The Hollywood Party

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“Do young adults listen to and trust the information they receive from celebrities? Much research has been done to investigate the extent to which celebrities influence first-time voters as well as whether celebrity activism and endorsements are effective in garnering the youth vote.” -Scott Buron

Oprah Winfrey, Beyonce Knowles, and Jimmy Fallon all hold spots on the Forbes “100 Most Powerful Celebrities” list.  Many of these celebrities use their power and fame to reach out to the poor, the needy, and to help the underdogs in our society; but I believe they cross a line when openly discussing their political views.  So, what’s the big deal?  Why shouldn’t these Hollywood stars be able to use their fame to endorse their favorite political party?

In 2007, Oprah Winfrey famously announced on her wildly popular TV show that she supported 2008 presidential candidate Barack Obama. This started a trend, an era, and a fashion statement of wearing your favorite political candidate on your sleeve, sometimes literally.  Gradually, more and more of Hollywood’s A-Listers have loudly, proudly, fashionably, and musically shared their political opinion with the public.

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This issue stems from a bigger problem of our society and its fascination with Hollywood’s royals.  Starting from a young age, teens look up to their favorite actors, singers, and comedians and try to mimic their style, we listen to what they have to say, and some even follow what they do.  With this kind of power and influence in their hands, celebrities have started to take advantage of award shows, interviews, and their style choices to influence others in their political views.

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During the 2013 American Music Awards, Macklemore used the time allotted for his acceptance speech to discuss the Trayvon Martin case and his blunt opinions towards inequality in our country.  As an American citizen, Macklemore has the freedom of speech, but I also believe there is a time and a place for politics and a Sunday night award show is neither the time nor the place.  Likewise, celebrities such as Gwenyth Paltrow, Tim McGraw and Jay-Z have used their time on talk shows such as Late Night With Jimmy Fallon and the Jay Leno Show to discuss their strong political beliefs. 

The most interesting, and to me, puzzling example of celebrities using their fame to promote politicians is through their style.  During the 2008 presidential election, Beyonce Knowles wore a simple Barack Obama t-shirt in public and was photographed by paparazzi wearing the t-shirt.  Within 3 days the same t-shirt was sold out in stores and online.  While this may happen with ‘ordinary clothes’ this is the first time sporting a presidential t-shirt has become a fashion statement.

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People are already so fascinated by the people in Hollywood and will go to extraordinary lengths to imitate their favorite stars.  Many celebrities have realized this and taken advantage of this power to persuade fans into their same political beliefs.  Ideally, celebrities should keep their political beliefs to themselves and allow the politicians do the campaigning and advertising.  The world of red carpets and paparazzi should not intersect with the world of elephants and donkeys.  Until the day celebrities become less of an influence, they should be able to say what they would like about political candidates but kept it to a minimum and only during appropriate times.

 

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