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Celebrities and Networked Meaning

Celebrities and Networked Meaning: Are Celebrities necessary in the information Eco-system? Why? How? What role do they play in key humanitarian and animal rights issues? Can celebrities influence the conversation about race, global warming and gender equality?

For our project we are looking into celebrities influence and the role that they play in our society today. However, we are not going to be looking at their necessity within the information eco-system but rather the actual influence they have within the information eco-system regarding more complex societal issues, such as politics and ideology. We will be using the 2016 Presidential election as our case study and will be analyzing the actual influence of celebrities over the results of the election and then we will examine why those results were so surprising to a large portion of the nation.

The society we live in today is one dominated by celebrity culture. Celebrities today play a large role in modern culture and consumption patterns, serving as a dictator of taste, style and public opinion. With their endorsement or support they can bring attention and credibility to the conversations surrounding national issues and influence the public in ways that no one else can.

However, upon further research it has become clear that celebrities reach does not necessarily extend into the ideological realm of life. To clarify, we mean to say that celebrities influence in conversations surrounding race, global warming and gender equality may not be as strong as one would assume. As stated above, we will be using the most recent Presidential election between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump as our prime case study in analyzing this claim. For those who actively followed the nerve racking campaigns of both candidates, it seemed that Clinton had far more support from celebrities and influencers. However, despite this all of the support she had it didn’t have the impact we all assumed, which brings into question how much influence these celebrities actually have. As you can see below, the support for Hillary was staggering in comparison to Trump.

Beyoncé and Jay Z

Beyoncé and Jay Z headlined a concert for

Beyoncé and Jay Z headlined a concert for Clinton the weekend before the Nov. 8 election. “I want my daughter to grow up seeing a women lead our country and knowing that her possibilities are limitless,” Beyoncé said at the concert.

“He cannot be my president,” Jay Z said of Republican Donald Trump. “He cannot be our president. Once you divide us, you weaken us. We are stronger together.”

Madonna

Madonna showed her support for Hillary Clinton by

Madonna showed her support for Hillary Clinton by hosting her own surprise rally in Washington Square Park. The singer put on a concert the night before Election Day to urge fans to vote.

“Join me with the first president to welcome in our first female president,” Madonna wrote on her Instagram before the event.

 Connie Britton

“I heard Hillary speak yesterday and was absolutely blown away by her passion, intelligence, depth of experience and profound competence. And then I got to sit down and talk with her, and felt her humanity as a mother and working woman, and, most importantly, a woman who is genuinely dedicated to the ideals and values of the people of this country.

“Please. Let’s focus. And get back to those ideals. Because we are all so fortunate to live in the United States and with that comes a responsibility. Take this election seriously. Get the facts. And remember the greatness of this country. We are a country of intelligence and compassion, not fear and bullying. This is a crucial time for us to reclaim that for ourselves.

Elizabeth Banks

In her DNC opening remarks on July 26,

In her DNC opening remarks on July 26, 2016, Elizabeth Banks spoke about hearing Hillary Clinton speak at a rally for Bill Clinton in 1992.

“Hillary Clinton rocked my world,” she said. “A smart, committed, successful woman. And not for her own benefit, but a fighter for women and children, cops and first-responders, health care and girls around the world.”

Meryl Streep

Actress Meryl Streep endorsed Clinton at the Democratic

Actress Meryl Streep endorsed Clinton at the Democratic National Convention on July 26, 2016. In her speech, she asked the crowd, “What does it take to be the first female anything?”

“It takes grit, and it takes grace,” she said, and she listed a number of women who have been the first in their fields.

“These women share something in common: capacity of mind, fullness of heart and a burning passion for their cause,” she said. “They have forged new paths so that others can follow them, men and women, generation on generation. That’s Hillary.”

Demi Lovato

Demi Lovato spoke out in support of Hillary

Demi Lovato spoke out in support of Hillary Clinton at the Democratic National Convention on Monday, July 25, 2016, saying the nation needs a candidate who will improve the availability of medical treatment for those suffering from mental illness.

“I stand here today as proof that you can live a normal and empowered life with mental illness … I’m proud to support a presidential candidate who will fight to ensure all people living with mental health conditions can get the care they need to lead fulfilling lives,” Lovato said. “That candidate is Hillary Clinton.”

Sarah Silverman

Sarah Silverman has changed her political allegiance. The

Sarah Silverman has changed her political allegiance. The former Bernie Sanders supporter told the crowd on the first night of the Democratic National Convention that she now plans to vote for Hillary Clinton

Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga shared a photo of herself in

Lady Gaga shared a photo of herself in an American flag swim suit on Instagram with the caption, “#HILLARY2016 Nothing can keep a strong woman down. VOTE for the first female U.S. president in history. Shake it up America, this country needs a little rock n’ roll.”

President Barack Obama

President Barack Obama endorsed Clinton in a YouTube

President Barack Obama endorsed Clinton in a YouTube video posted on June 9, 2016. “Look, I know how hard this job can be — that’s why I know Hillary will be so good at it,” he said. “In fact, I don’t think there’s ever been someone so qualified to hold this office. She’s got the courage, the compassion and the heart to get the job done.”

Amy Schumer

Comedian Amy Schumer showed her love for Hillary

Comedian Amy Schumer showed her love for Hillary Clinton on April 19, 2016 when she posted a photo of herself in a Clinton T-shirt. “Said go New York go New York go! #imwithher,” she wrote on Twitter.


