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It’s a jungle out there in British politics. You never know when someone you just fired will turn around and tell you that, even if they regret saying it, you’re actually a coward and a failure who betrayed the nation and is under ” “magical thinking” suffers.
But not everyone seems to mind the jungle: some politicians even enter it voluntarily and knowingly. Yes, I’m actually talking about Brexit Party leader and later TV news presenter Nigel Farage, who joined Britney Spears’ sister Jamie Lynn in Australia on Sunday for the start of the 23rd season of “I’m a Celebrity.” . . Get me out of here!
Farage – who is rumored to earn a record-breaking and nausea-inducing fee of £1.5million – confirmed his appearance through a video posted on social media in which he pretends to receive a call from the show’s producers and tells them , that the timing was bad before saying, “‘How much? Good sir! Well, see you in the jungle!”
At least he’s honest. When Tory MP and former health secretary Matt Hancock appeared on the show last year – receiving less than a quarter of Farage’s fee, poor boy – he claimed he was doing it to “raise the profile and help my dyslexia campaign.” “. “Every dyslexic child can achieve their potential” and he will make various charitable donations. Hancock ended up donating about three percent of his income and later said when questioned about it, “I didn’t do it primarily for the money. I did it mostly to show who I really am.”
Farage is actually the eighth politician to enter the jungle for the show. After all, we live in a time in which public life is permeated by celebrity culture and in which the boundaries between entertainment and politics are increasingly blurred. It’s not just I’m A Celeb that offers you the chance to make big money while reinventing yourself as an ordinary man or woman of the people. If you don’t feel like chewing on a kangaroo’s testicles on live TV, you can always dress up as a Spice Girl on Strictly, land a presenting spot on GB News or, if all else fails, start your own podcast.
But while the path from politician to Z-list celebrity is increasingly well-trodden in Britain, in America it tends to run in the opposite direction. There it is not the politicians who are desperate to become celebrities, but the celebrities who are desperate to become politicians. Donald Trump went from Apprentice to the White House; Arnold Schwarzenegger walked from the Terminator to the California State Capitol. Rapper Kanye West, former Olympian and reality star Caitlyn Jenner, and actress Cynthia Nixon have all made failed attempts to enter politics in recent years. Our performative, media-obsessed culture must share responsibility for both phenomena.
The path from A-lister to public official has been established in America for several decades – Ronald Reagan was an actor before becoming governor of California and ultimately US president; Five-time Oscar winner Clint Eastwood was mayor of a city in California for several years – but in recent years the city has become increasingly popular.
So why does it work differently on both sides of the Atlantic? One reason for this is that presidential systems lend themselves more easily to the cult of personality – you see this not only in the US, but also in places like Ukraine, where a former comedian is now president, and Guatemala, where another was president until 2020.
As John Street, a professor of politics at the University of East Anglia, tells me, we have a stronger party system in the UK. “Representatives of that party must be chosen, they must show loyalty to one party, and they must be disciplined by one party,” Street said. “In the states, the Democratic and Republican parties are relatively weak, and therefore politicians are more able to speak for themselves and pursue policies that have only vaguely to do with a party ideology.”
One only has to look at the way leaders and politicians are culturally portrayed to find another obvious reason: while Brits laugh at the clumsy and bumbling politicians in TV comedies like The Thick of It and Yes Minister , depictions of American politics only exude so much glitz and glamor – think of the presidential heroes in “The West Wing” or “Air Force One.”
Here’s a test: Do you know the name of the plane the British Prime Minister flies on? I bet you don’t. (Usually it’s an RAF Voyager shared with the royal family.) Air Force One, on the other hand, must surely be one of the best brand names on the planet, having inspired Nike’s most popular sneaker of all time and conjuring up images of a powerful and prestigious POTUS ( another great brand name).
In 2006, a Gallup poll found that Britain and America had the highest levels of trust in their respective governments among G7 countries; in 2022 they were lowest. I’m not sure which type of “celebration” is worse. But I am sure that both show how much politics has become devalued and completely dubious.