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“Empire” Cast “I’m With Her”: Should Celebs Keep their Political Views to Themselves?

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by G. Brown

Twenty-four days until one of the most divisive, dirty and unbelievable presidential elections most of us have ever witnessed comes to a head on election day.  As the mudslinging reaches a new high in accusations of sexual assaults and rapes, the country slowly and collectively sinks to a new low. News coverage has turned into non-stop wrestling arenas where surrogates from each camp try to out maneuver their opponent and come up with the perfect choke hold and late night TV hosts rattle off rapid fire zingers and punch lines as both candidates keep giving them ammunition daily. A meme sums up this mess we call a presidential debate as a fight between two divorced parents, and we the kids caught in the middle would just rather go live with grandma.

Joining the long list of political pundits and surrogates bombarding us with talking points  and trying to sway our minds are some of our favorite actors, singers and entertainers.”Empire” just returned for Season three less than a month ago and so far remains a top rated show for FOX as addicted fans can’t wait to see what happens next with the Lyons family. The show, like ABC’s “Black-ish” and Netflix’s “Luke Cage”, has proven that primarily Black cast shows can be powerhouses that deliver huge audiences.  The cast of “Empire” decided to use some of its influence to speak to viewers who will turn voters come November 8th.

While the main message of the ad is to encourage Black viewers to get out and vote, the cast members also share which candidate they are supporting.  The ad is paid for by Hillary for America as noted on screen at the end of the spot.

Actors using their celebrity to catapult a candidate to victory is nothing new.  Historians say celebrity endorsements began back in 1920 when Republican President Warren G. Harding capitalized on the the then flowering film industry by using silent screen stars to campaign for him. The trend stuck…JFK had the popular rat pack of  Sammy Davis Jr. and Frank Sinatra …Obama had Oprah Winfrey and JayZ…and Hillary Clinton has a long list of A-listers on team Hillary including  singers  Stevie Wonder, Usher, John Legend and actors  like Morgan Freeman, Chris Rock and Robert De Niro who went low-grade nuclear on Trump in his video…

Trump has fewer stars circling in his presidential orbit, but they are faithful supporters like Mike Tyson, Terrell Owens and Dennis Rodman.   Rapper Azealia Banks was team Trump until the recent explosion of women accusing him of sexual assault. She recently withdrew her endorsement of the Republican saying on Facebook:

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Banks went on to say she “felt dumb for ever having added my two cents to this election mess.”—and that is perhaps the wisest thing she could have said.  If we learned nothing else this political season, it’s that politics can be complex, corrupt and confusing.  We only need to listen  to the candidates and what they stand for, what their plans for the country are and how they propose to fix problems to make our decision.  When too many voices start telling us what to think, how to think and who we should vote for—it does become a crowded, cloudy “mess”.

Some celebs get involved because they want to use their clout for what they think is a good cause, but it can become manipulation for some who will back a candidate because their favorite actor or singer is backing them.  Sometimes, celebs are dragged into the  political spotlight like Beyonce. Trump’s campaign is blaming Beyonce, hip-hop and rap music for creating a “rape culture” that uses worse language than we heard on that now infamous “things-Trump-says-on-a-bus” video. Which by the way is utter nonsense in the form of subterfuge and just another racist dig . No sane person would ever believe Trump listens to hip-hop or could have been influence by the song “Formation” which wasn’t released in 2005 when he made the sexual assault commentary).

Chalk it up to dirty politics, note the story and walk away to decide how that story factors into your decision.  But make no mistake about it—it is your decision, your vote, your voice.  Websites like TRN will bring you stories about who’s endorsing whom, what this singer said about that candidate, but it’s all to keep you informed…not to tell you to vote the way  someone else or everybody else is voting.  Celebrity endorsements have become too big an influence–it shouldn’t matter who others are voting for, the only vote that matters is yours.

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