Celebrity power and Politics

Jay Z, Katy Perry, Beyoncé, Miley Cyrus. The combination of these celebs gives you the ultimate star power which equates to a larger fan base, and a larger fan base equates to more influence, right? Not really. Not all the time.

Upon reading the above, you might have very well guessed that I am addressing the loss of Democrat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 United States elections. Let’s move from the US to another part of the world, to an important state in India and more importantly, where I’m from, Tamil Nadu. Ironically, politics in Tamil Nadu has many similarities with the conduct of politics in the US. The current political status in TN (Tamil Nadu) is quite turbulent, where the ruling party (AIADMK) remains divided as I write this post, quite similar to the Republican Party. The existing state of political affairs of TN are not a concern to this post, rather, we need to travel back in time to 2010 when one of the most loved and prominent celebrities, a comedian actor by the name of Vadivelu, campaigned for one of the major parties in TN, the DMK. The Tamil people loved Vadivelu for his brilliant one-liners and applaudable acting. However, the people’s affection for Vadivelu failed to perform, and DMK faced a severe defeat to AIADMK (the opposition party) in the 2010 elections.

It would be quite irrational to state that celebrities have no sort of influence when it comes to politics, but the extent to which they are influential could be up for debate. I personally believe that celebs are unlikely to affect the political waves to a large extent. The result of political events is paramount to each and every human being in that respective territory, and the average taxpayer does not want to be told who to vote for from some millionaire who regularly ends up in the daily gossip column. Also, on a few occasions, it can be said that celebrities showering their support for a political candidate may show the candidate’s weakness. ‘Can’t he/she stand for herself?’  would be the imposed question. The fact that Trump declared that he needed no celebs to win the elections might have made him more appealing to the general public. Perhaps that was one of the many factors that showed the justification for many swing voters to then affiliate to Donald Trump in the US elections.

The recent immigration ban received sharp criticism from various celebrities, with many of them voicing out their anti-immigration-ban opinions in award ceremonies. However, these opinions were categorised by many as ‘just another person whining about Trump’ (Notable mention: Piers Morgan told actors to sit the fuck down about politics in The Real Time with Bill Maher), and the star-power had no major play. In fact, people who are inclined to Trump started hating them more.

One could easily argue against my stand with the emergence of Ronald Reagen and Donald Trump, who were once celebrities (Trump still is, though). It should be noted that these former celebs did not become leaders of the free world simply because of their star power, but due to various other factors. Trump for instance, might have emerged as President due to his America-first and other vetting policies. Reagen on the other hand, due to his political realignment in the US in favour of conservative domestic and foreign policies.

All this makes us question about how influential celebrities are when it comes to politics. Celebrities might have been very influential with your clothing line or the diet plan you have or even the kind of dog you want to adopt, but politics is a different field. It has become increasingly evident with recent events that celebrities are not so effective with politics.

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