Thursday, March 21, 2013

American President

from USA Today, Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2011
(the above image is from the print version;
read the full text of the article online here)


  1. I think this article reaffirms Postman's argument that entertainment and television commercials have altered our individual self-interest. All one has to do is think about the post-debate coverage from the recent presidential elections. The commentators spent more time discussing the demeanor of the candidates than they did discussing the issues. Thus the candidates primary responsibility in debates seems to be to charm or please the viewers, rather than critically discuss important societal issues. This point was discussed in class and in the documentary. When the public discourse takes the form of television commercials or fragmented debates, the discourse cannot foster comprehensive issues like foreign policy or the environment. Therefore the content of our public discourse is predominantly geared toward satisfying our individual interest.

  2. I agree with Derek. I think this article covers exactly what Postman was talking about. After each Presidential debate last fall I was pretty shocked with the analysis. They glossed over the content and talked more about who was on the attack, who had momentum, and how they could prepare for the next one. If you looked away and just listened, you'd think they were talking about a boxing match on ESPN or something.

    Debates on TV have turned into something like American Idol, the Voice, Dancing with the Stars, and the other competition shows that, interestingly, require VOTES from the American people. It certainly doesn't seem to be a coincidence for debates to be aiming for glitz and showmanship over content - American Idol generates millions of viewers each time its on. Entertainment and Politics certainly have mixed together, even more so now than in Postman's time, it would seem.

  3. The absolute one thing I despise is how our culture is trying to push for the outward appearance of the candidates rather than the intellectual parts of them. I agree with what has already been said by the others above me. There is no talk about the actual fundamental issues. It was about momentum. It was about what they did while they weren't talking. The talk was about how Mitt Romney's single hair strand had moved out of place. And Tom is right with his ESPN reference.

  4. I really don't like how candidates play up the celebrity role. I understand that it's a way for them to "reach out to the public" but come on. I think with our political figures going on Late Night shows and trying to be comedic and personable - yes, it's entertaining but that's not what we need. We need a leader that focuses on international relations - not someone who can tell jokes.