Whether or not you agree with it, celebrities and politics go hand-in-hand. Politicians frequently seek the approval of notable names to help influence public opinion. However, not all celebrities are content with endorsements. Here are 15 famous figures who are known for making a political stir!
Actor/director Clint Eastwood has always been a very political celebrity. The man was among Hollywood’s rabble to criticize Nixon during the Watergate scandal and the latter part of the Vietnam war. Over the course of his career, he has made several detours into politics—he served as mayor of Carmel-by-the-Sea, California and has served on California Film Commission. Last year, he lit a wildfire of controversy by both sounding his support for gay marriage (despite his sympathies toward the Republican party) and for doing a comedy bit mocking President Obama at the Republican National Committee. Of the latter, Eastwood commented “The Democrats who were watching thought I was going senile and the Republicans knew I was.”
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In a December 2012 interview with Playboy, Matt Damon stirred public dialogue when he announced he was done with politics. Though the actor showed his support for Barack Obama during the 2008 election, he has leveled criticism at the president for not achieving long-term change. The Bourne Identity star is quoted as saying “a one-term president with some balls who actually got stuff done would have been, in the long run of the country, much better.”
Kanye West has never shied away from expressing his politics, in-studio, onstage or off. Among his musical interludes was the recent rhyme “I’m just trying to protect my stacks / Mitt Romney don’t pay no tax” (from “To The World” featuring R. Kelly). Of course, the rhyme was less shocking when compared to his on-air Concert For Katrina declaration that “George Bush hates black people,” a comment for which he has since apologized (Bush accepted it, by the way).
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Rapper Young Jeezy took his gangster style and traded it for more topical subject matter for his third album, The Recession. The 2008 record discussed the war in Iraq, showed support for President Barack Obama, and examined the dwindling global economy. Though not without controversy, The Recession peaked at number one on the Billboard Top 200.
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“Cat Scratch Fever” rocker Ted Nugent is a living lightning rod of controversial conservative politics. He’s an outspoken anti-drug and alcohol advocate, serves a member of the NRA board of directors, and has gone toe-to-toe with left wing groups like PETA and The Fund For Animals. He’s also expressed his distaste with current President Barack Obama. Rather than simply endorsing Romney, “The Nuge” added “If Barack Obama becomes the president in November, again, I will either be dead or in jail by this time next year.” This prompted an unexpected visit from the Secret Service to probe the meaning of these remarks.
Oliver Stone has been rattling the sabre of his own personal, some would say extremist, politics since he began work as a screenwriter. Aside from positing conspiratorial cover-ups (in JFK), examining civil wars (in Salvador), and depicting a president’s fall from grace while he was still in office (in W. and Nixon), Stone has made several offscreen remarks that caused great controversy. Among his most shocking statements were complaints made last year about the number of “Jew dominated” industries in the United States (specifically Hollywood). He also expressed umbrage with the film industry’s obsession with the Holocaust. He would later publicly apologize on both counts.
Rage Against The Machine
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Rap-metal pioneers Rage Against The Machine have always been a politically oriented group. They are vocal supporters of the Mexican guerrilla group Zapatista Army of National Liberation, shot a video for “Sleep Now In The Fire” that closed the doors of the New York Stock exchange in 1999, and have protested the two-party election system via free concerts outside Republican and Democratic National Conventions. Despite their anti-capitalist attitude, the group has been criticized for profiteering on their music under the label of a mega-conglomerate (Sony).
The Dixie Chicks
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In 2003, The Dixie Chicks became unlikely political protestors at a concert in England. There the group expressed their distaste for the war in Iraq, adding “we’re ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas.” The remark sparked a great deal of criticism and protest. They were shunned by the mostly conservative country music industry and feuded with blue collar star Toby Keith. While the group would be ignored by the American Country Music awards that year, they would later take home three Grammys. The trio would cite the “rock n’ roll family” of musicians within the recording industry as their chief supporters during this time.
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Former American Pie actor and current Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles voice Jason Biggs made some of the most controversial political tweets of last year. The actor’s live-Tweet of the Republican National Convention turned into a very vulgar roast of conservatives, Christianity, and the party’s political leaders. To quell the public uproar Biggs would end the night by Tweeting “To everyone freaking out about my tweets: you know I put my d— in a pie, right?”
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Though he’s best known to mainstream audiences as the villain from the Alvin and the Chipmunks movies, David Cross is known to stand-up fans a politically polarizing comedian. His act blends liberal political satire with a frequently confrontational delivery that attacks conservative politics, religion, and right-wing good old boy comedians like Larry The Cable Guy. Cross’ most recent political controversy came in 2012 Playboy interview when he admitted to snorting coke at the 2009 White House Correspondents Dinner. His reason? “Just to do coke in the same room as the President.”
Nicki Minaj wasn’t known for getting overtly political when she surprised everyone with an endorsement for Mitt Romney. The rhyme “I’m a Republican voting for Mitt Romney/You lazy b—-es is f—ing up the economy” was made on the song “Mercy” from Lil Wayne’s Dedication 4 mixtape. It garnered so much controversy that even Barack Obama would comment, “[Minaj] likes to play different characters… I don’t know what’s going on there.” Minaj later clarified the statement by calling it a bit of sarcasm, which, in turn, garnered the ire of many Republicans who didn’t find much humorous about it.
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Larry Flynt, creator of the pornographic magazine Hustler, has described himself as a “smut peddler who cares.” Flynt has always been politically outspoken, dating back to the assassination of John F. Kennedy when, critical of the Warren Commission, he offered a $1 million reward to the person who capture the president’s “true” assassin. During President Bill Clinton’s impeachment proceedings, Flynt offered $1 million to those who would expose conservative sex scandals and publish them within the pages of Hustler. This led to the resignation of House Speaker Bob Livingston. In 2012, Flynt would attempt to expose Mitt Romney’s tax information by offering a $1 million bounty on the candidate’s unreleased returns.
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Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine showed his true political colors via Twitter. After taking a few pot shots at Republican Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan, the singer would announce that he was, in fact, an Independent (albeit one who enjoyed insulting the Republican Party). The teasing took a bit more of a serious turn in 2011, when Levine Tweeted to Fox News an ultimatum. The not-so-subtle statement called for Fox to never play one of the band’s songs on their “evil f—ing channel” ever again.
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Golden Globe nominated actress Ellen Barkin has often used Twitter as a platform to spread her left-leaning political beliefs. The actress has frequently angered the public with inflammatory comments about Mormons, right wingers, and even Andrew Breitbart following his death. Among the most controversial posts the actress has made was a Retweet of a follower who called to “Wash every pro-life, anti-education, anti-woman, xenophobic, gay-bashing, racist SOB right into the ocean!” The backlash was worsened when Barkin further lashed out at critics.
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Along with fellow Gen-X comedian David Cross, Janeane Garofalo is known for her left leaning, political humor, albeit one laced with a feminist perspective. Garofalo was among the first celebrities to rail against the war in Iraq and predicted that no weapons of mass destruction would be found. Despite the latter assumption being affirmed, Garofalo has garnered a great deal of criticism for attacking the tea party while showing support for Scientology sponsored organizations.