YOUTH MAY be wasted on the young, as the Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw George Bernard Shaw put it. But Hollywood is not wasting an opportunity to encourage America’s youth to play a pivotal role in the upcoming presidential election.
With fewer than three weeks left until election day, members of the entertainment industry are turning to saucy and provocative new tactics. (What else could you expect from the industry that brought us the game show “Bingo America”?)
Industry politicos and the groups they support hope to engage novice voters with information and spectacle, handing out politically oriented comic books, producing viral videos, holding concerts, parties and comedy shows. Longtime activists such as Norman Lear are pointing out easy ways to register to vote online and, in some rare cases, industry gatekeepers are offering young political participants the most treasured perk of all -- face time with a celebrity or two.
Here’s a quick rundown of the (nonpartisan and partisan) happenings:
* Rock the Vote this week unveiled a public-service ad featuring “Entourage’s” Adrian Grenier. The ad will be played through Comcast’s ad distribution network, YouTube, Facebook, MySpace and various e-mail lists. Directed by Matthew Welch at Savant Films, the video shows Grenier as an investigator questioning a suspect (also played by Grenier).
The dialogue goes like this: “I know you’re looking at four to eight, you don’t think you matter? What you do doesn’t make a difference? I got to tell you, I’m a little scared. I know you can get the information if you want to. In this environment, keep sitting there. We all lose. . . . I know you didn’t ask for this. We inherited this mess. So what are you going to do about it?”
The suspect answers: “I’m going to vote.”
Rock the Vote also has set up an online “Election Center” at www.rockthevote.com /election to provide voting information.
* The liberal website Move On.org this week produced a 30-second television commercial featuring Penn Badgley and Blake Lively, two of the stars of the hit series “Gossip Girl.” The spot parodies a drug-prevention ad. But instead of exposing the evils of drugs, Badgley and a cast of other young actors warn parents about the consequences of voting for Sen. John McCain.
Directed by Doug Liman (“The Bourne Identity”), the spot starts with Badgley saying: “Mom? Dad? I found this in your room.” He holds up a “Drill Baby Drill!” hat. Then a montage of actors asks: “Are you thinking about voting for John McCain? . . . Just because other people your age are doing it doesn’t make it cool. . . . You say it’s harmless, it’s ‘just one vote.’ ”
The 30-second commercial ends with Lively saying: “If you’re ever out somewhere and you’re considering voting McCain, just call me, and I’ll pick you up. No questions asked.”
* The nonpartisan Hip-Hop Caucus took its show on the road -- via bus -- this week to urge university students in urban areas to register to vote. Among those participating in the tour -- which they’re calling “Respect My Vote!” -- are T.I., Jay Z, Russell Simmons, Keyshia Cole and T-Pain.
They’ll be at George Mason University in Virginia on Sunday, Kent State University in Ohio on Monday, Ohio State on Wednesday, Virginia State on Thursday and Norfolk (Virginia) State University on Oct. 25. The tour ends in the battleground states of Ohio and Michigan on Nov. 4.
Silverman zeros in on Florida
Sarah Silverman, the rosy-cheeked comedian with a mouth like a drunken oil worker, has been urging young Jewish voters to “schlep” to Florida to convince their retired grandparents (“Nana and Papa,” as she describes them) to vote for Barack Obama.
In an Internet video, which the comedian calls “The Great Schlep,” Silverman suggests older Jews may be reluctant to vote for a younger black man with a “Muslim"-sounding name. But she points out that Jews and blacks have a lot in common, such as an affinity for track suits and Cadillacs.
When she sent out that suggestion on her website, she got a huge response. But getting that crowd to actually go to Florida has been tougher -- only about 100 or so have heeded the call. Which might raise a familiar lament by Nana and Papa: “So, you never visit . . . .”