Politics as Entertainment?

Open mic night at the Democratic National Convention

Open mic night at the Democratic National Convention


Driving home last night, I turned on NPR. It was opening night at the Democratic National Convention, and Michelle Obama had just finished her speech.

As the applause settled and the exiting music started (a blog on this tomorrow), a reporter chimed in:

“And now let’s go to [enter some guy’s name] and [some guy’s name] to hear some post-game show analysis!”

“Post-game show analysis” I thought? What is this Monday Night Football? Did she say “show”?

It got me thinking. When did politics become an “amusement” or “pastime” (definitions of game)?

What ever happened to good old fashion old-school politics? That dry-as-bread, crusty-old-white-guy talk on C-SPAN that I use to know so well, stumble upon and enjoy watching at 3 AM stoned and eating cheez-its?

True, as an adult, I follow politics more seriously. Not ‘cus I’d like to though. I do it now more out of guilt and paranoia. And only then as a vague idealistic chore.

So, when did politics become exciting? And entertaining? What are we masochists?

No, of course not (Masochists are Bush supporters–zinnnng!).

It’s all just Obama’s doing–the “rockstar” they say (which is a curious analogy seeing as the term is both illusory and one suggesting drug addiction and promiscuity).

But the term’s half-right. The man is nothing else if not entertaining. Ever been to one of his rallies? Buy the Xpress pass.

Still, with all this hoopla, are we reading the fine print here? More focused on the MLK-like bravado than the nuts-and-bolts platform maybe?

Who here has watched Obama’s keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in 2004 on YouTube, for instance? (My hand’s raised) Anyone else? Who here has read his official platform, listed on his website at barackobama.com/issues? (I’ll be right back…okay).

We all love that shiny car that zooms at 90. But what about that greasy, smelly engine? Did we save the manual? What’s the gas mileage? Trust me I’m an Obama voter, but still it concerns.

The entertainment value of politics doesn’t just stop at Obama. It’s everywhere. How else to explain a glorified episode of C-SPAN becoming must-see-TV?

“What’s on TV, honey?” “The debate” “What debate?” “I mean the Convention” “The Convention! Oh! What channel!?”

Just seems like an odd thing to watch on a Monday night. Especially since no one wins and no one says anything except “hoo-ray our candidate”.

But if you watched, maybe you learned something and that’s fine. So I guess my question is: what was it?

Because if the answer is “nothing”, why were you watching?  Was it just for entertainment?

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