Lady Gaga is my diplomat.

Joseph Nye talks about soft power as getting someone to WANT to do what you want them to… and in the PD 2.0 speech by Glass man, came this interesting tidbit:

“But in this new world of communications, any government that resists new Internet techniques faces a greater risk: being ignored. Our major target audiences – especially the young – don’t want to listen to us lecture them or tell them what to think or how wonderful we are.”

So here is my question: What about celebrities?  What role do they play in winning the public diplomacy game?  They have long been used as spokespeople, and as goodwill ambassadors to the U.N.   Within the United States we see Arnold Schwarzenegger and a whole slew of other celebrities in (kind of hilarious) ads trying to get us to like (and visit California.)  How do you think celebrities are playing into all of this?  Does the US government  need to be investing in Lady Gaga?  Should we be subtly promoting superstars who embody American values?

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3 Responses to Lady Gaga is my diplomat.

  1. Mariam S. says:

    It depends on which celebrity you have in mind when you propose this. I’m thinking Angelina Jolie (current version, not circa Billy Bob Thornton), and how she is a successful ambassador for the UNHCR. But, in general, I don’t think the image that celebrities cultivate for themselves is necessarily congruent with what we want representing the whole country.

    You alluded to the fact that being ignored is like death in the publicity game. This is where the notion of celebrities as vehicles of public diplomacy gets dicey. We have seen the sex taped, crotch-flashing means they will go to to remain present, because everyone knows a la Mean Girls, that the only thing worse than people talking about you behind your back, is people not talking about you at all. For celebrities, as a commodity, any publicity is good publicity. This is not true for countries.

    One more thought, that perhaps undermines the question in the first place: whether the government promotes them or not, these superstarts are visible worldwide and aren’t they already sending messages about their respective countries, positive and negative? ahem, Amy Winehouse.

  2. Manith says:

    I would suggest reading “Celebrity Diplomacy”by Andrew Cooper….or watching a lot of anime….

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