Singer, Taylor Swift inspired 65,000 people to register for the upcoming November 6 polls in Tennessee to kick out the 'problematic' Marsha Blakburn from the House of Representatives, when they were reluctant to register for voting eligibility.
In September, Pulse examined the power of Nigerian celebrities from ‘the Davido angle‘, whose heavy involvement in his uncle, Senator Ademola Adeleke’s quest to become Osun State Governor nearly paid off, but for what some deemed ‘intermeddling from the powers that be.’
The angle was simple; celebrity means power that ignites a following, viral potential, and loyalty from large sections of individuals that follow the action of or even idolize these celebrities.
The ‘Stan’ culture, the internet, and the social media era have revolutionized the status of celebrities to near demi-gods. The means of information dissemination has been so significantly abridged by social media activity that with a single swipe of the finger from a particular celebrity, influence can reveal the fate of certain phenomena or even politician.
24 hours ago, multi-platinum recording artist and pop star, Taylor Swift took to her Instagram account @taylorswift to urge people in her home state of Tennessee, in the United States to register for the November 6, 2018 polls — she also told them she would be voting in the elections.
Importantly, she canvassed for votes against, Republican, Marsha Blackburn because, “She voted against equal pay for women. She voted against the Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, which attempts to protect women from domestic violence, stalking, and date rape.
“She believes businesses have a right to refuse service to gay couples. She also believes they should not have the right to marry. These are not MY Tennessee values. I will be voting for Phil Bredesen for Senate and Jim Cooper for House of Representatives.“
Galvanizing people against Blackburn, she says, “So many intelligent, thoughtful, self-possessed people have turned 18 in the past two years and now have the right and privilege to make their vote count. But first you need to register, which is quick and easy to do.“
The results were simple, the registration site recorded its second busiest day of 2018 with 155,490 unique visitors after the National Voters Registration Day.
In a nutshell, the Instagram post led 65,000 people to register for the upcoming polls, underlining the power of celebrity to tip the scales and swing the pendulum towards a particular candidate or cause.
Earlier this year, the actions or inactions of celebrities like Kylie Jenner and Rihanna in boycotting the social media site, Snapchat led to a significant slump in share pricing and in turn market capitalization of the company. The company lost $1.3 billion in market value according to Bloomberg Business.
In 2015, the Lagos State Gubernatorial race received a massive facelift of the ‘cool and swank’ when acts like Ice Prince, Yemi Alade, MI Abaga and Olamide recorded a song titled, “Gbabe” in support of then-contestant, Akinwumi Ambode — the song became an anthem that arguably endeared people towards Ambode and kept his name in conversations, despite being slightly obscure and unknown to the masses or mekunu at the time.
The power of celebrity is so pivotal to campaigns these days that whatever they endorse is sure to get a kick up the backside and experience some upturn in fortune.
The Nigerian reluctance to get a PVC
Like what Tennessee was experiencing in the reluctance to participate in the election, potentially electing a problematic politican, unknown to them, probably due to grievances with the government of the day, Nigeria has been experiencing similar reluctance, especially from millennials to obtain the Permanent Voter’s Card (PVC), the symbol of eligibility to vote during the 2019 general elections.
The grievances with the current government are well-documented, and that is the reason why certain influencers have started the #GetYourPVC hashtag to ensure Nigerians participate and kick underperforming politicians out, especially when advents like #NotTooYoungToRun is considered. But despite their best efforts, turn-outs are still not at optimum level.
Also despite the compelling reasons, several millennials — like this scribbler — are still significantly disinterested in getting their PVC because they feel the electoral corruption is far too steep, that whatever they do, the central government they want out might yet win again.
They fear their vote will not count for much and those fears are valid.
Asides that, the stressful exercise to get this PVC is unreasonable. A lot of people spend bare hours in the sun to get this simple card and it goes further to exemplify the problem with Nigeria that increases cynicism in the minds — like mine — of an already averse person to the idea of getting that PVC.
People feel like Nigeria is not good enough to warrant such dedication to a cause that might only be good enough to foster manipulation of numbers and to justify rigging, come 2019. Nigerian millennials don’t even celebrate independence.
Some people even obtained this PVC because they needed it as a means of identity, or probably due to the absence of a National Passport, Drivers’ License or National ID card, OR towards doing more personally profitable causes like opening a bank account or getting a job OR securing a way to get out of Nigeria, to a distant western colony.
The question then remains; with these documented issues, can any celebrity significantly sway already cynical Nigerians like Taylor Swift?
The answer is simple; not really. Yes, endorsement of ‘the PVC cause’ from a much-loved celebrity to get a PVC will go some way, but Nigeria is a different animal altogether. Americans usually love their country more than Nigerians currently do.
Most Nigerians, especially millennials couldn’t give Nigerian a second, except it pays them mad dividends and it’s not their fault. The country doesn’t inspire much loyalty or love from her citizens and its problems seem to only fester as years become decades and decades roll into centuries.
Celebrities are already galvanizing Nigerians to go get their PVC, but it has not worked. No amount of celebrity charge will inspire Nigerians to get that PVC in those numbers, it seems. The reason is equally simple…
There is a fundamental reason for such stoic cynicism
The reason is Nigeria, a country people, especially see as not worthy of their loyalty, time or energy, except personal gratification is involved. It is this simple reason why no amount of celebrity endorsement will inspire Nigerians to get the PVC like Taylor Swift has rallied her fellow Tennessee natives to register for the upcoming polls.
If the country isn’t attractive enough, you cannot be inspired to have faith. If a country is not working, and no worthy politician is up for the post of President, no amount of charge from whoever the celebrity is will do anything.