After doing more substantial research and beginning to read deeper into the sources I identified for my preliminary bibliography, I have decided to narrow my topic. I am still going to focus on celebrity culture and its involvement in the political sphere but I want to specifically explore celebrity endorsements of political, social, and economic causes. I want to investigate the influence of this celebrity involvement and attempt to answer some of the lingering questions that I have including:
Is this form of celebrity involvement a new phenomenon? When did it start and how have its effects changed over time? Do public figures like Angelina Jolie and Bono have a greater capacity to influence the masses? Do celebrity endorsements of political candidates sway voters? Do celebrity sponsored campaigns such as “Rock the Vote” actually have an effect on voter turnout, specifically with regard to the youth vote? Why do celebrities get involved in these causes? Is it for their image or do they actually believe they can make a difference? Do politicians appreciate celebrity support or do they attempt to distance themselves, such as with President Obama and Scarlett Johansson? Should celebrities publicly endorse political candidates or are they simply taking advantage of their public image? What would Marx have to say about the use of celebrity in an attempt to influence mass culture? Is it an exploitation of the public? Are celebrity endorsements of charitable and political causes inherently good or bad? And does it matter?
I know that I have many unanswered questions at this point, which makes it difficult to make a definitive argument, but I do have a clear direction of where I want to go. Even though I am including celebrity involvement in social causes in my research, I think that I will probably choose to focus more on the political end of the spectrum. I am going to show the effects of celebrity involvement in politics, specifically around elections, using several academic studies that I have found. I will probably focus on the 2000, 2004, and 2008 national elections. Based on my findings, I will use Marx’s theories to identify the implications of the intermingling of celebrity culture and politics. Any suggestions would be much appreciated especially with regard to how I can incorporate more of Marx’s ideas into my paper.