There is no hiding the fact that celebrities have been endorsing both campaigns this election season.
With the likes of Scarlett Johansson and Clint Eastwood speaking at the Democratic and Republican National Conventions respectively, celebrities seem to be endorsing candidates more publicly than ever before.
Historically, celebrities and public figures have routinely endorsed candidates for president. In the 2008 election, Republican presidential nominee John McCain had support from the likes of Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Popular television programs such as “Saturday Night Live” and “The Late Show” also began to run content addressing the 2008 campaign in the months before the election.
Additionally, shows that thrive on political punditry, such as “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report,” have soared in ratings over the past five years, particularly among men aged between 18 and 49, according to Nielsen Media Research.
Conor Hyder said he routinely watches both “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report” and feels both shows are important when it comes to helping voters understanding the political scene.
“Both of the shows are humorous, and so they help to make some of the smaller issues easier to understand through this comedy,” Hayder (freshman-engineering) said. “By magnifying small parts of each candidate, they make them both that much easier to comprehend, and this allows voters to make more informed decisions.”
Yet Lilly List said she believes the shows can sometimes produce biased points of view.
“I think these shows have a tendency to sway voters opinions in a biased sort of way,” List (freshmen-mining engineering) said. “Even if people can get the gist of what is going on with the election by watching these shows, they still end up with [Stewart and Colberts’] opinions on it.”
Like it or hate it, shows such as these, and the celebrities who frequent them, are continuing to assert their personal opinions on this year’s election.
However, Drew McGehrin, president of the Penn Sate College Democrats feels there is nothing wrong with it.
“I think that, fundamentally, using social status to spark people’s interest in politics is a positive thing,” McGehrin said. “And anything they are able to do to get people to the polls in November is a plus for both campaigns.”
In terms of the fairness of utilizing celebrity fame to win voter support in the election, McGehrin feels it is no less reasonable than the idea which allows corporations to act as people, so that they are able to donate millions of dollars into the campaign.
But Bill McDonnell (freshman-engineering) said he thinks celebrity endorsements are detrimental to the campaign since they cause people to focus more on who is doing the talking, instead of who they are doing the talking about.
“It is just not productive to have celebrities influence politics in our society,” McDonnell said. “For instance, I have a weakness for Keira Knightly. If she were to come out and tell me to vote for Romney, I’m going to do that.”
Despite all this, there are still many who remain undaunted by the surge of celebrity in the 2012 election.
Leah Aakjar (sophomore-biology) said though celebrities do have the power to sway people who might not be educated when it comes to politics, for her, they aren’t so much as a distraction.
“I’m not really big into celebrities,” Aakjar said, “so even if they’re speaking out on political issues, I don’t really pay much attention.”
Matt Gropp (junior-meteorology) feels similarly.
“I can understand how some people might change their opinion when celebrities support certain candidates, just because of their fascination with these people,” Gropp said. “But I do not find myself particularly influenced by them.”
Anthony Christina, president of the Pennsylvania Federation of College Republicans, is of the same mind as Aakjar and Gropp, and said he believes most young people will look beyond the celebrity endorsements of this election once November comes around.
“I think celebrities can certainly influence decisions,” Christina said. “But I think at the end of the day, college students are smart enough to make up their own minds and decide who they want to be next president.”