Monday, May 5, 2008


Celebrity achieved in any arena of entertainment provides personalities with a rare measure of potential. Endorsements of products, from the only golf ball that can possibly allow draining of thirty foot puts, to a perfume that will make you feel appealing, have moved billions of us to part with cash. Notoriety sells. When the celebrity’s endorsement is applied to the political realm, vast numbers don’t simply part with cash, they relinquish the power that they have been privileged with as participants in a democratic society.

Researchers claim that polls taken suggest celebrities have little impact on voter decisions. Their questions actually ask inconceivable ego-challenging questions such as, “Did this endorsement affect your decision?” Anyone who paid for this kind of research should sue for refunds. The abundance of denial that celebrity endorsements are effective is a rejection of reality. For some reason society attributes and instills a value to the sentiments of those with prominence, then accepts their decisions for themselves.

When an actor steps out in public and professes warm endearments for a political candidate, is there an assumption that he or she has done due diligence? Is there an assumption that the celebrity knows the candidate intimately? Is there a sense of intimacy that remains long after the cramps from the gallon of popcorn have abated, simply because we’ve watched an individual play a role on the big screen? Why do we have so much confidence that the views of someone we’ve never met are better than our own? We don’t fully know the value systems of friends, much less those of individuals who entertain us.

Bruce Springsteen sells Obama with suggestions that the candidate speaks to the America he’s envisioned in his music, and crowds of fans, including the youngest and baby boomers, respond with their feet at the voting booth. It was not so long ago that the media had declared the Presidential race a competition between Rudy Giuliani and Hillary Clinton. Oprah Winfrey announced her endorsement of Obama, and the political landscape changed overnight. On one side, John McCain became the lone Republican star. On the Democratic side, however, a candidate was not only lifted out of obscurity, he was handed millions of supporters and votes, as well as more funds than any other candidate in history, enough to make him the leading contender for the White House.

This Presidential election, as so many since Al Jolson’s endorsement of Warren Harding, has been dramatically affected by Hollywood’s public preoccupation with politics. Strangely, celebrities don’t even need to inculcate. A single declaration is enough. With Tom Hanks very publicly using the internet to announce his desire to see Obama in the White House, rather than making his desires felt quietly and anonymously in the voting booth, this election continues to be influenced by celebrities. Celebrities have every right to support anyone they choose, and have the right to tell the world, however, too many voters continue to be influenced and in doing so, they continue to surrender their power. The Presidency is not another golf ball or exotic perfume. The decision on who fills the office should be made with studious consideration and insight. It should not be surrendered in any form.


  1. Yet instead we hear and see whimpers of "boring" or "entertainment".

    We're no longer capable for our own governance.

  2. Yet instead we hear and see whimpers of "boring" or "entertainment".

    We're no longer capable for our own governance.