By Seana Sperling
November 16, 2004
This country is in love with dirty laundry-true or untrue, from the popularity of Reality TV, to the way the public sucks up the slander the Republicans spread. Weapons of Mass Destruction-We got 'em. Defamation of character is epidemic in the information age. I want my WMD!
Politics-The Republicans have been running negative campaigns for over two decades, but they really showed their teeth in the last year, i.e. attacks on Howard Dean: Innuendo was spread that Dean was really too white-bread to represent all of the US. The insinuation that he was not tolerant of people of color because of his current abode (a mainly W.A.S.P. state), and cabinet choices, really damaged his campaign. This Doctor had formerly lived and practiced in the Bronx. Was this a case of White Flight? Wrong-o, but who is going to argue race issues in an election year?
Attacks on Kerry: In the last days of the Presidential race, some people (I wonder who) posing as Democrats called thousands of middle-American constituents and told them that "A vote for Kerry was a vote for Gay Marriage, so support Gay Marriage by voting for Kerry on November 1." This of course would "Shock and awe," conservative voters into voting against Kerry even though they may have been on the fence. Ah, ethics. I miss ethical behavior. In truth, Kerry supported Civil Unions, but had not taken a supportive stance on Gay Marriage.
In previous years there were attacks on Clinton: DNA evidence on a blue dress titillates the moral majority, but sets their index fingers to wagging. Shame! Shame! Shame! When I saw the reports about the President having it off with some chubby intern, I thought, "Sheesh. Who cares? He certainly was not the first President to commit adultery and this was Hilary's business not ours. Frankly I did not want to hear the sordid and stupid details." My international friends let me know that the rest of the world was laughing at the millions Ken Starr was spending on this investigation.
And linked to politics there is our media and entertainment industry. The lines are getting plenty blurry here. Fox News seems to have evolved into some kind of propaganda machine for the Republican Party, which was evident during the initial days of the Iraq War. (Outfoxed--See what little Rupert has been up to.) They aren't alone in their whitewashing of the US/Bush Administration sins, at home and abroad. Several other so-called news programs are equally culpable. Gossip and propaganda--Ah, it takes me back to those days in the Junior High School cafeteria.
Reality shows. Are we really calling this entertainment? Even though these are somewhat "based on reality," there is heavy staging and editing at all levels-just like say, Fox News. They are producing something people can waggle their little fingers at and the masses are famished. "Bring it on!" Jerry Springer ushered in a lot of this contrived-reality in the 1990's and his show is a good example of how the networks have exploited very personal problems and personality quirks for very large profits. I don't know about you, but I really don't want to see any of these people dancing around a Jacuzzi with a banana in their pants.
The Apprentice with the now famous tagline, "You're fired!" prompts day-after-water cooler talk such as, "She is such a bitch! She'll get hers." or "Can you believe that asshole? He deserved to be fired" In this age of high unemployment prompting a very competitive job market and micromanaging junior executives, do we really need to promote "Idiot-Boss," behavior? We have enough of this behavior with our Commander in Chief. This is a huge indicator that Americans have become very insecure and can only feel better if they are pecking away at another.
Survivor was another show that brought out the absolute best in people--contestants as well as viewers. This program tested people's physical and emotional survival skills and allowed its participants to vote people off the island. Am I back in High School gym class? The competition and petty popularity games that ensued probably damaged some people for life and I'm talking about the winners. I am no innocent. Even though I hate reality TV, I have recently gotten sucked into The Surreal Life, which is really the same thing even though its' cast consists of famous/infamous people. Sheesh!
The networks really prosper from this type of programming. They have free actors (relatively) therefore a low overhead, and the story ideas and dialogue blossom from the cast. Insert some alpha personalities, edit, swizzle and Voila-Instant Drama on a budget! They have no union contract worries and since the public is so hungry, they can sell plenty of commercial airtime. The Actors Union is probably not too keen on this type of programming for obvious reasons. Real Actors want jobs. And, I want storylines in my entertainment pabulum.
Give me back my Real Fiction!