On Sept. 19, singer-songwriter Taylor Swift posted to Instagram encouraging her fans to register to vote. “I’ve been so lucky to see so many of you guys at my U.S. shows recently. I’ve heard you raise your voices, and I know how powerful they are,” said Swift. “Make sure you’re ready to use them in our elections this year!” Following her message, Swift included a link to Vote.org, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization. That day, they received 35,252 new registrations, according to National Public Radio.
Like Swift, many other celebrities use their platforms to encourage fans to register to vote and advocate for change.
Singer-songwriter Harry Styles also uses his platform to highlight the need for social and political change. Before his “Harryween’’ performance in 2022, Styles partnered with HeadCount, a nonprofit organization that works with musicians to
promote democracy. As a result, he helped register more than 54,000 voters, according to Billboard.
Sophomore Emilia St. Pierre said that as a fan, she admires Styles for his “treat people with kindness” message. She appreciates that he embodies his beliefs rather than forcing them upon his fans.
“It makes me happy to support someone like him because he’s not saying to his fans, ‘You should believe this because I believe this.’ It’s just the little things, like dancing around with the rainbow flag or having a Black Lives Matter sticker on his guitar, that show his support for these different communities and create a very inclusive, safe environment. That’s why so many people love him,” St. Pierre said.
In an interview with AP News, Stephanie Aly, a New York-based professional with a background in community organizing for progressive politics-explained, “Fandoms are natural organizers. If you find the right issues and you activate them and engage them, then you can effect real change.”
Senior Abby Lockwood, Vice President of PioneerVote and Social Media Chair of the Women’s Political Engagement Commission, explained that while she believes celebrities should set an example for their fans and use their platform for “good,” they must use their influence responsibly.
“These celebrities should be free to express their beliefs, like any citizen, but since they have a massive platform, they cannot be spreading misinformation. It can make a massive difference for a celebrity to make a political statement, so they should use their platforms for good, in an educated manner.”
Lockwood, a political science major, said that celebrities don’t have much influence on her political beliefs.
“However, for those in our generation who aren’t political science nerds like me, celebrities can have a massive influence in politics, and when they use it for good, it can create huge change,” she said.
PioneerVote Social Media Coordinator, junior Annika Westra, emphasized the importance of separating the artist from their art and allowing yourself to draw your own conclusions without the influence of celebrities.
“I take into consideration the statements made by some of my favorite celebrities, but work to form my own opinions and do my own research on the issues they are speaking about,” said Westra. “I try to remember that at the end of the day, celebrities are people too.”Celebrities, like Swift and Styles, though not politicians, understand the responsibilities that come with their influence.
“First and foremost, register to vote! Your voice is valuable and deserves to be heard. Even if you think it won’t make a change, your vote counts and matters,” said Westra. “Secondly, do your own research! Definitely try to think for yourself and not be too heavily influenced by celebrities or social circles.”
To register to vote or learn more about political candidates and voting in your area, visit vote.org.