By Letre Sweeting
Sept. 30, 2016
Alec Best didn’t like the commercial featuring celebrities urging people to vote for Hillary Clinton.
He was scrolling through Facebook in his room on Sept. 21 when he saw a video starring Robert Downey Jr. He thought it would be amusing, but it wasn’t, Best said.
Celebrities discouraged people from voting for “a racist abusive coward that could permanently damage the fabric of our society.”
“But celebrities shouldn’t be making a political statement. It’s not their job,” thought Best.
The commercial supported Clinton with backing from A-list and B-list celebrities, including Downey, Scarlett Johansson, Mark Ruffalo and Don Cheadle.
Best is an American studying music performance at Holland College in Charlottetown. He registered to vote in the U.S. election this November.
Despite the commercial’s pro-Clinton message, his vote for president has not changed, said Best.
“I’m pretty set in stone…I’m still voting for Trump.”
The opinions of celebrities should not make a difference in a person’s vote, said Best.
“It’s not really their place to beg people on Facebook to vote for someone.”
Kathie Sulis is a marketing and advertising instructor at the college. She also saw the commercial. She disagreed with Best.
The use of celebrities is an age-old practice in swaying public opinion. Using social media and television also helped the cause, she said.
“I already have my own opinions on the subject, but if I didn’t … it (the commercial) would be a factor in my decision.”
This election is popular because it’s more entertaining than others. Using celebrities in commercials adds entertainment to its message, she said.
“The subject material is just juicier. In the ad… they are trying to use fear to keep voters from supporting Trump.”
Don Desserud is a political science instructor at U.P.E.I. He agreed with Sulis.
This commercial was framed as a bid to manipulate the emotions of voters, he said.
“The ad maker wants the viewer to see this ad as similar to fighting cancer, animal welfare, saving the environment, and other issues and causes.”
This commercial was designed to swing the votes of the undecided, or those planning on staying home, he said.
“The idea is that these actors are cool and hip and if you want to be cool and hip too, you will respond favourably.”
Despite its intent, the commercial will not sway Trump supporters, he said.
“Trump supporters will see this ad as further evidence that the Hollywood is just a big liberal establishment in league with the Democrats. Trump will be happy they think so.”
Joss Whedon, director of the movie The Avengers, funded the commercial. He founded Save the Day, an independent political action committee and digital production company dedicated to voter awareness.