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Celebrity politics

Star of Donnie Darko visits EC

Alison Pelleymounter

Issue date: 10/28/04 Section: Campus News
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Jake Gyllenhaal speaks to UW-Eau Claire students Wednesday night to gather support for John Kerry and to encourage students to vote.
Media Credit: Sara Norgon
Jake Gyllenhaal speaks to UW-Eau Claire students Wednesday night to gather support for John Kerry and to encourage students to vote.

Nearly 400 people packed Hilltop Center's lounge Wednesday night to see a surrogate for presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry. The vast majority of spectators were young women holding cameras with anxious looks of anticipation on their faces.

These onlookers were not waiting for Rep. Mike Honda, D-Calif., the first Asian-American elected to the House of Representatives who spoke in the same location Tuesday night, or for any politician, for that matter. The women were waiting for Jake Gyllenhaal, an actor best known for his roles in films such as "Bubble Boy," "Donnie Darkow" and "The Day After Tomorrow."

"We were taught not to feel like we have to power to change things as young people."
-Jake Gyllenhaal

Gyllenhaal and a slew of celebrities including Jon Bon Jovi, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kirsten Dunst and Bruce Springsteen are campaigning for the democratic presidential candidate around Wisconsin this week, a move Gyllenhaal said he hopes will encourage young people to get to the polls.

"We were taught not to feel like we have the power to change things as young people," he said. "We have the power to change the president. We need to instill that in people. We can sway this election any way we want to."

Gyllenhaal gave a half-hour speech to the crowd, offering his views on economics: "the rich are getting richer, and the poor are getting poorer," the military: "the issue of the draft is already a serious issue" and the environment, joking that under Kerry, the room wouldn't be as hot due to reversals of global warming.

Freshman Kendra Zueck said she had mixed reasons for attending the event.

"(I attended) partially because I am a supporter of Kerry," she said, "(and), second of all, I've been in love with Jake Gyllenhaal since 'Donnie Darko' came out."

Gyllenhaal said stumping for candidates offers celebrities an outlet for expressing political views, an activitiy those in the public eye are not always allowed to partake in.

"What's interesting about celebrities is that somewhere within some of them, at least, there's a non-partisian part of the work that they do," he said. "I hope that they hopefully have fans from everywhere, and if they take a stance on something, maybe people will hear what they have to say."

Freshman Brett Anderson was in the lounge buying food during the event. He said using celebrities is an ineffective way to get students to vote.

"I think it's useless propaganda ...." Anderson said. "(Celebrities) have power over people that don't know what they're talking about. If they see their favorite actor they're going to go vote for that candidate regardless of whether or not they know what's going on."
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