Kal Penn, former White House staff member for the Obama administration and current actor and comedian, believes in driving younger generations to vote so much that he created a show to prove it - “Kal Penn Approves This Message.”
The show’s sole intent is to inform young generations, like Millennials and Generation Z, on why it is critical for them to vote in all elections, local and national, and how young generations can make a difference. It is in collaboration with Freeform’s “Kick 2020 in the Ballots. FF’ing Vote” initiative which is a nonpartisan initiative to influence young people to vote with multiple PSA’s and show segments like Penn’s.
Penn’s show touches on various topics, exploring issues that Generation Z and Millenials are concerned about such as climate change and social justice, and voter empowerment. The show has a comedic spin on it but strives on staying informative about how crucial it is to vote.
“You have to understand that it’s a privilege to be able to go vote,” Penn said in a roundtable interview with college journalists. “I don’t necessarily vote for myself but I vote for the people who can’t vote and maybe don’t have the same privileges as me, such as those who can’t make it to the voting booth or register.”
Georgia has recently been labeled as a battleground state among a dozen other states that could be easily influenced by the amount of younger generations who decide to vote this year, which, in turn, can impact the national election results. These states have razor-thin margins that often rely on certain demographic’s votes to make the final decision or sway to the other side of the political spectrum.
“Georgia’s interesting because you have a lot of conservative faith groups that could show up and solidify a candidate to the right, and you also have progressive youth groups that could solidify the left,” Penn said. “Ideally, everybody shows up together, and you get a bunch of candidates who have to cater to everyone’s beliefs, not just one generation’s.”
Penn focuses his show on educating young people on the importance of voting overall, but he also bases his show around other issues he feels they should know about by bringing in guest speakers, such as Hillary Clinton. The show is nonpartisan, so he chose Clinton as a guest because of her former White House position over her strong progressive beliefs, he said.
In the episode with Clinton, which will premiere on Sept. 29, the two discuss income inequality, jobs, student debt and even life after high school, all topics that relate closely to younger generations who are more prone to experiencing a different form of all of those categories than older generations.
While discussing rather heavy issues that are intended for young generations to take seriously, Penn still keeps the show light and comical with different skits, jokes and animations with generational-related humor.
In the first episode, Penn included an ironic and satirical skit on why “old people shouldn’t be able to vote” which led to young generational representatives disagreeing with the idea.
“I mean, the whole point of this is to expand voting rights,” Sarah Cheung, vice chair of Vote16USA, an initiative to lower the voting age to 16, said in the first episode. “We’re not trying to take away voting rights.”