Media theatricalization of public life and politics
Nature: As public life and politics increasingly come to be experienced by the public through the media, and especially television, the substantive content is increasingly judged by entertainment values. When a politician trying to raise real issues on which the population is to make up its mind is preceded or followed by a comedian using his personality to amuse an audience, the politician will tend to be judged in comparison with the comedian in terms of entertainment value. The pressures on political life to increase its impact on public opinion lead to increasing theatricalization: selection of candidates by their photogenic qualities on television, the conduct of campaigns based on the televisual potential of issues rather than their real relevance.
Incidence: Media reports of real events can easily be of less interest than carefully prepared and scripted theatricalizations of similar events. Since the real events which happen unexpectedly and spontaneously are outside the control of the television producer, it is in the interest of the producer to cultivate a relationship with those who can provide advance notice of such events. Thus the organizers of a demonstration who inform television news organizations beforehand that there will be violence will provide good filmed news material which may assume far greater importance in the minds of viewers than the event may really deserve. More extreme examples include delays to executions, or even their arrangement, to enable television camera crews to be present.
Problem Type: F: Fuzzy exceptional problems
Date of last update 01.01.2000 – 00:00 CET