When well-known individuals arrive on campus, heads turn and ears perk. This was the case when actor Danny DeVito from The Lorax, Batman Returns and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia came to speak at the Arbor.
Speaking about sparking a revolution and caring for the people, the actor campaigned for Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders while hundreds of students gathered to watch. Though I have no issue with political campaigning, I did find fault in the implications of the procession.
Even though there were a handful of avid Bernie supporters, they were seemingly outnumbered by fans of Devito’s work on the screen and others who simply wanted to take part in the celebrity spectacle. As time went on, it became increasingly difficult to discern between DeVito fans and Sanders supporters.
Though DeVito came to advertise support for Sanders, the rally turned out to be more of a surprise star sighting on campus as more selfies were taken than actual policies were discussed. If people genuinely supported Sanders, it would not take a famous actor to bring out awareness and support. A well-versed and informed advocate would already understand his policies and be actively participating in registering voters and campaigning to others.
Just recently, another fellow representative of the acting industry, Shailene Woodley, visited the campus of the University of California, Santa Cruz to push for the same cause. Yet again, it seems as though she garnered a lot of attention as there was a relatively large turnout.
A troubling trend here is that a significantly greater number of people take part in these events when someone from the media comes to advertise. There are events on campus that discuss the actual policies that candidates have without anywhere near the same amount of turnout, such as other events held by UCSB for Bernie.
Since the event turned out a large and rowdy crowd, the university should take steps to regulate these kind of events. Just because a candidate is popular with a large crowd of students does not mean his or her campaign should be shoved down the throat of every student trying to get to class.
The event took place at the heart of campus during the middle of the day. Though Bernie seems to be the crowd favorite at Santa Barbara, there should also be events of the same magnitude for other presidential candidates so that all students can feel fully represented.
To help mitigate this problem, this public display should be held somewhere private when classes are not in session. The event detracts from a day’s normal flow as people skip class to attend and the loud cheers and chants distract students in nearby buildings. Rather, these types of mini-rallies should be held in private at a time that does not conflict with many scheduled classes.
It should not take a celebrity to coax people to vote, nor should people be unwillingly subjected to campaigns they may not agree with. Because they have a voice that will definitely be heard, celebrities will attract people who come to listen to their political views simply because they are fans. There should be more of an emphasis on the message rather than the messenger. The addition of a famous individual obfuscates this line.