 

And now for the “major” celebrities who supported Donald Trump

Kanye West

Kanye West said he loved Trump's approach at

Kanye West said he loved Trump’s approach at a concert in San Jose, Calif., on Nov. 17, 2016. “If I would have voted, I would have voted for Trump,” he said, admitting that he didn’t participate in the election. He also shouted “build that wall” during the concert, apparently referring to Trump’s promise to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Clint Eastwood

Despite saying Trump has

Despite saying Trump has “said a lot of dumb things,” Clint Eastwood praised Trump for not being like the “kiss-ass generation” and worrying about political correctness. “He’s onto something because secretly everybody’s getting tired of political correctness, kissing up,” the actor said.

Aaron Carter

Aaron Carter explained in an April interview with

Aaron Carter explained in an April interview with People he supports Donald Trump because he likes “somebody who likes to defy the odds.”

“I’m too intelligent for you guys — like people, who don’t understand politics. I have a lot more information than I’ve given out,” he said.

Charlie Sheen

Actor Charlie Sheen said he would be Donald

Actor Charlie Sheen said he would be Donald Trump’s running mate “in a heartbeat” in a tweet in August 2015.

Gary Busey

Gary Busey said in September 2015 that he

Gary Busey said in September 2015 that he thinks Donald Trump would be a good president.

“I know him personally. I know him professionally. He’s a great guy. He’s sharp. He’s fast. He can change the country after the last eight years,” he told Fox News.


While, there were plenty of confusing aspects in this election as compared to others, this particular facet is very perplexing. To look back, in the 2008 democratic primary, Oprah Winfrey voiced her support in Barack Obama and as a result there “Oprah Effect” was created. Winfrey first showed her support for Obama in September 2006 before he had even declared himself a candidate. Then in May of 2007 Winfrey made her first endorsement of candidate Obama, and in December 2007, she made an appearance during his campaign trail. Many economist began to look at the effects of her support and it is estimated that Winfrey’s endorsement was worth over a million votes in the Democratic primary race. After substantial research into this, the conclusion was made that these votes were the result of the endorsement’s effect. Oprah’s support definitely had an effect on the 2008 presidential primary, but whether this is the case for other celebrities is less clear.

Now if we look to the support of Hillary we see major names, names that one would think are equivalent to Oprah, celebrities whose voice should carry a lot of weight. But despite all of this support and despite the lack of celebrity support for Trump, Donald Trump won and is becoming the next President of The United States of America. If celebrities have the reach and influence we all assume they have, then why did they not have a larger impact?

According to John Pitney, a Professor of Politics at California’s Claremont Mckenna College, celebrity influence currently has more to do with money than anything. “They can also get some attention for an under-funded or otherwise obscure candidate in a primary contest.” This doesn’t always translate into more votes, though. Pitney believes that, in most circumstances, celebrity endorsements “do not shift a significant number of votes in general elections for president.” And it shows for 2016’s race.

So, in conclusion to this first portion of our topic, while celebrities have major influence over the social aspects of our lives, aspects that exist in the marketplace, when it comes to politics or major nation wide issues, their reach tends to fall short. This isn’t to say that their voices don’t carry a certain amount of influence but it is to say that it isn’t the reach we believe them to have.

 


 

It is here that we would like to touch on a corner stone of our research in analyzing celebrities influence, in particular with relation to the 2016 election, which is the filter bubble. It is worth noting it came as a huge surprise to a large portion of the nation that Trump won however, and we would like to constitute this surprise to the filter bubble concept. A filter bubble is a result of a personalized search in which a website algorithm selectively guesses what information a user would like to see based on information about the user (such as location, past click behavior and search history) and, as a result, users become separated from information that disagrees with their viewpoints, effectively isolating them in their own cultural or ideological bubbles. This term was coined by internet activist Eli Praiser in his book Filter Bubble that we read in class and according to Pariser, users get less exposure to conflicting viewpoints and are isolated intellectually in their own informational bubble.

 

 

We feel that the reason a large portion of the nation was left in utter shock at the results of the election was because of the filter bubble. Having been skeptical of the concept when reading the book, we now understand that this concept is not so far fetched as we thought. We were stuck in our bubbles being shown only the support for Hillary.

In conclusion, GET OUT OF THE FILTER BUBBLE. In chapter 8 of the book Pariser talks out how we can put a stop to the filter bubble. He says that the responsibilities are shared between what government, corporations, and individuals. He says that as individuals we need to stop acting like mice. By mixing up our daily routine of sites we visit and instead visit a large variety of websites, that will in result expands our Filter Bubbles. He also wants companies to become more transparent about their filtering practices and to introduce more diversity into their search results and recommendations. Governments, he writes, should also start to regulate those who are collecting our data.

 

 

Citations –

Hagi, Sarah, By Steven Blum, By Sirin Kale, By Alice Lewis, By Jessica Pan, By Sarah Hagi, By Gabby Bess, By Kimberly Lawson, By Mary McGill, and By Lydia Faithfull. “How Much Celebrity Endorsements Actually Influence Election Results | Broadly.” Broadly. Accessed December 08, 2016. https://broadly.vice.com/en_us/article/how-much-celebrity-endorsements-actually-influence-election-results.”Trump’s Celeb Supporters: From Kirstie Alley to Tila Tequila.” Am New York. 2016. Accessed December 08, 2016. http://www.amny.com/news/elections/donald-trump-s-celebrity-supporters-actors-athletes-politicians-and-more-1.11807358.”Celebrities Supporting Hillary Clinton.” Am New York. 2016. Accessed December 08, 2016. http://www.amny.com/news/elections/hillary-clinton-celebrities-and-politicians-endorsing-her-democratic-bid-for-president-1.11741315. 

Based on the Research of Craig Garthwaite and Timothy Moore. “The Oprah Effect.” Kellogg Insight. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Dec. 2016.




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