Sunday, October 30, 2011

Public Relating To GOP Candidates Like Reality TV Characters

President Barack Obama's wisecrack the other night about his GOP presidential rivals being "voted off the island" - - a reference to the reality show "Survivor" and its method for whittling down contestants - - was deeper than you'd first think.

Americans flock to the oxymoronic "reality" TV programs, where contestants compete for prizes, and in some cases viewers "vote" electronically, as if their relationship to the show were as a real electorate.

How else to explain some of the traction and appeal in the genuinely real electoral process by conservative candidates who have been on their own 'reality' programs - - Trump, Palin - - or in media that blurs the lines between information and entertainment - - Cain, Huckabee, Gingrich, Santorum - - the latter three having had Fox 'News' programs.

Candidates that entertain, but do not educate, are a perfect match for viewers who then think they are participating in something real, on "reality TV," by "voting."

The electorate and much of the political process has been driven by TV since the Kennedy-Nixon debates, and the dominance of the 30-second spot, and we've already had one actor - - Ronald Reagan - - make the jump all the way from Hollywood to the White House.

But this year, the repetitive, debate-laden Republican primary process has been a made-for-TV production, and some of the sponsoring networks' productions and teasers have been all about show business and barely about issues.

For my money, "Godfather" (see, right there, another media reference) pizza and pitchman Herman Cain is the most effective of this season's 'reality' candidates:

He's had a radio talk show, has mastered commercial advertising's essential superficiality - - 9-9-9 - - and, intentionally or not, comes across like the lead in a sit-com, "Herman and Friends," and not the front-runner in a an authentic campaign for President of The United States and Most Powerful Nation On Earth.

Because this year, TV-addicted voter/viewers in the GOP base seem to want nothing more.

He just might get his act picked up for another 13 weeks.

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