Hollywood, Politically Speaking…

Celebrities often have to be extremely careful of what they say, what they do, and how they react when interacting with the public. The slightest well-meaning act of kindness or opinionated compliment can be easily blown out of proportion by the public eye, who is constantly watching their every move and quick to scrutinize their analysis. The voice of a celebrity is so powerfully influential on the public that it’s no wonder why marketing companies scramble like mad to get a high-prolific celebrity to endorse a specific product. The market place seems to be a common place for opinionated endorsements by celebrities, but what about when it comes to politics? Should there be a thin line that separates Hollywood and “Washington”? Celebrities such as Shirley Temple, Ronald Reagan, Clint Eastwood, and Arnold Schwarzenegger have all tested this hypothesis by crossing over that thin line, making major contributions to society beyond the entertainment level of the silver screen.

Shirley Temple, America’s favorite dimpled-faced child star in the 1930’s, was appointed as a United States delegate to the 24th United Nations General Assembly in 1969 by President Richard Nixon, appointed as the United States Ambassador to Ghana by President Gerald R. Ford, appointed as the first female “Chief of Protocol of the United States” in 1976, and later appointed as the U.S. Ambassador to Czechoslovakia by President George H. W. Bush. She was in charge of all State Department ceremonies, including coordinating the inauguration ceremonial protocols for President Jimmy Carter.

Ronald W. Reagan, and American radio, film, and television star, was inaugurated as the 40th President of the United States in 1981, serving two consecutive terms. Prior to his presidential victory, he served as California’s 33rd governor. During his first term, President Reagan was best known for his “Reaganomics” policy, which included reducing taxes, government spending, and inflation all in an effort to help boost the economy and control the money supply. During his second term, he focused primarily on foreign matters, including putting an end to the Cold War.

American director, producer, and former television and film actor Clint Eastwood entered the world of politics when he endorsed President Richard Nixon’s presidential campaigns both in 1968 and 1972. Labeling himself as a “liberal on civil rights”, his numerous endorsements influenced remarkable changes within the most prominent movements during that era such as the Equal Rights Amendment for women, pro-choice abortion, and same-sex marriages. In 1986, he was elected as mayor of his hometown, Carmel-by-the-Sea in California.

Eastwood’s impressive political views were supported by yet another Hollywood film actor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, who appointed Eastwood to the California Film Commission after he himself became elected as the 38th Governor of the state of California in 2003. Nicknamed “The Governator”, Republican Governor Schwarzenegger expressed his political views quite differently than most other Hollywood celebrities of whom were reputed as having liberal or democratic stances on political issues. The Governor spent a majority of his time focusing on global-warming issues, and the other part of his time (as he called it) “behaving badly.” In 2010, a group called the “Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington” considered Schwarzenegger to be one of 11 “worst governors” in the U.S.

Conclusively, Hollywood has proved that it can have a positive influence on the political aspect of society. However, the effectiveness of this influence does not solely rely on the strength of that popular voice that speaks; it’s moreover how the weight of that political power is utilized is what gives the celebrity their influence.

©2013 Learus Ohnine

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