Mena Soliman has analysed the endorsements in the 2016 presidential elections to answer the question: Can Snoop’s izzle bizzle get you into the White Hizzle?
It starts with E and ends in T. A single word that can make, break or define a subject. Carrying an immeasurable suggestive power, it’s a notion that can form the opinion of the masses in a heartbeat. That word is “endorsement.” But you know what else starts with E and ends in T? Excrement. And the finest line winds between them.
This is what I’ve been thinking about as the US presidential election lashes its curve around the primaries. You’d think that the entire point of any political campaign is to build awareness and garner support. The staff and electoral wizards working on the front lines (and behind the scenes) have one mission: convince voters to back their horse. So, using that theory, how important is the celebrity endorsement? Does a name translate into votes, or conversely harm a candidate’s run? Could a lifestyle espoused by an ex-Crip really make a tangible difference to the name on the door of the room, of the desk and the swivel chair, that Bill Clinton sullied?
The answer is a confused, subjective shrug, with more questions. But in order to creep closer to an absolute, let’s take a more detailed look at a few of the notable names branded upon the hind quarter of those in the stable.
Take Hillary Clinton. She’s got the hip-hop contingent all but squared away. Snoop Dogg, Timbaland and Pharrell, to Usher, Beyonce and 50 Cent – all on the bandwagon. Add Katy Perry, Kim Kardashian, Crazy Eyes (from Orange is the New Black), Spielberg, Leo, De Niro and Bryan Cranston, and it’s a fairly solid roster. She’s got Heisenberg, for God’s sake (I am the one who votes! – do it, Cranston). If this was the English Premier League, this would be Manchester City – a lot of money on the roster. In fact, Hilary is so “money” that I wouldn’t be surprised if she wears a diamond encrusted “H” the size of your face under that pantsuit. Hillary be pimpin’ yo. Just imagine if all these big names tallied up their social media followings: the number alone would make you the meat in a coma sandwich.
But not all the candidates have it so sweet. Poor old Donald Trump (perhaps the only time you’ll read that sentence) has Hulk Hogan. Hulk Hogan in 1985, maybe okay. In 2016, lord no. He also has that widely loved, family friendly face in Dennis Rodman; to that, add Gary Busey: the only thing he’s completely lost besides his star power is the plot. But somehow, it gets worse. The Trumper has Charlie Sheen in his corner, once vowing that’d he’d be Trump’s “VP in a heartbeat!” That’s sure to lock up the “no-one-in-their-right-mind” demographic.
If David Duke, a one-time KKK leader, doesn’t cap off his line-up of bad-news-bears, then that honour must go to Willie Robinson. What’s the matter, don’t know who Willie is? Willie is that fine prince from Duck Dynasty. Willie eloquently describes his support for his main man thusly: “I do like me some Donald Trump, I’ve got to admit!”
Like a gangrenous big toe, this team is hard to look at. Or ignore.
Bernie Sanders (who, by the way, wins the title for best hashtag: #FeelTheBern) has a mixed bag of awkward almosts. Flying under his Berner (TBS trademark pending), Daniel Craig, Will Ferrell and Spike Lee are probably carrying the team in the midfield, but is lacking in support from the back line. Mark Ruffalo and Justin Long – harmless silver screen staples from 2003 through 2007 – aren’t bad guys, they’d probably invite you to their backyard for a barbie. But are they hoping to reel in votes three at a time, weather pending?
Things don’t get much stronger (or taller) when you throw Danny DeVito into the line-up – again, if only it was 1990. Willie Nelson is super cool, and a good get, but he tends to lose track of exactly what he’s doing after 4pm. And as far as Bernie being able to boast of a cool kid with “x factor” is concerned, he only has Diplo; self-styled on Twitter as “The Squadfather.” Bernie sleeps well at night knowing this guy is punching out crisp, motivational communiqués on his behalf (he did mix that banger that extolled the merits of harming marsupials, though – Ed). Peep this Diploian response: “if i had any energy to engage the American political system i would vote for u cuz ur on point” [sic].
So basically Bernie has a team of fun-loving, eclectic Mighty Ducks – but before they overcome their own personal obstacles and believe in themselves at the end of reel four.
On the face of it, and in theory, a celebrity endorsement should be invaluable. If the figure backing you is universally loved, then, in turn, you will be loved. Then all that is left to do is take that cow out the back and flog it. But if your backing comes from that “oddball, nobody wants them near their kids” category, pack them a sandwich, some water and a compass and point far into the distance.
So much like the best of intentions, the ideal car-park, or like Communism, the concept works better than the reality, and these politicians may be better served by cutting ties and flying their own colours instead of mopping up the deck after the beer pong celebrities have dispersed.