Editorial: Celebrity politics-A A +A
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
A COMMISSION on Elections (Comelec) report confirms that more celebrities are seeking office in 2013. A seat in the House of Representatives is among the most popular targets.
The report states that reelection is on the minds of Reps. Manny Pacquiao of Sarangani, Lani Mercado of Cavite, Lucy Torres-Gomez of Leyte and Dan Fernandez of Laguna. Those who hope to join them include Alfred Vargas, Joey Marquez, Lino Cayetano, Imelda Papin, Joel Lamangan, Christopher de Leon, Aga Muhlach, Rez Cortes and, in Cebu City, Annabelle Rama.
The phenomenon is not new, but it is increasing. One reason for the rising influence of celebrity culture on politics is the continued blurring of the lines between information and entertainment. For most of the media and the celebrity establishment, the arrangement offers mutual benefit. It allows media organizations to reach more (and more distracted) audiences, while at the same time enabling celebrities to enhance their personal brand.
Not that celebrity involvement in the pressing issues of the day is necessarily a bad thing. Celebrity activists, after all, have succeeded in bringing to a wider audience a host of problems like hunger, Third World debt, climate change, and human rights violations.
Some celebrities enjoy not just quick name recall, but also arguably more credibility than politicians. When Angelina Jolie speaks about the plight of refugees or when George Clooney gets arrested in a protest, their stock rises because they don’t seem to be in it for personal gain, like winning public office. Sting, who is scheduled to perform in the Philippines in December, lent his star power to environmentalists campaigning to save more trees, when he refused earlier this week to hold his concert in one of SM’s venues.
Lending a popular face to a technical subject is one thing, however, and using one’s fame to win public office is another.
It would be undemocratic to ask that more stringent requirements for public office be legislated. But it also bears pointing out that not every celebrity has invested the time and energy studying complex problems and their equally complicated solutions.
This is why we’ve had the spectacle of one celebrity offering to give up her salary—her handbag money, was how she put it—if she does get elected to Congress.
Ultimately, it is the voters’ call. We can only hope that they see past the entertainment value of celebrities taking the campaign trail, and use their street smarts and discernment to vote only for those with the ability (and track record) in solving community problems.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 24, 2012.