I could not bear another quirky intrusive “VOTE” prompt on my insta grid. I had had it up to here with the brightly colored reprimands about the importance of voting from instagram models and celebrities I didn't even know I was following.
Obviously I do believe voting is important; I believe in democracy. I also know that this election is historical for a number of reasons. But, in a true Carrie Bradshaw manner, I couldn't help but wonder whether these urgings were progressive and helpful, or counterproductive in some way. Because something that I noticed, which also startled me, was that Instagram users with big followings would draw attention to the importance of voting through booty pics, tits and “hotness”. I get that these might be the things that “get the people going”, but it makes me sick to think that one of the most powerful countries in the world is driven by showbiz and sex to this extent.
My first example is from October, one month prior to the ominous election. Tana Mongeau, a youtuber with 5.5 million subscribers who infamously got married to Jake Paul in july of 2019, launched an initiative called "Booty for Biden”. "If you send me proof you voted for Biden, I'll send you a nude for free," she tweeted. In an instagram post Mongeau wrote “#bootyforbiden broke tana uncensored (her onlyfans). love to see so many ppl who want change as badly as i do”. The intention of the project was, in other words, successful. However, TMZ later reported that Mongeau lost her YouTube verification, and one reason might have been the launch of Booty for Biden - since offering anything in exchange for votes is an electoral crime.
In a less chaotic manner, a bunch of older, less relevant, celebrities, decided to get unclothed to protect american democracy. Sara Silverman, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Rock, Amy Schumer and Tiffany Haddish were a few of the celebs who stripped to raise awareness while explaining the concept of so-called naked ballots. The organisation behind this sexy campaign is called RepresentUs. “You can be naked, but your ballots cannot”. These celebrities are, strangely enough, not the only ones who look to nudity or sexiness in order to make people perform their civil rights and obligations.
On October 14 Hailey Beiber posed in a t-shirt from denimcratic.com. The shirt says “voting is hot”. The 23 year old Calvin Klein model emphasizes this weird message by captioning the photo “the coolest, hottest, most attractive thing you can do is vote.” I don't know why, but my thoughts immediately wandered off to the shirt Paris Hilton wore in 2005 that said “Stop being desperate”.
Kylie Jenner also posted for the polls - in case you had not yet been convinced to participate in our democracy. “But are you registered to vote?... let's make a plan to vote together.” she wrote next to a picture of herself chilling poolside at her mega mansion. Her older sister Kendall has also been vocal about the importance of voting. At her big controversial birthday bash just a couple of weeks ago she dressed up as Pamela Andersen and urged her 142 Million followers to vote.
I get the sentiment, I really do, but there is just something that doesn't feel right to me. A bunch of skinny, conventionally attractive women scream out platitudes about voting whilst also cementing sexy ideals. The sexy ideals I’m talking about are the societal ideas that tell women that sexy is important, attractiveness is key and that beauty and perceived hotness are part of femininity. It just feels sort of counterproductive to have these people talk about women's rights, whilst feeding us images and messages like these.
But I guess I have to quote Childish Gambino: This is America. Sex sells and show business will always conquer. Hell, the guy who is sitting in the White house as I write began as a reality show host who cheated on his wife publicly. In the book Amusing Ourselves to Death the author, Neil
Postman, brings attention to this exact dilemma - American politics has become an extension of showbiz. I fear a slow transition into some form of Berlusconi-esque nightmare where sex, nudity and populism are the only things that gets people voting, instead of real politics.
I read somewhere that more people actually did vote this year; that America experienced a record high number of voters. (Yet an incredibly low number compared to for example Sweden or Belgium.) Maybe I owe Hailey a thank you, perhaps a large number of people did go to the polls in fear of not being considered hot.
Just a disclaimer; I would like to point out that I do not shame these people. I get that they are doing everything they know and can. It just saddens me that one of the biggest, most impactful and richest countries in the world relies on sexiness when they are electing a new president. Thats, like, not hot.
- Olivia Brask