Thursday, January 28, 2016

TV doesn't relay a candidate's aptitude for the job

I can't stand primary season.  Attempting to be a conscientious citizen, I try to endure watching a debate but seldom make it through.

Modern television news and debates simply do not provide an accurate picture of a candidate's aptitude for the job of president.

Postman's words from thirty-plus years ago help explain-

"This is the lesson of all great television commercials: They provide a slogan, a symbol or a focus that creates for viewers a comprehensive and compelling image of themselves. In the shift from party politics to television politics, the same goal is sought. We are not permitted to know who is best at being President or Governor or Senator, but whose image is best in touching and soothing the deep reaches of our discontent. We look at the television screen and ask, in the same voracious way as the Queen in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, 'Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest one of all?' We are inclined to vote for those whose personality, family life, and style, as imaged on the screen, give back a better answer than the Queen received. As Xenophanes remarked twenty-five centuries ago, men always make their gods in their own image. But to this, television politics has added a new wrinkle: Those who would be gods refashion themselves into images the viewers would have them be.” - Neil Postman in Amusing Ourselves to Death

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