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Fans and Stars and Politics

Cher-carterPolitics in America have finally come to a head and both sides have long since become vitriolic. I actually think this is a good thing. Americans are finally learning civics again and what defending a democracy requires of them. Millions of people on both sides of the fence have dropped their Entertainment Weekly’s and must-see-tv to join groups, make phone calls and just generally just show up. They’re getting connected in a way I’ve never seen before. My whole life I heard my grandfather, a former coal miner, mechanic and sawmill owner, try to convince our family to get engaged in the political process. Imagine this in the 1980s when I was a teenager. Time Magazine was declaring feminism dead by the end of the 80s. Nobody cared if it wasn't the latest MTV video.

It’s an amazing, yet scary, time right now. People are yelling at the barricades. And don’t think for a minute there would have been peace if Hillary had won; anti-Hillary groups were already threatening election day violence. See “Some Donald Trump Voters Warn of Revolution if Hillary Clinton Wins.”)

So I often wonder how fans are getting along in this political climate, all super fans whose politics don’t match the politics of their celebrity obsession. There are celebrities who are artfully abstaining from even commenting about politics to stars who are right there in the trenches. Think Kayne West fans who are Democrats. Or think of the Trump supporters who like Cher.

When I was 8 years old my grandpa sat me down at the dinner table and asked me how I could be such a big Cher fan when I didn’t even know her politics. I didn’t know how to answer that. I surely didn’t know her politics. Although she was quite clear about them on The Sonny & Cher Show. She supported Jimmy Carter and Sonny supported Gerald Ford. And if you followed the 1970s paparazzi, (which I didn’t), you may have seen her attend the Carter inaugural party with  Gregg Allman.

I found out much later that Cher was a Democrat. How would I feel if she wasn’t? The same way I felt about Sonny? And what even is that? Sometimes you and your obsession just don’t match. Personal experiences are just so varied. I remember not liking such or such position Sonny might have taken as a U.S. Congressman. But then there were issues where we overlapped. I wasn’t as big a Sonny fan by that time so it didn’t seem to affect me personally. He wasn't my congressman, after all.

Now things have become very personal. And how are we all going to respond to celebrity activism? I find it hard to believe a Cher fan could just now could be realizing Cher is a Democrat. She’s supported democrats on her television show back in the 70s and campaigned with them since the late 1960s. And then you have the indisputable tweets. I mean the tweets alone! You’d have to be completely ignoring YEARS worth of wonderfully incendiary political tweets. Suddenly this election comes and it matters?

But then I think if I had a Cher blog and suddenly Cher became a rabid Trump supporter, I guess I would struggle with it on my blog. Maybe I would try to work it out there, too.

I also wonder how Cher will be perceived by generations looking back. Like how we now look back on Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall when they were the first prominent stars to finally stand up against McCarthyism and the blacklisting of actors, directors, writers and producers in Hollywood. Will Cher be a famous footnote to yet another scary political era? Will her activism give her greater prominence as something beyond a pop star? Will she be understood as a pioneering tweet activist followed by Millennials and pundits who were never really fans of her music or her movies?

Or will she be marginalized by her detractors because she was a "has-been" celebrity who “got into politics.” I guess it depends on who perseveres to write the story.

Here are the political Cher stories of the new year:

Alec Baldwin (Channeling Donald Trump), Robert De Niro, Cher and More Celebs Attend Anti-Trump Rally in NYC (US Magazine)

Alec Baldwin, Cher, Robert De Niro among celebrities at anti-Trump rally (My Statesman—Austin)

Thousands protest in Washington, New York City in defiance of Trump (USA Today); Same story in The Irish News

Cher on the resistance to 'unbelievable narcissist' Trump (MSNBC)

Cher, America Ferrera, Katy Perry and others set to headline the Women’s March on Washington (Washington Post)

Katy Perry, Scarlett Johansson, Cher among celebs set to join Women's March on Washington (CBC)

Ivanka Trump Shows Off $5,000 Dress in Midst of Immigration Chaos ... Internet Reacts (Cher joins in the crowdsourced Twitter fury) (Yahoo)

From Shonda Rhimes to Cher to Tim Kaine, Public Figures React to Obama's Farewell Address (Yahoo)

 

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