Arts & Entertainment

Published on February 26, 2017 | by Solomee Telahun     Photography by Solomee Telahun


The blurred lines between entertainment and politics

It seems the lines between entertainment and politics are blurring. Gone are the days where celebrities were only politicians on the small screen. Arnold Schwarzenegger was governor of California, Donald Trump is president of the United States, and Kevin O’Leary is now following in those steps.

On Jan. 18th, Kevin O’Leary the businessman turned television celebrity announced that he would be running for the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada.

“I sort of saw it coming but I still couldn’t help but roll my eyes and think ‘here we go again’,” says political science student, Jaspreet Gill who sees this as a repeat of what happened in the United States.

It’s a sentiment shared by many, as O’Leary’s candidacy announcement brought almost immediate comparisons to President Trump from both the media and public.

But opinion columnist Robyn Urback says we shouldn’t be quick to compare the two reality television stars. “He’s a bombastic, well known, recognisable TV personality, but in terms of what he’s saying a lot of it doesn’t have to do with what Donald Trump is saying.”

While O’Leary may not be a carbon copy of Trump and his rhetoric, she says O’Leary’s relative fame may help him pull ahead of his competitors.

“There’s certainly that advantage of being well known, I think people like Kevin O’Leary… [Trump’s win] sends a message to other people that if you’re famous enough and say things loudly enough you can make it happen,” says Urback.

O’Leary’s fame isn’t the only factor that may give him an edge other Conservative party leadership candidates. What may really be blurring the lines between celebrity and politics is the distrust in traditional politicians according to a politics professor at University of Guelph-Humber.

“I think not knowing politicians attract us to famous people, because we do recognise those people in some way,” says Tina Virmani, University of Guelph-Humber.

She says the media really fuels the idea of celebrity in politics. “It’s really the media coverage. A big lesson I’ll say from the American model is they covered the election campaign like it was a reality show.”

Members of the Conservative Party of Canada will be voting for their new party leader on May 27, 2017.

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About the Author

is a journalism student who likes to think she's sort of a cool eclectic, but is promptly (and humbly) told the opposite by her mom. Until then she is a musically untalented nerd that just wants to share her music taste with the world.

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