The Political Celebrity Is Now A Business Liability

Business is about creating choices in products and services that change people’s lives, hopefully for the better. Politics is a about controlling the lives of its people, businesses, and the choices they can make. For the betterment of whom – is an open question.

It’s one thing for a celebrity spokesman to give their endorsement to any product. Whether it’s a true one (as in they actually use, believe in the product) or, it’s just one of the myriad of paid-for versions, where you instinctively know what their selling – they’re more likely than not – not using.

We all know the game, and understand it. (Hint: I doubt very much any A-list Hollywood actor would be seen, let alone photographed driving around in a Lincoln®. Nothing against driving one and they’re nice cars, but do I really need to say more?)

However, everything changes in nearly every dynamic when a celebrity (and/or business) begins selling the political, whether it be a position or candidate. The reason?

There’s no choice for the people (or customer) who doesn’t want to “buy”, for lack of a better term. i.e., What ever it is – they’re now forced into it. When it comes to politics (or the insertion of it) this dynamic can not be avoided. Whether good, bad, or indifferent.

In business (i.e. the offering of a product or service) one has a choice: as in buy it, or not.

In the political: There is no choice once the polls close.

Everyone (as in customers) now has to deal with what the celebrity endorsed, whether they want to, or not. That’s the political example. And most people instinctively understand the difference. Which is why many take great offense when a celebrity becomes politically involved, especially when it pertains to so-called “hot button issues.”

This is the reason why injecting politics into business should be avoided at all costs. Why? Because adding the political into ones product, in any way, forces the dynamic of alienating customers within your own customer base. A Business 101 no-no.

It (being the political) can not be managed out, or away, once inserted.

The moment you allow politics into the business – the political business is what you are now in. Regardless, if you want it – or not. It supersedes all other business considerations in the eyes of many, both customers and company alike.

Here’s a rule of thumb example: If you have 100 customers, then suddenly add a political element to your business structure. You immediately have to assume you’ve put at risk 50 (or around half thereabout) of your existing customers to either consider, or decide, to shop elsewhere.Yet, it doesn’t end there.

For once you openly add the political – so too have you added an “us vs them” within your own company. And factions will align and work against each-other to show their solidarity to the “cause.” Employees, or departments will no longer work as one. Far too many business leaders forget this all too important dynamic.

That’s why it’s to be avoided (or at least was) at all costs, because the costs are potentially far too high to begin with. Yet, the lesson/reminder of this dynamic, and its cascading repercussions, are playing out for all too see on the biggest stage, and under the brightest lights, than those even imagined by Hollywood itself.

Of course, I’m referring to the Weinstein debacle, with all of its intrigue and allegations.

What this moment in history has also done is exposed for all to see what will now to be forever monikered as the “Hollywood Hypocrite” moment.

This is going to be a type-casting label that’ll be applied to not only all of Hollywood, but almost any political wanna-be celebrity so firmly, and with such a broad brush, it’ll make bottles of Superglue® envious.

Back in December I penned the article: “The Political Celebrity: Another Jump The Shark Moment” This was in direct response to the sheer lack of intellectual honesty, as well as critical thought emanating via Hollywood.

Here’s a portion of what I wrote. To wit:

However, with that said I do believe the most recent incarnation of the “political celebrity” may indeed be going way of the Dodo bird. Case in point: Martin Sheen and his leading of the gaggle to influence electors of the electoral college to stand up – and cast their vote for someone else.

In what was supposedly some form of call-to-action video Martin Sheen (did you notice the purple shirt?) and others called for electors to change their votes away from their sworn obligated duties and cast them for someone else. They wouldn’t openly state their desired choice (cough-Hillary-cough) however the intent was clear.

The problem? A few electors did just that. The result? The exact opposite of what they prayed, begged, tantrum’d hoped for, inflicting even further humiliation into what can only be described as – rubbing rock salt into an already mortal wound.

It doesn’t matter which side of the political spectrum you fall on. If you look at this latest episode in the effectiveness of “celebrity” endorsements you can not come away with anything less than it no longer works.

Yet, that hadn’t stopped Hollywood from trying, with Herculean fashion and effort.

The pompous, “we know better than you,” “we are better than you,” and more wreaked from not only television, but radio, print, and live stages everywhere. And just when you thought you could escape it? It was inserted into every gala or award show as a world-stage-event to get up and openly ridicule, attack, insult, again, and again the viewing audience. i.e., Their customers.

Everyone was on the bandwagon. That is, except the band. Which just so happens to be about 50% of the electorate, again, their customers. (some will/may put that 50% much higher, but this is just for demonstrative purposes.)

The result? Need I bring up any ratings or viewership stats for any of these programs? Hint: Use the search engine of your choice and just include the word “abysmal.” I just leave it at that.

And then: Harvey Weinstein happened. And the “stage” for all of those political celebrities changed with it. Or, said differently: All their so-called “enlightened viewpoints” have descended down the drain, in unison, along with Mr. Weinstein.

And they ain’t coming back any time soon. Why?

The responses both in content, context, and timing via all of Hollywood, and especially those who were first to a camera or microphone to denounce anything they did not deem “proper” has been not only disingenuous. But rather, has put on full display for the world to see some of the most pathetic, and bad acting, ever portrayed in unison by not only Hollywood itself, but by all its ancillary counterparts such as magazines, talk shows, late night comedy shows, and more.  And yes, even many of the politicians they so adored, embraced, and shilled for. It has been beyond pathetic in all cases.

Everyone knows, and I mean just that – everyone – knows Hollywood knew, along with all its ancillary enablers (all media/entertainment) including the political. The only ones who are still in disbelief are those still thinking their “I didn’t know!” acting job has helped sway their prior culpable demeanor. Hint: It hasn’t, it’s only magnified the hypocrisy making it even easier to see with every denial uttered.

And with that comes the ensuing, pent-up backlash. And it’s showing up in far more numbers, and far more boisterous that suddenly it’s the political celebrity finding themselves in the crosshairs of indignant reprimands.

This is already taking place across the spectrum. George Lopez for one has already found himself in those crosshairs. He’s far from going to be the first, or last. Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Meryl Streep, and more have already lost more credibility in the last few weeks than their latest box office proceeds.

People have had enough, again, regardless of what side of the political aisle one strides: they want the political striding off their “red” carpets and out of their entertainment venues. Both Left, and Right have had enough.

The Weinstein affair has now made all of it (e.g. the insertion of politics) as toxic as the meltdown of nuclear reactor’s core . And at the center of it, the “fuel-rods” if you may, is the “political celebrity.” The meltdown effects are probably equal in both scale and outcome, with a similar half-life.

Many a once lauded “political celebrity” is going to suddenly find themselves the recipient of many a cold shoulder. Some will be lucky if they don’t find themselves as they did in the old days, as in recipients of “rotten tomatoes” of the real kind.

Will “Hollywood” learn its lesson? Probably not. But if you, or anyone else, want to see just how pernicious and business damaging allowing the political into one’s business can be. Don’t take my word for it. (as I argued in 2015) And forget Hollywood. Just look to the NFL® or ESPN™ today. Or rather…

Look at how many are no longer watching may be a better metric to judge the effects. And all businesses should take heed, before, it’s too late.

Although, for some – that moment may have already passed.

© 2017 Mark St.Cyr