Posted by: Yorgos | March 21, 2008

Text 10 – TV and Politics

I was watching a talk show earlier where two politicians (one belonging to the government party, the other to the opposition) were arguing about pensions and social security and so on. What they were arguing about is not that important. How they were arguing is important and interesting, from my point of view at least. They were sitting side by side and the argument was heated and they were getting angrier all the time. However, not once did one look at each other. They were always using the monitor which was standing against them (quite close to the camera that was pointing at them) to look at their opponent who was standing only a few centimeters away. Why on earth would they do that? Is it a narcissistic thing, meaning they like to watch (and not only hear) themselves talk, feeling satisfied because they’re on TV? Or is the argument unimportant and what is important (to them at least) is to show the people that they are fighting for their rights?

I think both of these reasons can be true, but there is another one, underlying the whole system and has to do with being on TV. Television here works as a medium of communication even for two people who do not need it. They are standing side by side and yet they talk to each other through a monitor (in fact, it was probably the same monitor). This is indeed an era where the media take the place of actual unmediated communication (of course, there is no such thing as unmediated communication, since speech, at least, is always “the middle man”, but for the sake of the argument let’s just say that in order to have a medium you need to have some kind of technological tool, be it paper or telephone and so on). In that sense, the TV is being transformed into a natural mode of communication, it ceases being a medium, but infiltrates our very concept of how basic communication is performed. The TV is now a starting point in political speech and not something that one needs to use.

Once more, the medium is the message.

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