- Politics and Social Issues
Hollywood's Influence on American Politics
Does the imbued star-power of inaugural performers add to the legitimacy of a president's tenure in the Oval Office? For weeks there has been a steady stream of news feed updates concerning which Hollywood A-listers may, or may not, be appearing at the upcoming inauguration of President-Elect, Donald J. Trump. With each of the updates it becomes more apparent how focused people are on the celebrity line-up, rather than the actual the passing of the political torch. I keep asking myself why the marquee matters so much. Will foreign heads of state shun Trump because Garth Brooks, Elton John or Celine Dion would not perform in his honor? Political activism also becomes more apparent with every decline, or claim of a decline, Such activism is certainly not new within the entertainment industry, and with each passing decade show business icons work to become more politically influential. Those who were historically delegated as the jesters, the minstrels and the mimes have now become capable of becoming involved in policy making. The American public's obsession with those in the spotlight has allowed for the growth of not only a powerful and profitable propaganda machine, but also an elitist demagoguery throughout worlds of the silver screen, music, television and professional sports.Such power, held by individuals known to frequently show a lack of moral character, over a cult-like following of often problematic people casts a dark shadow on our free and democratically based republic, as self-interest and special interest could likely undermine our national and public interests.
The overall level of celebrity adoration in the U.S. is evidenced by the growing popularity among American's participation in or the viewing of reality television, especially talent competitions. To some degree, even the establishing of personal YouTube channels for public viewing, when once a "home video" for personal memento was sufficient, is indicative of chasing stardom. All indicators point to an attitude of if we aren't trying to become a celebrity, we want to be there when one is made.Further evidence of the extreme affinity for celebrity life is seen in the longevity of television programs focused on the behind the scenes private lives of those already in the public eye; The Osborurnes ran for three years, Gene Simmons' Family Jewels had a seven season run. Millions of viewers for programming with no plot, simply acting as voyeurs, is symptomatic of a society caught up in "celebrity worship". There are varying levels of celebrity worship, from mere recognition of and admiration for a talent, to obsessing over a particular "star" to the point of unhealthy fixation and even needs to identify with their personas via emulation. This level of celebrity worship, where fans become followers, I refer to as "celebrity cultism"- An emotionally unstable fixation with people in the public eye; to the point of looking to one or more famous individuals to form opinions, mores, and norms. The sociopolitical implications of voters afflicted with such fixations easily lends itself to influences, through celebrity activism. Those influences are not necessarily in the best interest of sound economic or social policies for the majority of people. In a nation with a democratic process wide spread political movements involving celebrity leadership and followers is ideal for cultivating an oligarchy with an elite class- their representative celebrity class- who work with these interests to influence the people towards sets of ideologies and policies;and who, more often than not, are not subject to the same ramifications as the average person.
What Experts Say About Celebrity Worship
L. Sheridan, et al (2007) found positive correlations between levels of celebrity worship and addiction, as well as criminality.
Characteristics of people likely to become celebrity fixated
- low self-esteem
- low levels of identity achievement
- lack of positive interpersonal relationships
- suppressed ability to form sincere bonds in love relationships
- increased tendency for depression
- increased levels of anxiety
While celebrity worship is not a causation for the associated attributes, there is strong evidence that it does provide a comfortable retreat for individuals to absorb themselves in rather than dealing with the issues and achieving a happier, more fulfilling life.
Activists, Demagogues and Accountability
When a group of people are not equally subject to consequences they may behave or even be willing to assert an influence that is absent of rational thought and conscience. Celebrity status and/or wealth often provides this elite group a separate reality, which they often take advantage of for their own ends. For example, the current elitist demagoguery has enviro-warriors eagerly awaiting the "scientific expertise" of Leonardo DiCaprio leading the poor souls who follow him in a fight against carbon emissions, from his private jet. Eager to tax you and I for our commute to work, because our money being paid to a far away, international body with no accountability will surely make up for the dire air quality in China. A tax that his eco-Ambassadorship will likely make him exempt from. Further evidence is seen as other popular personalities have seen fit to use the opportunity of public performance or social media to openly call for anything from harassment of fellow Americans to civil unrest- some even for violence- in accordance with a variety of subversive organizations. It’s much less frightening to weather riots in the streets from your gated community or from behind the walls of your estate, and with the presence of 24/7 armed security. People, unfortunately, are duped into believing in the sincerity of those who are essentially professional liars; individuals who have honed their skills in creating a suspension of disbelief and make millions of dollars for their ability to do so. They believe that these celebrities will be standing shoulder-to-shoulder with them fighting the good fight. More unfortunate is public reliance on guidance from people who are likely among the most damaged and deviant, in the nation. For decades it has been no secret that “Hollywood culture” is riddled with every vice from substance abuse and sexual depravity to child abuse. Celebrity escapades are preserved among police and court records as well as leaks from well known insiders.
Spreading the Message and Cashing In
Among Hollywood’s other worst kept secrets is its decades-long involvement in producing political propaganda. The studios and the stars are both for sale and have served both sides; putting forth both pro U.S. military-industrial complex WWII News Reels and Anti-establishment films such as One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Always ready to dupe the public into following whatever ideology the highest bidder is willing to pay for, and in today's world it may not always be the U.S. government signing the checks .For instance,Hollywood's infiltration by China based interests are apparent in films such as Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014), which partners the United States with Communist-lead China (rather than working with NATO allies) to save the world, and Iron Man 3 (2013), which added a scene specifically for its China release of character Tony Stark being saved by two Chinese characters so as to quell "concerns" over the ethnicity of the arch-enemy. Both films even go so far as to use Chinese product placement to appease foreign factions involved in production and distribution. Additional examples of the Hollywood establishment’s use of pop-culture to spread propaganda include NBC’s “Green Week” use of network television to push the eco-agenda throughout all of its programming and the network's pro-progressive series The West Wing, starring Martin Sheen. Coincidentally, Sheen was among the star-studded group engaged in making the recent commercials intended to encourage faithlessness among members of the Electoral College as part of the "Dump Trump" movement. Musical entertainers are not immune to participation in politicization; Dylan, Eminem, Green Day and Beyoncé have all taken part, as have Lee Greenwood and Toby Keith. Political paychecks are not limited to those in Hollywood and Nashville, professional sports teams across the nation have also lined up to collect their fair share of the propaganda pie. The entertainment and sports industries have been softly brainwashing the American public into cooperation with whichever political message they can cash in on.
Professional Sports and Propaganda
- Pentagon Paid Up To $6.8 Million Of Taxpayer Money To Pro Sports Teams For Military Tributes | The H
Paid patriotism contracts to multiple teams withing the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL and MLS revealed in 2016.
The politics of special interest and foreign entities are firmly implanted in entertainment and are kowtowed to, for profit and favor, in their efforts to assert influence over the public. American voters deserve to be treated with respect, presented with unbiased data and spoken to like adults rather than browbeaten into compliance and lulled into acceptance by pop-culture icons. Our republic is based on the ideal of equality, not a caste system in which any member of a privileged, elite group can behave in reprehensible ways and be excused by a differing set of standards. To then have those individuals leading band-wagoners in political movements can only lead to dark outcomes. Only by being aware of the battle for our hearts and minds can we consciously take steps to hopefully avoid the pitfalls of undue influence.