The news has been ecstatically promoting Taylor Swift’s announcement that she has ‘officially endorsed the Democrats’ and that she will no longer remain ‘apolitical’ in her public life. Good for her I guess, with her $300 million plus platform – that’s just what the ‘liberal’ side of politics needs to convince the average person they are on their side. Almost every time a celebrity backs (or indeed, becomes in the case of Reagan and Trump) a POTUS, or a party in general, it is about publicity and public perception.
It is interesting to see the contrast between America and the rest of the world when it comes to celebrity endorsement. The New York Times, the Guardian, and the Sydney Morning Herald all had articles praising the pop icon’s stance, but of the three it was only the US-based NYT that this non-story got popular support from its readers. In the UK and Australia, people just did not care, or in some cases pointed out why celebrity endorsements are not beneficial. Maybe if the Democrats had nominated a celebrity rather than seeking just their support they could have beaten Trump in 2016.
The main issue with celebrity endorsements is that they are rarely ever about policy, or if they are it is confined to safe topics like LGBT+ rights or the Me Too movement. Maybe it’s too much to assume, but I doubt the likes of Swift or Kanye (the latter had lunch with the President today) have the capacity to hold their own in a serious debate on global issues. No, rather than say academics or intellectuals talking about policy, the media and the government use celebrities to prop up their failing national and global image. The ‘liberals’ get to fawn all over their beloved idols as they support war criminals like Hillary, and Trump supporters get to nod all sophisticated-like as they prove they’re not racist by quoting Kanye’s historically inaccurate statements on slavery (while also supporting major war crimes committed by even more violent Republican administrations).
In the 2016 election, Clinton got so many celebrity endorsements it was easy to lose track. A video was even made where a large gathering of celebrities rather patronisingly told people to vote against Trump for really no other reason than ‘please, just don’t vote Trump’. While he did appear in said video, Mark Ruffalo is one of the few who I noticed didn’t immediately jump on the Clinton bandwagon. He did a video five months earlier with just him and Senator Bernie Sanders that talked a bit about Sanders’ past, but also about policy that Sanders had pushed through. There was no patronising repetition, no attacks or even mentions about rival candidates, it was just a conversation between them about their views.
Mark’s endorsement of Sanders wasn’t about famous people giving false credibility to corrupt candidates like Trump and Clinton. His status as an actor added nothing to the video – it was all about what they could do for the betterment of their country. So it’s not that well to do stars can’t express their political views, or that just because they are entertainers they can’t be well informed. The difference is the motive – is it policy based, or is it just a public image thing. Robert de Niro saying ‘Fuck Trump’ in a massive flashy building filled with Hollywood elites does little, other than to further prove America’s politics is nothing but a drama show with horrific real life consequences.
After Swift announced her endorsement, over 200,000 people and counting have registered to vote. Americans see this as a positive. The rest of the world is saying where the hell were those people two years ago, and why does it take a pop singer whose only political merits are opposing Trump to get them off their apathetic asses. God forbid Australia ever relies on say the latest Bachelor contestant to tell them they should vote. If you are not already enrolled to vote, do so (link below), and if you don’t vote or simply donkey vote then either change that attitude or you are part of the problem. Politics is not some shitty reality TV show on Channel 10, it is something you need to pay attention to and participate in.
The United Nations gives us little over a decade to handle rising temperatures by reducing emissions and transitioning to renewables. Our current government released a report that our emissions have actually risen, conveniently withheld for some time and quietly mentioned while the nation watched football. You have the power to change this – do it.