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July 21, 2004


Voter Chic+

Still trying to decide if you're going to vote or not this year? Secretly believe that your vote is meaningless, like Matt Damon did? Think our two-party system is hopelessly limited and unrepresentative of your beliefs? Well, now there's an undeniable reason to do your civic duty: celebrities are telling you to.

No longer content to merely get rich by singing other people's lyrics or kickboxing in front of a blue screen, America's celebrities now want to influence our political lives as well. Puffy has launched his voter drive organization Citizen Change, and says of himself and his celebrity brethren, "Now we are going to make voting cool. We are the true leaders of today." Drew Barrymore suggests in her essay in Jane magazine that before she started voting, she was "complacent, ignorant and helpless." Russell Simmons' Hip-Hop Summit Action Network has registered a lot of voters at recent concerts by Beyoncé, Eminem, Will Smith, Jay-Z, Alicia Keys and Snoop Dogg.

As far as these celebrities are concerned, the most important people on the planet are the teenagers who spend their allowances on buying their records or seeing their movies. Getting these kids registered to vote, at least the ones that are actually 18, is a wonderful thing for American political participation. I am concerned, however, that regular, non-teenage people in middle America who watch Entertainment Tonight from time to time, and see Mariah Carey and Avril Lavigne screaming "Vote or Die!" and how "voting is cool!" just might be turned off by it. There are a lot of young people out there whose votes will be important this election, but there are also a lot of retired typists in Missouri who might not be inspired to exercise their civic freedoms just because Puff Daddy and Jon Bon Jovi tell them to. Perhaps older Americans also need the celebrities they admire to give them some encouragement. John Goodman and Emmylou Harris, are you available? - Amy

I'm not the biggest Puffy/Diddy fan, but I'm supportive of any effort to get voters motivated. Sure, it would be better if young people vote because they want to be politically involved and care about what's happening in the world, but if what it takes is someone to tell them it's "sexy", then fine. I don't believe that the retired typists will choose not to vote because pop stars tell them to - for one thing, they probably aren't watching MTV.

The more alarming thing is that one would hope these stars are leading by example - and as it turns out, Mr. Diddy doesn't vote in local elections, and "Declare Yourself" poster children Xtina and Andre 3000 apparently don't vote at all (via Gawker) - Emily

categories: Celebrities, Politics
posted by amy at 10:28 AM | #