agreed with what Chelsea said.
The video was later published on Youtube and the top comments supported Chelsea. They said, “BEST AD EVERRRRR, this needs to be in actual commercials” and “love this, and love Chelsea’s political stance.” Yet there has also been a negative response to this video. Some people comment that Chelsea is stupid, they are not going to watch her show anymore, and use countless expletives. It is clear that Chelsea Handler makes her views known, and most of her viewers know that she is more liberal. But should Chelsea Handler have made her political views known? Other late-night talk-show hosts may have political opinions, but they rarely talk about it so openly and adamantly.
There used to be a line of separation between celebrities and politicians, but that has all but disappeared. Mitt Romney, for example, has public support from Kid Rock, Gene Simmons of KISS, Clint Eastwood, Chuck Norris and various country singers and actors. Barack Obama enjoys the public support of George Clooney, Sarah Jessica Parker, Eva Longoria, Lady Gaga, Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks and Will Ferrell, among others.
One drawback of celebrities’ sharing their political views is that people who are big fans will tend to follow what the celebrities do because they idolize them. Some people will be less likely to think for themselves; rather they will follow what the celebrity says. A benefit however is that celebrities may expose political issues to a younger crowd who may not have known anything about it before. There are both benefits and consequences to celebrities sharing their political views.
I believe that if celebrities are going to share their opinions, they need to keep in mind the influence they have over American citizens. With the emphasis we place on celebrities, their influence comes through in much more than just matters of entertainment.