In (Partial) Defense of Rock the Vote's Nonvoters

Plus a drinking game.


Last month a bunch of celebrities appeared in an unwatchably bad PSA for Rock the Vote, the record industry's love child with the Democratic Party. The point of the video is that viewers should participate in this year's midterm elections, but The Washington Post now reports that at least five of the clip's stars—Lena Dunham, Whoopi Goldberg, Natasha Lyonne, E.J. Johnson, and Darren Criss—did not cast ballots in the last midterms.

For this the celebs are being damned as hypocrites. But really, it's perfectly rational to urge large blocs of people to vote while not bothering to do it yourself. Casting one ballot isn't likely to affect the outcome of any major election. Getting a bunch of your fans to the polls, on the other hand, might actually have an impact. If the stars have failed as activists, it isn't because they don't always vote; it's because their video is more likely to inspire a wave of seppuku deaths than a great march to the polling stations.

The PSA is embedded below. Here's a great drinking game: Try to watch it to the end, then tally up how much liquor you downed in a desperate effort to blot out what you were seeing. The record was set by Mrs. Bettina Leach of Albany, New York, who passed out halfway through the three-and-a-half-minute ad. When she came to a few hours later, she was surrounded by seven empty bottles of rum, a half-empty flask of rye, and—this is the scary part—an "I Voted" sticker. (*)

(* Full disclosure: That story is not actually true.)