How celebrities are shaping politics

Aoibhín Meghen

Stormzy has pledged his support for Labour Party Leader, Jeremy Corbyn as the UK general election fast approaches, but should musicians and other celebrities be promoting election candidates?

The British rapper, singer and songwriter endorsed Corbyn in an Instagram post on November 25th, in which he encouraged people to register to vote and said Corbyn was “the first man in a position of power who is committed to giving the power back to the people.”

“I think Boris Johnson is a sinister man,” Stormzy went on to say. The rapper emphasised that this statement was all his own views and that he did not care if people love of hated them.

“I think it’s important that we use our vote to make sure that the person who runs our country for the next 4 years is someone committed to doing what is right.”

But should musicians and other celebrities be using their platforms and status to endorse political views?

Throughout the 2016 American presidential race, many celebrities advertised their voting choice across social media and at the moment as November 2020 fast approaches celebrities like Ariana Grande are endorsing the upcoming presidential candidates.

Sally Dobie is from the UK and will be voting in the general election this week. She says that she wouldn’t be swayed by a celebrity endorsement but is very glad that influential figures are expressing their opinion. 

“Not so much now but five years ago young people hardly voted, maybe their favourite celebrity promoting it might be a positive thing,” said Dobie.

There is however a lot of risk in these celebrity endorsements as some of the people they would influence to vote may not know the policies they are voting for. 

Fans and even just the general public put a lot of trust in celebrities, particularly young people. Young people are the most open to celebrity influence as many of them may be new to voting and wont have prior knowledge into candidates. This may cause them to vote blindly as they trust the people that they follow.

Musicians and artists engaging with politics is not a new phenomenon. Music has played a huge part in politics or political agendas throughout history.  

The Beatles and many other bands often used their music in a very politically charged way. Even in Ireland bands like The Cranberries sang about the war Northern Ireland and Sinead O’Connor spoke out about the Catholic Church. 

However the difference between musicians of the past and modern artists is that in the past, none of them had the personal and influential reach of social media.

Through social media platforms artists are less nuanced about expressing their political views and also celebrity influencers, actors, and almost anyone with an Instagram account can endorse their political views with a massive audience.

Despite these issues, celebrities do have the right idea in encouraging their fans to register to vote. 

In the last few years there has been a huge push on social media for individuals to register themselves to vote and this started in 2016 when celebrities spoke out in mass before the US election.

However, it is important that people always do their own research into candidates as well as maybe taking advice or influence from a celebrity. Making an informed choice is the most important thing.

Aoibhín Meghen 

Image Credit: Press Association