Go back

APSU professor pens book, 'Hollywood Politicos'

When it comes to political clout, who is more influential – George Clooney or Tom Cruise?

The question, on the surface, may sound a bit silly, but in todays celebrity-obsessed climate, the opinions of a movie star may just trump those held by our esteemed elected officials.

Its an aspect of our culture that has intrigued Greg Rabidoux, assistant professor of political science at Austin Peay State University, for years, and this month, his first book, Hollywood Politicos, Then and Now, will hit bookstores detailing his research.
When it comes to political clout, who is more influential — George Clooney or Tom Cruise?

The question, on the surface, may sound a bit silly, but in today's celebrity-obsessed climate, the opinions of a movie star may just trump those held by our esteemed elected officials.

It's an aspect of our culture that has intrigued Greg Rabidoux, assistant professor of political science at Austin Peay State University, for years, and this month, his first book, “Hollywood Politicos, Then and Now,” will hit bookstores detailing his research.

“People do have a reverence for stars,” he said. “We're celebrity struck in this nation. We consume virtually everything once a celebrity's name goes on it. We're already taken in by the allure and power of their ability to market things and sell things and (politics) is one more product, in a way, they're selling.”

Since arriving at APSU in 2006, Rabidoux has earned a reputation around campus as a lively and interactive professor. He's transferred this engaging teaching style into his writing, crafting a witty discussion on the relationship between Hollywood and Washington, D.C.

“I didn't write it as a textbook,” he said. “I didn't write it as a dry, copious-type landmark book where people go, ‘oh, it's so important, I have to read it but I hate it.' I'm going for much more, ‘Wow, this is fascinating.'”

The book begins with Hollywood's formation as an industry and discusses its early collective political activism, such as its stance against Nazism during the 1930s and 1940s. Later, Rabidoux profiles individual celebrities and their causes, and he develops his own formula to measure a celebrity's impact on the community.

“My message ultimately is, one, celebrities certainly have every right, as anybody else, as a U.S. citizen under the Constitution, to say what they want about whatever issue they want, and you can agree or disagree. The second message is you don't have to be a celebrity to be able to get politically active and make a difference.”

Rabidoux was helped in his four-year effort to research this book by members of the APSU community, particularly from the University's instruction librarian, Christina Chester-Fangman, and students Leslie Crouch and Diana Darks.

The book is available at the APSU bookstore, as well as online at amazon.com, Barnes and Nobles and Target. For more information, contact Rabidoux at 221-7853 or rabidouxg@apsu.edu. -- Charles Booth