During the past few months, everyone from Kylie Jenner to Tyler, the Creator has been urging their fans to vote ahead of the 2020 presidential election. This wave of political activism comes as celebrities utilize their platforms more efficiently.
Many young people are unmotivated to involve themselves in politics, as only 46.1 percent of 18-29 year-olds voted in the 2016 presidential election. Celebrities taking to social media to urge young voters comes with mixed levels of success, but having a background in politics make celebrities seem more trustworthy and honest. Depending on their involvement and past, it can lead to a difference in voter turnout.
The relationship between celebrities and their platforms is constantly under scrutiny by the public. There's an expectation that they must always utilize their platform for the greater good of humanity.
Bad publicity tends to attract more viewers, but positive publicity is seen as more favorable by most people. While urging their fans to vote is not an inherently bad act, it can come across as silly considering the background and education of the person.
Celebrity endorsements consist of celebrities putting support behind their favorite candidate and hoping their fans follow their lead. This comes with mixed amounts of success, and politicians can become more focused on humiliating celebrities instead of serving their state.
This lack of maturity highlights the true colors of political figures and shows a shift in priorities for most politicians. It feels very disheartening to see congressmen insult people instead of focusing on the job they were voted into.
Celebrities typically utilize social media to promote awareness of voting deadlines in their followers’ states. While these posts do promote awareness ahead of the political campaign, it feels very disingenuous for people who have never posted about politics to suddenly urge their followers to vote.
This type of hive-mind mentality naturally occurs when celebrities all promote the same content down to their followers. It can feel very nauseating to witness. Celebrity posts can lead to a rise in voter registration forms, but they usually do not lead people to change their minds about their political affiliation.
Celebrities endorsing political candidates create good publicity for celebrities but can come off as very disingenuous if they were not previously into politics. Having a background in politics makes you more credible and creates more meaning in their endorsement.
Frank Ocean famously gave away merch to his followers who voted in certain cities ahead of the 2018 midterm elections. Taylor Swift endorsed Tennessee Democratic candidate Phil Bredesen, which marked her first public endorsement of a political figure. While Tennessee is a historically Republican state, her endorsement led to a rise in voter registrations across the country.
Celebrities who are more involved in politics and activism hold a greater sense of credibility in who they endorse.
Oprah Winfrey endorsing a political candidate holds more weight than Jenner endorsing a political candidate because Winfrey has been involved in politics and civil rights for most of her adult life. The person delivering the message holds more power than the message itself.
The expectation for all celebrities to be publicly involved in politics is more prominent as the political spectrum across the United States becomes more polarized and decisive. People now more than ever look for guidance in figures that are trustworthy and have been involved in politics.