So the internet was abuzz last night with the news that actor/activist George Takei was running for Congress. According to an interview in The Daily Buzz, Takei and husband Brad had allegedly purchased a home in the quaint California town of Visalia for the sole purpose of running for Congress in that heavily Republican district.
“With what is going on now in the country, I couldn’t stand by any longer merely as a citizen,” Takei apparently said. “I knew I had to take a bigger stand. So that’s why I’m running for Congress. My hope is to challenge Davin Nunes for his seat in 2018.”
— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) April 1, 2017
Surprisingly, a lot of people, including legit media outlets, picked up on this story as “fact” without apparently doing any follow-up to verify (though some outlets like Hollywood Reporter questioned if it was indeed an April Fool’s joke).
I say “surprisingly” because the story as reported should have raised immediate eyebrows.
For starters, the news was posted the day before April Fool’s Day and Takei has a history of very public, media-oriented April Fool’s pranks including past announcements that he would appear in a STAR WARS film to last year’s prank where he revealed he’d be starring in a new Lifetime series with Cloris Leachman (and if that wasn’t enough of a hint, that news was also “broken” by The Daily Buzz the same publication that “broke” yesterday’s news).
If that weren’t enough, the actual details of the story are pretty ridiculous: for one thing, Takei is turning 80 and that’s usually not the age that most people decide to run for political office. And the idea that he would’ve created this elaborate plan to spends lots of money to purchase property in the middle of nowhere solely to run against a Congressman who, until two weeks ago, no one really gave a fuck about was stretching it.
But putting aside the fact that many seemed to be so easily fooled, there are two other points about this “prank” that I find more problematic.
Firstly, why were so many people excited about this news to begin with? Look, I know we’re all grasping for any straws with this shit show of a President in office and Takei has been one of the most vocal resistors of the administration and God bless him for that, but do we really want another celebrity holding political office on the national level? Haven’t we gone down this road before and it’s almost never turned out well? Again, case in point:
I think Takei is doing a great job fighting the administration and its fucked up policies from the OUTSIDE. That’s where he’s been the most effective and, I believe, will continue to be most effective.
Or let me distill my argument in a simple statement that I don’t think will be misunderstood: if you’re a “celebrity” thinking of running for office, fuck you and don’t do it!
But again, I get it, we’re in a desperate place so I understand why we’d want this news to be true and would embrace it despite all evidence to the contrary that if it were true, it probably wouldn’t turn out well. Which brings me to my other point.
All due respect to Takei, but how in the hell did he think this was in any way a good idea for an April Fool’s joke? I understand putting out “fake” news about being cast in projects you’re not a part of or don’t exist–those are “victimless” jokes–but I don’t know if this is the right time to fuck with people about something so important during a period when our democracy and our American values are being threatened in a way they haven’t in a very long time. Basic rights are being stripped away from the Americans who are most vulnerable, the very future of our planet is being sacrificed to placate an industry that employs less people than Arby’s, over 20 million people risk losing their health care, and the President may be in cahoots with Russia to undermine our way of life, and on and on and on…this is some serious, scary shit.
Which makes this next quote from Takei from the “fake” article about his “fake” congressional run feel even more…yucky: “I want to be a champion for all people, but especially those whose voices are not heard often in the halls of Congress. We need to build a majority again in Congress, too, to be a check against the Trump Administration’s excesses, assuming he’s even around by then to keep making horrific mistakes.”
I want that too, Mr. Takei, but not as a publicity-garnering joke.
No, I’m not running for Congress. Happy 4/1!
— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) April 1, 2017