4.10: Celebrities' Influence on Politics

Celebrities have considerable influence in today's media-dominated environment. Celebrities set trends in fashion, food, language, and lifestyles among other things, and people follow their leads.

Many youngsters, both pre-teens and teens, want to become famous when they grow up, defining fame as celebrity status. A research study showed that kids ages 6 to 17 are more likely to want to become a YouTube star, blogger, or vlogger than a doctor, nurse, athlete, teacher, or lawyer (Daily Mail, 2017).

So do celebrities impact how young people think about politics, political figures, or public policy debates?

During elections, celebrities might endorse a political candidate or issue in hopes that their fans will follow in their footsteps. Oprah Winfrey's endorsement of Barack Obama for President in 2008 has been cited as the most impactful celebrity endorsement in history (U.S. Election: What Impact Do Celebrity Endorsements Really Have? The Conversation, October 4, 2016).

Do celebrity endorsements make a real difference for voters? Researchers are undecided. In 2018, 65,000 people registered to vote in Tennessee after Taylor Swift (who had 180 million followers on Instagram) endorsed two Democratic Congressional candidates - one candidate won and the other lost. Swift's endorsement was followed by more than 212,000 new voter registrations across the country, mostly among those in the 18 to 24 age group. Perhaps what celebrities say has more impact on younger voters?

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Can you think of some examples of celebrities who have shared their political views or endorsements on social media? Who are these celebrities? In what ways did they influence politics?

In these activities, you will analyze media endorsements by celebrities, and then develop a request (or pitch) to convince a celebrity to endorse your candidate for President in the next election.

Activity 1: Analyze Celebrity Endorsements in the Media

Designing for Learning: Student-Created Activity Example

Celebrities in the News by Kathleen Boulton & Viviana Sebastiano

Activity 2: Request a Celebrity Endorsement for a Presidential Candidate

Additional Resources

Connecting to the eBook

Building Democracy for All: Who Do You Think Are the Most Famous Americans?

Connecting to the Standards