It is no secret that American today center most of their time and energy around a television. Women discuss the events of the Real Housewives of Bravo. Men yell and argue with beers in hand while watching a variety of football, baseball, and other sports. But can it be that we don’t take some things seriously, thanks to television? We watch our celebrities and celebrity news shows, delighted by where Tom Hanks was with his dog. Now we do the same with our government. We love to hear about where Barack Obama’s daughters, Malia and Sasha, are spending summer break, while keeping up with Michelle’s campaign for childhood obesity. It seems like we care more about the families in the White House, more than the political reforms that go on there.
Source B mentions Bill Clinton discussing his underwear during his campaign. His answer was pretty interesting, wasn’t it? The question might have come up for purely comical reasons. It probably won’t affect someone’s vote if they know he wears briefs–or will it? “Do I want a grown man wearing briefs to run my country?” one might ask. What does that say about him? “Presidents are losing their distinctiveness to social actors.”(Source B). This means more and more, Presidents and presidential candidates are celebrities. Who cares if the choose to start a war, they need to look good! Many people have noted how ugly Lincoln was as a President, even if he was one of our greatest. Some even fo as far as to comment on his wife! It can be hard to remember all that they did but a face seems to stick with you. Meanwhile, nowadays some older women still reminisce over how handsome JFK was when he was in charge. He sure looked good on the screen too. He must have been smart to think of how his dark suit would have looked on the fuzzy television screen (Source C). Hmm, a smart man like that should be President. I guess that when it came to John F. Kennedy’s vote, television made the choice much more ‘clear’.
What did television have to do with it? Well before television you couldn’t see the Presidents unless you met them. WHat we saw on the television did drastically change our opinions. Let’s think back to Johnson. After Cronkite did his feature on the war, the President himself said “It’s all over.”(Source E). He was caught by what that popular T.V. reporter showed the public. Johnson even liked Cronkite himself, he couldn’t argue that the rest of America would agree with Cronkite aswell. knowing this, Johnson decided not to run again. There’s no fighting popularity. THe question was raised, “Do we deliberately aim for the lowest common denominator, there by assuring ourselves as the largest possible audience but producing nothing but cotton candy for th mind, or do we tackle the difficult subject as creatively as we can knowing we may lose much of the mass audience.” (Source F). What that question states in simpler terms basically says, “Do we want to be popular or be the change for the better?” Now it is a question between the two. There is the old saying that ‘what’s popular is not always right and what’s right isn’t always popular.’ This previous summer there was a massacre in Colorado. It brought attention to gun control in the U.S. Some may say this event proves the need for tighter gun restrictions; Most pointed out that it is in our constitution that we have “the right to bare arms.” In light of the upcoming election, both Mitt Romney(Republican Nominee) and Obama(current President for re-election) decided to stay throughly neutral as to not lose any votes. We needed an answer but they needed the votes. The only way to keep the votes is to keep people liking your image.
So that’s what it comes down to in the en. Television brings more attention to the person’s image, not their “policy sphere”( Source B). Ray Bradbury, an author known for his remarkable accounts of what America would be like in the future, wrote a novel called Fahrenheit 451. In this novel the main character’s wife and two friends watch their walls and comment on presidential candidates. They giggle and sneer at one candidate for being short and having a stuttering problem, while the other talks so smoothly with nice strong facial features. They don’t ever discuss what the person said. Most people can be seen commenting on how stupid one candidate sounded in his answer, without really knowing what he said. Television seems to make all things pretty simmered down and skin deep. It was made for entertainment purposes so it fits that most things featured would be for entertainment. We don’t need to know about their standing on foreign policy, we need to know that he won’t stutter at a UN summit.
So in the end what does television do? It babies us and makes everything so much easier. It feeds us its wonderful unidentafiable mush. Presidents now waste the last year of their term simply planning and campaigning for next year. Does that get anything done? No, it gets them elected. Thank you television. Thanks to you America now realizes what’s important, not what they want to do, but how you appear in the vanity of the glowing screen in the den.