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November 8, 2010

Pat Sajak - how politics and celebrity should meet

In Saturday's post about Ricochet, I mentioned that Pat Sajak was a contributor to the site. Even before that, I had read a few articles by him, but not a whole lot.

I remembered vaguely that I had heard that he was a Conservative, but I had never really thought about it before.

Instead, I just knew him from Wheel of Fortune. He's been hosting that show since 1981, and to most people that's all he is: a game show host. Very innocuous, kind of dweebish, actually. I had never really thought much of him. I don't like the show (though I sometimes stop when I'm channel-surfing to see if I can solve the current puzzle), but I thought "it's nice that he's had a job for so long."

But then I read a political article by him, and I was floored.

This man is thoughtful, witty, and an excellent writer! I've heard him on the Ricochet podcast, and he's intelligent, bringing a lot of cogent political commentary to the podcast. He's the author of the wonderful post-election Ricochet post "How to Communicate Legislative Successes in 140 Characters or Less" (because Obama is still saying that the problem was messaging, not the actual message).

And you wouldn't know any of this if you just watched Wheel of Fortune.

The first time Pat came on the Ricochet podcast, he talked about this. He keeps his celebrity persona and his political/personal one completely separate. He doesn't try to inject politics into Wheel of Fortune or anything else he does like that. When he's got his "pundit" hat on, he doesn't trade on his celebrity in order to make it heard more. He may appear on Fox News (I don't know if he ever has, though), but it would be as a Conservative pundit, not because he hosts a popular and seemingly ageless game show.

They are both separate spheres, never the twain shall meet.

That's something I love about him.

I wish more celebrities were like this. Sure, express your opinion if you want. You're an American, you have every right. But keep in mind the venue. Make sure it's appropriate. If you're a singer and I'm at one of your concerts, I don't want to hear about your political views. Just shut up and sing!

You want to be a regular contributor to the Huffington Post? More power to you. Get your views out there.

But don't expect us to pay attention to you just because you're a celebrity. Being a celebrity doesn't give your words any more weight than if I said them. They might get more attention, but they're not any more important.

You know who the perfect celebrity is? The one who, if I just follow that person's movies or singing career, I have no idea what that person believes. If I want to dig deeper, or if I'm into the whole political thing, then I'm pleasantly (or unpleasantly) surprised when I stumble upon their political views.

Somebody like Sajak.

Let the choice be mine. And let me enjoy your work without all of the baggage behind it.


  1. Well said, Dave! I had no idea Pat Sajak was so brilliant, but it's always refreshing when a celebrity doesn't try to use their fame as a political platform.

  2. Take a look at his post today:

    I wish I could write like that. :)

  3. Hmmmm, I'm of two minds about this. I think it would be weird in the context of _Wheel of Fortune_ (which is pretty apolitical) to let one's political views show.

    At the same time, there are plenty of media - films, music, and tv - where it would be difficult not to. For example, music where the music is actually *about* politics. (I'm a fan of the Indigo Girls and some of their music is pretty political. I do enjoy going to their concerts with my husband and being one of the only straight women there, too, lol.)

    It's never bothered me to hear Charlton Heston or Bo Derek or Susan Sarandon or Sean Penn express their views. It's true that they don't (and shouldn't) have more say than you or I; they're just famous and everything they do is therefore amplified. And I kind of like knowing.

    But that is me. To each their own!

  4. I think it's a different thing if the music *itself* is political. If you go to an Indigo Girls concert without expecting political commentary, that's insane.

    But a Brian Adams concert? (just pulling an example out of the air, not saying that he does this).

    Maybe my tolerance threshold for this is lower than yours. :)


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