Celebrities have become increasingly involved in the political sphere in the last decade and made an effort to influence their fans to vote, sign petitions and take action.
The risk with this is, instead of working with representative government as it was built to be and staying informed about their local politics, the fanbases just follow celebrities, said Jacob Frier, a senior in finance and politics.
It makes sense that celebrities are becoming more politically active now that we currently have a reality TV star in the Oval Office. Kim Kardashian and her sister Kourtney have also publicly supported certain legislation and made personal visits to the White House and Capitol Hill.
More recently, famous YouTuber David Dobrik’s Tesla Model 3 giveaway was speculated to be one of the greatest U.S. voter drives ever, according to Forbes. Dobrik is known for giving away Teslas to his Instagram and TikTok followers who repost and tag his photos, and this giveaway was a little different. Dobrik used HeadCount, an unbiased organization dedicated to getting voters registered to check to ensure his fans were registered. Any person who was registered, tagged a friend and reposted his photo had a chance to win.
Despite not being a citizen and a DACA recipient here in the U.S., his influence is hard to deny. How much power do celebrities actually yield? Are their efforts to change politics genuinely motivated or a result of performative pandering to their target audience?
“I do believe that celebrities have an inflated image of their power and that they believe they can influence them (fans),” Frier said.
Kanye West has been known to make bold statements, political or otherwise. He famously accused George Bush of not caring about Black people in 2005, and has since then endorsed President Donald Trump. In July 2020, he retracted those statements and declared his own 2020 presidential campaign.
Although we currently have a former reality TV star in the White House, are celebrities, regardless of political affiliation, representative of the majority of U.S. voters?
“I think some people will go in there not happy with either of the two main party candidates and will vote Kanye, for a kind of f- you to the system if you will,” said Chuck Klapatauskas, a junior in mechanical engineering.
Many people were ecstatic to see Alice Johnson, a woman incarcerated on nonviolent drug charges, be pardoned by Trump in 2019. The pardon came on behalf of Kim Kardashian, who asked Trump to discuss prison reform with her.
“I think most people should question how much influence celebrities have to make that decision, and why that decision has to be made in the first place,” Klapatauskas said. "If there is proper reform, that is never needed in the first place so I think that is the inherent root of the problem.”
The current political activism we are seeing from our favorite entertainers could potentially be indicative of an issue with our government.
Regardless of the influence, or lack thereof, that celebrities have on our politics and government, it's important to recognize the power you personally have to make changes by calling your local representatives and making informed decisions when it comes to casting your vote.