Clint Eastwood, Fred Thompson and, most famously, Arnold Schwarzenegger are all examples of Hollywood hotshots who later became mayors, congressmen and governors.
Some people argue that these career-switching celebrities make a mockery of the political system (as if it needed any help being made a mockery of.) But at least these celebrities aren't just playing politician: They did genuinely stand for election, they won the popular support and sat in office, doing the job for real.
This is a the complete opposite of the situation in Great Britain, in which celebrities only rarely venture into real politics - Sebastian Coe and Martin Bell are the only two I can think of that met with any legitimate success.
What we have instead is something far more insidious - the celebrity turned pundit.
This election in particular has seen the British media pander to a pantheon of politically-inclined stars and celebs; demanding their opinion on the upcoming election without any regard as to whether or not they have the slightest clue what they're talking about.
Now, don't get me wrong - we're all entitled to our opinions. After all, I'm sitting here pontificating about the election on my blog and all I've got to 'qualify' me is an A-Level in Government and Politics. I don't resent celebrities having opinions about politics - I just resent them being the lion's share of the punditry presented by the British media.
Armando Iannucci, the so-called 'hardman of political satire', demonstrated this trend in a recent editorial for The Independent. He recounts being called to the BBC 'election barge' to take part in political debate, only to find himself "greeted with the site of a hundred celebrities and swanky public figures" and the unsettling realisation that he was "regarded as one of them."
I'd been promised proper debate, but instead stood next to Joan Collins while the thrice-divorced star of "The Stud" and "The Bitch" praised Cameron's family values.Brits can be an awfully snobby lot, and often like to look across the Pond to the United States and scoff about what a backwards lot they are. When it comes to politics, though, I argue that average Americans are generally a much more politically savvy lot.
Take this trend towards celebrity punditry, for example. When yanks try it - like verbose Hollywood veterans Alec Baldwin and Kevin Spacey, they're almost universally dismissed as the know-nothing blowhards they arguably are.
But in Britain, it's self-important luvvies who actually headline supposedly 'political' shows, even on state-funded institutions like the venerable BBC.
Perhaps that's indicative of just how shallow and inconsequential British politics has become.