‘Just like us’: Politicians, celebrity and the politics of normality

Politicians have always tried to improve their public image by associating themselves with famous celebrities as a way of connecting with the public.

Tony Blair famously invited Noel Gallagher to Downing Street, while Barack Obama received an endorsement from Kanye West.

By associating themselves with the glamorous world of culture and arts, politicians hope some of the glitter will rub off on them and they will be better in touch with the ‘common man’ (and woman).

Recently though, politicians have increasingly attempted to engage with the public by appearing more down to earth and accessible, associating themselves with everyday popular culture, from popular foods to new technologies

Often, politicians from traditional political parties have found this quite difficult. Think of Ed Miliband failing to eat a bacon sandwich or Nick Clegg’s cringe-worthy ‘apology’ video on Youtube.

On the other hand, politicians from non-mainstream populist politicians have found it easier. In the UK Nigel Farage successfully posed as the everyday Englishman down the pub with a pint, while in the US Tea Party politicians were very successful in associating themselves with ideas of traditional American culture.

Project details:

In this project we ask:

How do politicians become successful by presenting themselves as ‘normal’ people?

Why are some politicians more successful than others?

Is it just down to their background or previous job, or how they look or sound?

Can politicians ever live normal lives like the rest of us?

What does it mean to be ‘normal’, and is there any such thing as ‘normal’ anyway?

Politicians attempt to engage with the public by appearing down to earth and accessible, associating themselves with everyday popular culture, from popular foods to new technologies

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