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Image / Editorial

It’s Cynthia Nixon, not Miranda Hobbes, who is running for governor of New York


by Erin Lindsay
20th Mar 2018
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Cynthia Nixon is running for governor of New York. She joins a long list of celebrities who have either indicated their interest in running for a government position or have fully thrown themselves into the political arena, including Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jerry Springer and of course, president Trump.

The past two years have been full of debate over how involved celebrities should be in politics, if at all. As Donald Trump ran for the US presidency, many discounted him as a legitimate rival for Hillary Clinton, who had years of political experience compared to Trump’s relative none. But he won the election, and it became clear that the public desired something other than the typical politician that had been presented to them election after election.

Trump’s victory illustrated something that people have been saying for years; nobody trusts politicians. They’re “two-faced”, they’re “snakelike”, they’re “crooked” – the stereotypes go on for days, and the general consensus is that they are not well-liked. Celebrities, on the other hand, are the opposite. They’re inoffensively entertaining and we get joy from finding out that they’re “just like us”, as opposed to the irritation we feel at the politicians who pretend that they are. Celebrities getting involved in government shake up the stereotype of a politician.

Take Cynthia Nixon; for many people, their support lies in the fact that she has been a long-time advocate for LGBTQ+ rights, women’s healthcare and education reform. But we’re betting that lots of her supporters will be imagining her Sex and the City character Miranda, the successful, straight-talking voice of reason, in a government position. For fans of the show, the idea of Miranda Hobbes as governor of New York is probably heaven. But Nixon is not Miranda, and it’s a shame to have her reduced to a fictional character who, for all we know, is nothing at all like her actual personality.

This does not mean that Nixon shouldn’t exercise her right, or even her duty, to get involved in politics at a larger level. We live in an age where every person with a platform, whether they be an actor, musician or social media star, is using it to speak out on political and social issues. Activism is almost expected of today’s celebrities, and those who don’t speak out are often criticised for their silence on important subjects, from Black Lives Matter to #TimesUp. More and more, the lines between societal roles are blurred.

On a broader level, it’s a big deal for someone like Cynthia Nixon to run for governor. If she wins, not only will she be the first female governor of New York, she will also be the first member of the LGBTQ+ community to hold the position. This would mark a huge step forward in the fight for equal rights in New York and may even spark a domino effect in other government bodies, encouraging more female and LGBTQ+ people to get involved.

Also, from a feminist viewpoint, it’s heartening to see an actress from one of the best-loved female sitcoms of all time get involved in her state’s politics. Sex and the City was seen for a long time as nothing more than a superficial girly TV show that only dealt with sex, fashion and martinis. We see now that women can be interested in both clothes and social issues, the Kardashians and North Korea. Cynthia Nixon running for governor is a wonderful manifestation of this shift in attitudes.

So many celebrities who get involved with politics are met with vitriol; take our own nationwide hatred of Bono as an example. The response to Nixon’s announcement, however, has been largely positive. Maybe this signifies that people are ready to embrace celebrity culture permeating into other areas of our lives. In a statement to Glamour, Nixon herself said: “The election of Donald Trump was a wake-up call for women across the country. We’ve realized that if we want real progressive change, we’re going to have to step up and do it ourselves.” So, why can’t she step up? In the immortal words of Miranda Hobbs: “I want to enjoy my success, not apologise for it”.