Monday, February 26, 2007

When Celebrities get involved in Politics (1 of 2)

In honour of the recent Oscars and the upcoming star-studded Wrestlemania, I will be highlighting the role of celebrity in punditry.

Celebrities have always had a mixed reception in the world of politics and punditry. Celebrity endorsements can bring exposure to those that may otherwise not get mainstream attention, they bring street credibility and can connect with untapped demographics.

In wrestling, whilst it can often be embarrassing seeing Hollywood and Sporting stars out of there element its all in good fun. Both parties enjoy the benefits of cross promoting, reaching out to new audiences (this year's Wrestlemania will feature Donald Trump). Another benefit of featuring a celebrity is that a storyline or character arc does not have to be fully developed to accommodate them. The audience is already familiar with them and how they are. They do not have to be seasoned in wrestling to be able to understand their motivations, it allows for an easy introduction to welcome new fans to the sport.

In Politics, because of its serious implications (read: its not just in good fun) celebrities don't enjoy the same benefits. Politicians may receive the same benefits that all celebrity endorsements provide but also some negatives unique to the political arena. Politicians associated with celebrities can be painted as being light on substance. These politicians can be seen as elitists as celebrities are superficially viewed as decadent, overpaid and out of touch with the common man (ironic seeing that associating with business lobby groups doesn't connote the same). Celebrities are seen as being of loose morals both in the products they make and the lifestyle they are immersed in.

To make things worse celebrities also risk negative fallout. Celebrities are often stereotyped as being simplistic in their political understanding, nullifying any cache. They risk career hits because they may alienate audiences from their professional work because of their politics external to it.

Celebrities are easy targets for pundits, usually by those in the political Right. Not surprising considering many of the APF Blue team pundits have come from the entertainment industry. But as I will demonstrate both conservative and liberals have used celebrities to their benefit.

>> Continued in Celebrities and Politics Part 2

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