Reality Politics: The Price Of Consumption
March 22, 2016
“You are what you eat….”
Our political institution was created by our founders to represent the best of us. The idea was that a group of individuals would bind together, and upon agreement, create one voice. By that vote people could nominate a representative who not only speaks for everyone but also places the groups’ interest above their own. However, despite the ideal of democracy and its designed fairness, our democratic process is far from pure, and definitely not fair. There is too much money, self-interest, pride and lies. It is wonder when a system designed to represent the people, have more often than not, failed its people. Is it because the system is flawed? Or are the people who stand to benefit from it are so corrupted that they cannot truly pick someone to represent the best of them? I think it’s both, in fact I believe the system that we have now and the candidates, who are currently leading in the presidential primary, represent us entirely. We as a society are flawed, greedy, selfish, most times gullible and often times stupid. This is represented by our continuous pop culture consumption and unwillingness to supplement that real truth. The sustenance from such a meal is akin to a diet built strictly on cotton candy, and no vegetables.
Our country created the phenomenon of reality T.V. it was designated to be a format to watch other people live what we consider “normal” lives. Audience members are given individuals, who fit a certain character archetype; sometimes that character is aligned specifically towards our own personal biases and stereotypes. The irony of course is that our acceptance of these characters and personalities are not by accident, but actual design. They simply “fit” internally of what we believe to be true. The other intriguing facet of reality television is that the story lines, while perpetrated to be real, are entirely manufactured. Producers recognize that a particular narrative will not only work with an audience, but it will satisfy your innate “ideal” personal narrative.Save
We all have an “ideal” personal narrative, it helps us frame the world, and position how we see other people. Its why popular narratives of “all men are dogs”, “women are weak and emotional” ,“tall people make great presidents-leaders” , “black people are lazy”, “all white people are racist” and so forth and so on, continue to be prevalent in our society. While these false axioms are never proven absolute or even true, we live by them, see the world through them and often times make important decisions from them. They are so ingrained within our collective subconscious, that our human tendencies become predictable and thus easily manipulated. So you see that is the real secret why reality television works, because an L.A. Executive knows what makes his audience tick, the result is that we turn people who usually have no business being rich and famous into popular culture icons. Their lives offer nothing but pure fiction, and we as audience do not ask for their truth because in realty we do not require it in order to hold our attention. Our consumption of the untrue and unintelligent mirrors our profile as a society.
It is in this environment that our political culture has now thrived. Politicians continue to make a living out of telling lies and/or half-truths about what they will do when they get in office. Yes it is true that since the founding of this republic, politicians have from the onset lied to garner votes to ultimately get elected. What has changed is not only our collective level of education, but our access to information has greatly improved. Yet we still have not progressed enough to challenge the status quo of our current political culture. We do not
It becomes almost standard fare that someone will offer the moon and the stars just to be voted as king and queen of their small patch in earth. There is no reason to ever believe that someone will change a system that has existed before they even decided to take office. But we do, and not only do we believe it, we seldom challenge when something sounds so outrageous, that if we just use basic logic we can see that none of the promises could be legitimately carried out. We pin our hopes, frustrations, beliefs and most of all our inner narrative on what a politician is supposed to be, and what he or she can do for our community and country. Many have wondered how people could vote for Donald J. Trump, attributing it to ignorance, bigotry and even misguided anger. What we all have missed is that Trumps political ascension is a product of our consumption. It is why he could run a campaign on promises and half-truths, and no one will question their validity or sanity. From both his reality T.V. background and his personal history (SEE: Central Park 5), Trump understands what words and narratives will ping an emotional response.
We as a society must learn to push through our own internal narrative, or we risk becoming the very thing we consume. If we want a better society and a better government, we have to change internally. Isn’t it ironic (and sad) that Kim Kardashian’s popularity and status tells us more about our country, than the election of President Barack Obama. Think about it, we question whether there will be another black president, but we know for certain that reality T.V. star will continue to make stars-at least in the foreseeable future. To end this piece I want to leave you a quote from President Franklin D. Roosevelt “Presidents are not elected, but chosen..”, now of course television did not exist at the time, but given everything you just read, I find that quote particularly haunting, especially given our consumption. We are after all, what we eat. Ponder that.