Interview on Donald Trump

Posted on Jun 1, 2016

Would Donald Trump or a similar celebrity candidate could ever have as much success in Britain?

Luke Terry interviews Centre for Media and Celebrity Studies (CMCS) scholars for his postgraduate research at City University in UK. Canada’s City TV interviews CMCS Director Dr Samita Nandy for further views on Donald Trump’s inauguration as President.

Here are our views:

“I do not believe a celebrity candidate would have similar success in the UK as there is less integration between celebrity and political spheres. While it must be recognised that a certain amount of celebrification occurs within the political sphere as a result of more widespread celebritization, a greater emphasis on the individual within the electoral process in the US enables public figures to leverage their ‘well-knownness’ to more easily increase popular appeal. This is especially the case if that figure is active in multiple spheres (business, media and online) like Trump. Interaction between celebrity and political spheres occurs in the UK, as it does elsewhere. However there appears to be a greater distinction between advocacy and political ambition.”

– Dr Celia Lam

“No, I do not believe it is likely in a British government system, just as it is unlikely to happen in Australia. People do not vote for an individual, they vote for a party. It is however possible to become an elected member of parliament, but unlikely for them to become leader of a dominant party just based on their celebrity alone. For example, in Australia, Midnight Oil frontman Peter Garrett became a minister in a Labor government but was never a contender for the leadership.”

– Dr Jackie Raphael

“Aside from the fact that USA and Britain have different political systems, they have disparate cultural ideologies that tend to shape voting for their respective national leaders. British celebrity culture is historically dominated by selective consumption of the Royal family and celebrity politicians who are primarily selected for their extensive parliamentary and civic participation. In the case of Donald Trump, his expression of the American ideology of individualism has generated national appeal in a cultural of excess. Let’s face it: he is real estate mogul that reflects and reinforces material acquirement and consumption as key factors in being a ‘better American’ individual. And so is his celebrity – a sensationalized construction of an extraordinary persona that exceeds (or rather circumvents) demonstration of lifelong commitments to duties and responsibilities of citizens, as seen in the UK and most other nations.  In general, as Building Bridges in Celebrity Studies (2016) shows, sensationalism is used for reporting and marketing personas, and America has a history of sensationalism that is part of nation-building in media. From this perspective, Trump demonstrates performance of a ‘national self’ that celebrates key American values of individualism and upward mobility in sensationalised entertainment rather than the civic engagement and horizontal mobility found in the British political system.”

– Dr Samita Nandy

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