Celebrity Activists in Contemporary Society

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Celebrity Activists in Contemporary Society

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According to the book Celebrity Politics, approximately 10 percent of Americans get national political news from nightly entertainment shows such as the Tonight Show. For Americans under 30, the number is nearly five times as many (Orman and West 100). Citizens are looking to be entertained rather than simply educated by the nightly news. As David Schultz aptly put it, “ The new media cover politics, but only politics as it entertains, in part, because the audience the new media attract is a less politically interested audience than traditional news audiences” (20). The fact is that this American audience is less interested in hard news and more interested in entertainment, which has made celebrities effective activists and endorsers of aid organizations in this increasingly celebrity-obsessed society.

Americans “expect, for example, that political campaigns for President will be replete with show biz” (Combs 124). It is no longer good enough for politicians to be defined by their stances on issues, and by the support of different political organizations. Politicians have to be able to provide the citizens with a show, something that will keep them curious and entertained; they need, in fact, celebrity power. Because of this, in order to raise awareness and support for their causes, advocacy organizations have also tapped into the celebrity craze.

One area in which celebrities have become extremely involved is that of political campaigns. Politicians want celebrity endorsements in order to become more visible and more popular with different age groups. One survey shows that forty percent of 18 to 24 year olds were influenced by celebrities’...

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... Despite the popularity of celebrity politics, the political process is not exclusively relegated to celebrities, and no one is forced to agree with an endorser’s opinion.

Perhaps this, then, is the real issue. Clearly, from the standpoint of the advocacy organizations themselves, celebrities are beneficial as activists in today’s culture. They are the perfect spokespeople to maneuver through such an entertainment-driven society and political arena. They raise money and awareness that many aid organizations would not otherwise receive. This research has shown that celebrities have an effect on voter turnout, and also on the way citizens vote. The problem is no longer determining whether celebrities are effective activists. Research now must be done to determine the repercussions of such a celebrity-driven culture on politics, humanitarian aid, and the world.
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