Celebrities And Politics: Double-Dipping Careers
Candidates are using a variety of outlets to publicize their political platform, garner support, and encourage legal Americans to exercise their right to vote.
Young adults, aged 18-30, are the focal point of these media campaigns.
Thirty independent youth-serving organizations – such as Rock the Vote, Head Count, Campus Progress, and the League of Young Voters – have collaborated to launch “Vote Again 2010.”
The campaign was created to encourage young people to vote in the midterm elections, thus increasing the turnout at the polls.
The way this particular campaign has chosen to target Generation Y is through social media websites like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, and by employing pop-culture icons as spokespeople.
To encourage involvement, Vote Again 2010 created a video contest for young adults to express why they believe their generation should vote.
To advertise the competition, the campaign brought in three influential YouTube celebrities – Brittani Taylor (one of the 50 most subscribed people), Tay Zonday (artist of one of the most top watched videos), and Jason Pollock (one of the most influential people on Twitter).
Videos needed to address why young people should vote and how they intended on inspiring participation in democracy.
Rapper John Forté appeared in an advertisement to publicize the competition.
Celebrity appearances in advertisements have been a popular tool used by the various organizations within the greater Vote Again 2010 coalition.
Campus Progress, one of the youth-serving groups, submitted a video to the competition, in which Justin Bieber was used to court voters.
The video makes an appeal to young voters while poking fun at the teenage pop star. The message of this particular video is to encourage young adults to vote for those who can’t – like Justin Bieber.
The actors in the segment support this notion by employing statements that appeal to emotion, “whomever we elect in the 2010 midterm elections will impact his future, and ours.”
Another submission, created by first time voters involved in Vote Again 2010, was inspired by Lady Gaga’s political activism.
In the video, the two students call on young people to register to vote or to vote again, because in the words of Lady Gaga, “that’s when the change happens.”
Rock The Vote is perhaps the most venerated of the youth-serving organizations. The group was founded in 1990 in response to threats on personal freedoms and artistic expression.
Today, the organization is positioned at the convergence of young people, politics, and popular culture.
The organization partners with celebrities who support and believe in its purpose; over 100 artists work with Rock the Vote to grab the attention of young people and encourage them to advocate for issues that concern them.
Rock the Vote has had particular success in voter registration efforts.
On October 19, 2010, Rock the Vote launched a public service announcement (PSA) featuring celebrities like: Joaquin Phoenix, Kate Walsh, Dane Cook, David Banner, Nick Cannon, Casey Affleck, Wayne Brady, JoJo, and Jesse McCartney to encourage young people to “Vote Fearlessly” on Nov. 2.
The “Vote Fearlessly” campaign detailed ways young adults could get involved in the midterm elections, from field events to registering to vote.
The PSA aired on networks like CBS and on Hulu.com. Perez Hilton and Nas recorded additional PSA’s and many celebrities, including Maroon 5, Pink, and OK Go helped “Tweet the Vote.”
Rapper Jay-Z appeared in a public service announcement for Head Count, another organization involved in Vote Again 2010, encouraging people to vote in the midterm elections.
The PSA aired on October 12 as an exclusive for Rolling Stone, but was picked up by other outlets, including CBS.
The 30-second announcement was recorded during Jay-Z’s set at Bonnaroo, and emphasized the impact young people have, “our generation changed the world, we changed the world! So it just goes to show anything is possible, fight for what is right. Fight for what you believe in,” he said.
Jay-Z is one of 50 artists working with Head Count to promote youth participation in politics and government. John Mayer, Tom Petty, MGMT, Dave Matthews Band, Passion Pit, and Jack Johnson are among the other performers who put on events for the organization.
The organization registered more than 100,000 voters in 2008, a record in American history. This year, more than 10,000 voters have signed up. Jay-Z’s announcement calls on that same group to vote this year.
Hollywood is also gearing up for the midterm elections. CNN recently aired a segment that highlighted the ways celebrities are vocalizing their political leanings.
Stars have been getting political, though most have focused on specific issues rather than specific campaigns.
Lady Gaga has been in the news lately in opposition of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” a policy that bans gays from serving openly in the military.
Alec Baldwin recently released a video defending gay marriage in New York.
George Clooney ventured to Capitol Hill earlier this month with a Republican senator to discuss U.S. involvement in Sudan, urging the international community to prevent violence in the country.
Many liberals are resorting to restrained measures to show support for their party; Steven Spielberg, Warren Beatty, and Annette Bening have all attended fundraisers for Democratic candidates.
Meanwhile, celebrity Conservatives like Jon Voight, Jeanine Turner, and Pat Boone, are getting involved in political campaigns.
In September, Pat Boone hosted a Tea Party rally in Beverly Hills.
Some consider the election in Hollywood to be far from political, believing celebrities are invested in candidates for ideological reasons rather than for what will positively affect the business.
The turn out at the polls on Nov. 2 will determine whether celebrity involvement in campaign efforts has made a difference in influencing young voters.
Until then, young people can appreciate the passion and dedication of these celebrities and decide to act on the message being delivered.