Pop culture politics


Gender: Male
Birthday: August 29, 1936
Political Views: Conservative
Religious Views: North Phoenix Baptist Church
Interests: Sports, Hiking, Fishing, Boxing, Basketball, Football, Baseball, History
Favorite Movies: Viva Zapata, Letters From Iwo Jima, Some Like It Hot
Favorite Books: For Whom the Bell Tolls
Favorite TV Shows: 24, Seinfeld

Gender: Male
Relationship Status: Married to Michelle Obama
Birthday: August 4, 1961
Religious Views: Christian
Interests: Basketball, writing, loafing w/ kids
Favorite Music: Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Bob Dylan, Stevie Wonder, Johann Sebastian Bach (cello suites), and The Fugees
Favorite Movies: Casablanca, Godfather I & II, Lawrence of Arabia and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
Favorite Books: Song of Solomon (Toni Morrison), Moby Dick, Shakespeare’s Tragedies, Parting the Waters, Gilead (Robinson), Self-Reliance (Emerson), The Bible, Lincoln’s Collected Writings
Favorite TV Shows: Sportscenter
Favorite Quotations: “The Arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” (MLK)

    Imagine having more than one million friends on Facebook. Barack Obama has 1,906,886 and counting. Because sites like Facebook and MySpace have grown in popularity over the last five years, presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain, who has 539,853 “supporters,” have hopped on the personal profile bandwagon in attempts to connect with the youngest generation of voters.
    Besides social Web sites, pop culture seems to be working its way into politics with every techological advancement. From online, interactive multimedia to a candidate’s fashion sense, Americans are bombarded more frequently than ever with information on the race to the White House.

    Bryan Cox, senior in political science and president of K-State’s Young Democrats, said Obama has taken advantage of the pop-culture appeal in the 2008 presidential election and has focused on connecting with younger voters by appearing on popular late-night TV shows. Obama has appeared on “Saturday Night Live,” “The Today Show” and “The Tonight Show” with Jay Leno.
    McCain also made appearances on popular daytime and nighttime TV shows like “The View” and “Larry King Live,” but also has shied away from several opportunities for late-night TV exposure. According to a Wednesday article in the Los Angeles Times, McCain canceled an appearance on “The Late Show” with David Letterman that was scheduled for later that evening, and said he wanted to halt all campaigning in lieu of the U.S. financial crisis. In addition to gaining publicity through TV appearances, the candidates have used the traditional commercial persuasion to try and win votes as well as bash their opponent.
    Todd Simon, professor of journalism and mass communication who has also worked on several political campaigns, said one of McCain’s recent commercials stated that Obama was just a celebrity, comparable to Paris Hilton, hotel heiress and star of the TV series “The Simple Life.” However, this campaign strategy backfired when Hilton shot back with a commercial, calling McCain an “old, white, wrinkled guy.”

    Though there might be different opinions on whether political candidates are simply a form of celebrity, many use the power of Hollywood endorsements to catapult them to voter popularity. McCain and Obama are no different.
    Both candidates have had famous actors, comedians, musicians and public figures speak for them at national conventions, in advertisements. Will.i.am, singer for The Black Eye Peas, even wrote the songs “Yes We Can” and “We are the Ones” based on Obama’s speeches, and the music videos, featuring celebrities like actress Jessica Alba and musician and singer John Legend, have been featured on YouTube.
    Laurie Bagby, professor of political science, said she thinks the videos are attention getting for voters.
    “The videos have a sense of humor that I have never seen before,” she said.


-Oprah Winfrey, talk-show host
-will.i.am, singer for The Black Eyed Peas
-The Kennedy Women: Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg and Maria Shriver, political figures
-Ben Affleck, actor
-George Clooney, actor
-Scarlett Johansson, actress
-Samuel L. Jackson, actor
-Chris Rock, comedian
-Robert De Niro, actor
-Jennifer Aniston, actress


-Chuck Norris, actor
-Sylvester Stallone, actor
-Arnold Schwarzenegger, actor, politician
-Wilford Brimley, actor
-Dean Cain, actor
-Ted Nugent, musician
-Jon Voight, actor
-LeAnn Rimes, singer
-Jon Cryer, actor
-Jerry Bruckheimer, director


    Historically, first ladies have been looked to for fashion trends and style ideas. According to a June 5 article in the New York Post, Michelle Obama and Cindy McCain are doing their best to push the image of the first lady forward.

    For day, Michelle favors modest, safe pieces in neutral tones; she often wears her hair in a stiff flip and uses little makeup, according to the article. She has also been compared to President John F. Kennedy’s wife, Jackie Onassis Kennedy, who was considered one of the most stylish first ladies to live in the White House. 
    “Michelle’s inspired by classic people,” said Suze Yalof Schwartz, executive fashion editor at Glamour magazine. “She may be tall” – nearly six foot — “but she has the perfect frame for shift dresses.”
    Cindy, on the other hand, favors high-end designers – Escada, Carolina Herrera – but in some ways, she dresses younger than her Democratic counterpart: She has a collection of fitted leather blazers and laser-cut suits, and wears her hair in loose buns and age-appropriate waves.
    According to the article, for a recent ceremony at the White House, McCain chose a simple tweed suit – also modernized with a thin leather belt – that Yalof Schwarz characterized as “very fashion magazine editor-in-chief, very corner office.”

— Hannah Blick contributed to this story