NEW YORK, Nov 11, (Agencies): One lesson from the 2016 campaign: Celebrities guarantee attention, but they don’t ensure votes.
Few presidential candidates attracted as much A-list support as did former first lady and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. But rallies in Ohio with LeBron James, Beyonce and Jay Z did not prevent Republican rival and President-elect Donald Trump from prevailing in a state President Barack Obama had won twice. A joyous election eve gathering in Philadelphia, featuring a performance by Bruce Springsteen, did not prevent Clinton from losing Pennsylvania, where no Republican had won since 1988.
Meanwhile, Trump’s notable guests in the days leading up to his stunning victory included rocker Ted Nugent, whose last top 20 album came out in 1980. The Democratic National Convention featured appearances by Meryl Streep, Katy Perry, Lena Dunham and many others. One of Trump’s few celebrity endorsers at the Republican gathering was Scott Baio of “Happy Days” fame.
And it didn’t seem to matter.
“The overwhelming majority of voters know who they’re going to vote for long before the election and don’t decide based on celebrity endorsements,” says Jon Wiener, a history professor at the University of California, Irvine whose books include “How We Forgot The Cold War” and “Gimme Some Truth: The John Lennon FBI Files.”
“I know it’s hard to believe but there were more powerful political forces at work in Pennsylvania than Bruce Springsteen.”
On Thursday, celebrities themselves were still absorbing the election’s results. Actress Kyra Sedgwick, a self-described “lefty, liberal, living in New York and California,” said she yearned to visit “Trump country” and find “what binds us together.” Singer and stage actress Deborah Cox said she was living through “a real sobering moment.”
“It’s a tough time. It’s a real sobering moment, I think, for the country,” she said.
Trump, the former “Apprentice” star and the candidate with the longest background in entertainment since Ronald Reagan, apparently only needed his own endorsement. During the campaign he seemed to spend more time fighting celebrities than being praised by them. He continued his feud with Rosie O’Donnell, had harsh words for Jay Z and defied the wishes of the Rolling Stones, Adele and other artists by playing their music at his campaign appearances.
But the entertainment industry’s distaste for Trump may also have contributed to his image as an outsider shunned by the country’s elite.
“I’m here all by myself,” he said during a rally in Hershey, Pennsylvania. “Just me, no guitar, no piano, no nothing.”
Wiener says that getting support from a celebrity like Beyonce can “help create excitement and headlines” but is less important than inspiring people to vote. In Cleveland’s Cuyahoga County, for instance, turnout appeared to be down significantly from 2012, with preliminary results showing Clinton receiving some 60,000 fewer votes than Obama did four years earlier.
Meanwhile, Lady Gaga besieged Trump Tower. Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Lawrence penned a thoughtful essay. Miley Cyrus posted a tearful video.
Hillary Clinton’s celebrity supporters were in deep mourning Thursday as Hollywood came to terms with Republican Donald Trump’s stunning election as US president.
Pop princess Katy Perry, whose Twitter followers outnumber the populations of most European countries, urged her fans not to “sit still” or “weep.”
“We are not a nation that will let hate lead us,” she said.
Gaga, who sang at Clinton’s final campaign rally on Monday and demonstrated Wednesday on the sidewalk outside Trump Tower in Manhattan with a sign that read “Love Trumps Hate,” continued her protest Thursday via social media.
Meanwhile, Lawrence said she had no words of comfort for women who had concluded the “glass ceiling” for women in public office would never be broken.
“I don’t know what I would tell my daughter if I were you. Except to have hope.
To work for the future,” she wrote for Broadly, a channel geared toward women.
Cyrus began to cry on a video posted to Twitter as she said: “And so, Donald Trump, I accept you, and this hurts to say, but I even accept you as the president of the United States.”
Actors, directors and studio executives donated $22 million to Clinton’s run for the White House, compared with less than $300,000 for Trump.
Shell-shocked celebrities have been weighing up the implications of a Trump administration on the famously liberal film industry since Clinton conceded the election.
Rich Greenfield, a media analyst at BTIG Research, said in a blog post Trump might seek revenge on Hollywood, writing that there was “certainly an unquantifiable risk for the sector overall.”
“Donald J. Trump was a wild card as a candidate. We will see if the same applies to his presidency,” he added.
Chris Evans, JK Rowling, Amanda Seyfried, Kristen Bell, Cher, Ariana Grande, Seth MacFarlane and Rashida Jones were among a long list of celebrities lining up to voice their dismay on social media.
In Trump’s corner were a small but vocal group of stars who couldn’t wait to congratulate their candidate, among them Kirstie Alley, Azealia Banks, Hulk Hogan, Stephen Baldwin and Roseanne Barr.
“Great faith in God works. Mr @realDonaldTrump I’m proud to call you President of the United States of America,” tweeted “Happy Days” actor Scott Baio, who spoke at the Republican national convention this summer.
Jeff Bock, a senior box office analyst for Exhibitor Relations, was focusing on the positives of a Trump presidency, pointing out that Alec Baldwin might now renew his contract to impersonate Trump on “Saturday Night Live.”
“Also, old white men with hairpieces will take their rightful place as the de facto bad guy in action films. No more pinning ultimate evil on minorities and robots for the time being,” Bock told AFP.
He predicted that audiences could expect to see many more political movies towards the end of Trump’s first term.
“Activism within documentary circles will likely increase, too, as celebrities and various industry power players will use their leverage to fight back against the GOP,” he added.
The late-night hosts have struck a somber tone since the election, with Stephen Colbert, Trevor Noah and Samantha Bee sharing portentous messages and offering historical context among the usual jokes.
Robert De Niro, who appeared on ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” on Wednesday, was asked if he still wanted to hit Trump in the face.
The 73-year-old “Raging Bull” actor had appeared in a viral video saying he would like to punch the then-nominee, describing him as a “punk” and a “bozo.”
“I can’t do that now, he’s president,” he told Kimmel. “And I have to respect that position… We have to see what he’s going to do and how he’s really going to follow through on certain things.”