Sunday, March 17, 2013

Lazy Sunday # 264: The Reality TV Syndrome

March 16, 2013

Speaking to a conservative gathering yesterday, former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin surprised many by making a sharply insightful statement…

“So much of what passes for our National Conversations these days is anything but. We don’t have leadership coming out of Washington. We have reality Television. Except it’s really bad reality TV.”

Now this might strike some as somewhat disingenuous since Ms. Palin has, since her failed run for the Vice-Presidency, herself become a star of some pretty bad reality TV. But give her a minute here…

“…more and more it all feels like a put-on. Every event seems calculated to fool us. Every speech feels like a con.”

Ignoring the fact that her own speeches seem cadged from an old volume of “Jokes for Toastmasters”, she then made the cogent point…

“Too many of both parties are focussed on the process of politics and not the purpose –- which is to lead and to serve.”

To that I say, “Youbetcha!”. Perhaps gaining some understanding of why the Mama Grizzly is both so reviled and revered.

I think we’re all aware that the vast majority of those entering politics are sincere, hard-working and dedicated. We may not share their ideology but we respect the fact that they have chosen a path of mostly thankless public advocacy.

But lately, it seems that seeking leadership in order to set society in a better direction or serving the needs of the public has been replaced by a desire to be admired and appreciated more for who you appear to be than what you actually accomplish.

I was honestly disappointed this week when former astronaut Marc Garneau bailed from the Liberal leadership race. I wouldn’t necessarily have voted for him. But I’d’ve loved to see our Prime Minister and the leader of the opposition have to lock horns with such a smart and courageous guy.

I mean, he’s literally a rocket scientist. And he’s walked in Space.

But he didn’t stand a chance against a guy with better hair who hasn’t accomplished a whole lot beyond being a member of the lucky sperm club.

Yet that appears to be what matters more these days. A high Klout score and popular Twitter feed continually trumps knowing how to lead and doing what it takes to serve others.

And things seem even worse South of the border, where new political messiahs appear almost daily.

For the last couple of weeks, American media has been obsessed with the possibility that actress Ashley Judd might run for the senate. To most of these people, she was a great choice and an absolute shoo-in.

Now, I don’t know Ms. Judd. Saw her at a race track once, cheering on her now ex-husband’s racing team and she seemed quite sincere about that.

None of the TV talking heads could tell me much more about her nor list any leadership skills or record of public good she’s done.

But they all made a point of noting that she was very pretty, very popular and experienced at the “rough and tumble world of Hollywood” –- after which Washington would be a breeze.

Whatever you might think of Sarah Palin, she’s right. Politics has become just another reality TV format. And maybe that works for the media and the politicians. But it impoverishes the rest of us.

On Friday, one of Ms. Judd’s potential constituents dug a little deeper than the press appears capable of doing.

Please forgive his sarcasm. And whatever you do, don’t miss the part that begins at the 5:00 mark.

Perhaps what will finally defeat reality TV is actual reality.

Enjoy Your Sunday.


Anonymous said...

The problem with celebs running for office is the same problem that winners of hugely popular talent shows: they haven't made their bones yet. Show me evidence that you've lived in a van for months with some roadies and I'll consider you worthy of my attention.

If Judd wants to first run for dog catcher, mayor, councillor or even state rep, she wouldn't be such a target for snark. As was said about GHW Bush, he was born on third base and thought he hit a triple.

I have a theory that, because of our "gold star" culture (i.e., kids get stars for everything these days, because nobody is allowed to fail) shows like American Idol are popular so people can watch others fail.

The scary thing about the Shiny Pony here is that he might just as easily have inherited his mother's insanity.

As the joke goes concerning Einstein and Marilyn Monroe's love child: Yes, but what if he has my looks and your brains?

John McFetridge said...

The question is, are politicians showrunners or actors?