Posted in: Culture Wars & Censorship
Published on Dec 12, 2007 by Phyllis Chesler
Politics: The Movie.
I protest. Everything is too loud, too fast, too vulgar, too aggressive. POW! BAM! Only celebrities matter. Even our so-called thinkers write the same book over and over again (everything is reduced to branding) and are expected to behave like attack dogs on a short leash.
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I can’t keep up with who is running for the American Presidency. Who can? Today, the campaign for President constitutes a permanent spectacle, a veritable Roman circus. Are ambitious parents already grooming their unborn children in utero with tapes to encourage a future Presidential run? Will children be signed up at birth as future contenders?
Although I understand that this is the way things are, it still seems “over the top” to have Oprah take to the campaign trail for Obama. Stadiums filled with frenzied folk remind me a wee bit of Nazis cheering.
Call me sensitive.
Once, Oprah conducted a love-fest in Madison Square Garden. She (safely) and symbolically removed a woman’s burqa while 18,000 fans cheered. But the girls and women of Afghanistan still live under the Islamist boot.
Are Hollywood stars and television hosts our only and most reliable source of truth? Don’t people understand that these talking heads rely upon writers, that they mainly read someone else’s lines? And that Hollywood is still a suburb of Moscow-on-the-Pacific?
Once, when I was a much younger professor, I happened to mention to my class that my appearance on either Donohue, Oprah, or the Today show (I can no longer remember which program it was) would be broadcast while we would remain together in the classroom. Many of my students wanted to go home in order to “see me.”
“But I’m right here. You can see me and we can also talk to each other.”
Some left anyway. Televised reality was so much larger to them than in-person and interactive reality.
Thus, celebrities are powerful and dangerous influences. They are like dream-figures or Gods. We watch them at home, in bed; they are our Harry Potter magical hearth-figures dancing in our tribal campfire.
And both television and Hollywood have been flirting–they are obsessed with–the American Presidency. Michael Belson in Wag the Dog, Martin Sheen in West Wing, Dennis Haysbert in 24, Michael Douglas in The American President, John Travolta in Primary Colors are as real to most people as are our real got-the-finger-on-the-nuclear-button Presidents.
As to the really real Presidency: The contenders are hardly impressive. Yes, it would be momentarily thrilling to elect the first woman or the first African-American as President but honestly, at the end of the day, I care more about a president’s agenda than about his or her gender. A president’s skin-color (or sexual preference) should only matter in a Hollywood movie, not in reality.
What a pity. These lines are blurred and people increasingly prefer escape entertainment to reality. Presidential contenders and their campaigns are judged as if they were contestants on American Idol.
May God bless America and our precious, shrinking planet.
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