Save the Cheerleader, Vote Obama?
Iâ€™ve been amused by two recent political ads, one including Gossip Girl stars/adverbs Blake Lively (Serena) and Penn Badgely (Dan), and the other with Heroesâ€™ Hayden Pannetiere. Celebrities making political appeals is hardly anything new, but both ads play quite cleverly off the shows and the characters to aid their cause.
Lively and Badgelyâ€™s ad mocks the â€œtalk to your kids about drugsâ€ PSAs by imploring young viewers to talk to their parents about voting McCain. Lively and Badgely are Gossip Girlâ€™s resident good kids (well, as good as one could be in that show, I guess), and their make-believe school suffers from substance abuse aplenty. Thus, one can imagine them to be called upon to deliver the â€œdonâ€™t do drugsâ€ message; instead, a more sinister behavior concerns them â€“ voting McCain. One could imagine a more conflicted ad if the stars were replaced with Gossip Girlâ€™s resident bad kids, Leighton Meester (Blair) and Ed Westwick (Chuck).
Hayden Pannetiereâ€™s piece also plays with her character. In Heroes, sheâ€™s invincible, and fighting to save the world. Moreover, as anyone aware of this thing called â€œpopular cultureâ€ knows, Heroesâ€™ catch-phrase in Season One was â€œSave the Cheerleader, Save the World,â€ and Pannetiere was the cheerleader in question. So, when she warns of how â€œweâ€™ll all probably die,â€ thereâ€™s a (playful) added level of horror, as if the only thing worse than Sylar, Adam, or another Ali Larter character is McCain.
I realize now that my last post was also about stars using their characters to add weight to a political message. And, of course, the obvious other example is Martin Sheen, who got many years worth of political rallies and stump speeches out of being the beloved Jed Bartlet. All are interesting examples of how to use oneâ€™s stardom as para/inter/extratext.Tags: Gossip Girl, Hayden Pannetiere, heroes, politics, stars