Each presidential election year, a slew of celebrities come out in support of their candidate of choice, drawing attention to their political causes from some, and harsh criticism from others. Without exception, each celebrity political endorsement eventually leads to a single argument, however: why should we care what some actor thinks?
Despite the inherent logic to that argument, it’s clear that, in the modern world, lots of people care what celebrities think. Reality television, ironic as the name might be, exists almost entirely as a means for Americans to get a peek behind the curtain, and learn more about some of the faces we’ve been watching on TV and in movies: “Celebrity Rehab,” “Dancing with the Stars,” “The Apprentice”… all just a thin veneer over an age-old product: celebrity.
The problem with how much influence we allow our stars to exercise over the public, of course, is that celebrities are fallible human beings just like the rest of us. In fact, the bubble of constant approval most famous people find themselves living inside may even make them more susceptible to the influence of powerful foreign leaders (or religious ones, for that matter). Men like Vladimir Putin, for instance, with an extensive career in Russia’s FSB (successor to the KGB), are well suited to manipulating the air of importance an audience with him can provide, in order to sell a celebrity on what an association with him could offer in terms of legitimacy.
Dennis Rodman, as a great example, saw his memory as the weirdest NBA player of all time and occasional Van Dam sidekick dwindling… but has enjoyed a resurgence in name recognition and apparent moral superiority since becoming BFF’s with North Korean despot, Kim Jong Un. For many celebrities, these relationships with foreign leaders offer them the opportunity to step back into the spotlight, to be taken seriously for once… but most of all, these relationships come with money, either directly, or through endorsements.