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February 22, 2024

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Spring Housing Guide

Trash TV and politics don’t mix

Since it’s nearing the end of the semester, it’s likely that the amount of work most students have to do is mind-numbingly large and requires most of their outside of class and sleeping time devoted to getting everything done before May 2. So, many students are probably watching their fair share of television in order to avoid the responsibilities that are so integral to final grades.

While there is a constant barrage of “trash TV” that pops up on a regular basis (I hope that regardless of your sadness over “Rock of Love 2” ending, you all remembered that “A Shot at Love II” started this week!), in recent weeks, a new common theme of American television seems to involve the inclusion of as many political figures as possible in a program’s running time.

Last week, Stephen Colbert had Sens. Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards on the same “Colbert Report” and were given the chance to prove that they are capable of being president (Clinton fixed Stephen’s TV screen, Edwards read The Wørd and Obama put “political distractions” On Notice).

If appearing on a fake news show wasn’t enough of a detachment from the political realm, all three presidential candidates appeared on Monday night’s “WWE Raw,” using the platform to gain publicity and show their connection to average American (“Hill Rod” introduced herself to the crowd, Obama asked if people “smell what Barack is cooking?” while Sen. John McCain presented the idea of an attack on dissenters by “McCainiacs”).

Even President Bush made an appearance on “Deal or No Deal” on Monday night, quipping about his low approval ratings in comparison to the high ratings of the game show.

No longer does the average American have to take time out of their busy TV-watching schedule to seek out news about the politicians and their positions on the topics that affect them; if they TiVo the right shows, they’ll learn everything they need to know about the candidates!

The New York Times published an article about political popular culture, and explained why this not-so-new trend of using television (Richard Nixon’s “Laugh-In” appearance is an early example) is so integral to the images of politicians.

“Elitism is to the 2008 campaign as communism was to 1950s politics: a career breaker. And pop TV is the antidote, a free platform to rub shoulders with viewers who only glancingly pay attention to the news,” Alessandra Stanley writes in the Times.

Apparently, in today’s world, appearing on famous television shows that most Americans would never have the chance to be a part of (beyond being a cheering audience member) is enough to show that they are not “elitist” and are just like normal people.

It seems that no show is too small, too irrelevant or too critical of their actions for a politician to make an appearance.

After Obama appeared on “The Daily Show” Monday night, Jon Stewart questioned why his show as well as its spin off had become such a hot spot for those who are running for president. “I’d like to think we truly are the bottom of the barrel [“] why do candidates humiliate themselves on cable backwaters? Because they are running for president.”

His assessment appears to be correct. It is so essential for politicians to “pander for votes” as Stewart said, they will appear semi-regularly on shows that are designed to lampoon them, or as is the case with WWE and shows such as “Saturday Night Live,” shows that ordinarily have nothing to do with the political spectrum.

Maybe non-news television is the only real way for a candidate’s message to get their campaign platforms across to the American people.

With news outlets too busy making mountains out of molehills with petty non-scandals and meaningless actions (did Obama really make an obscene gesture by doing the unthinkable – scratching his face!?), turning to televisions shows that aren’t traditionally political (or serious in their political coverage) may be the best way to find out where the candidates really stand.

It appears that America is in for a long summer and fall, filled with politicians pandering for our votes and approval, and it should be interesting to see when and where those in the political field will show up next.

Personally, I’m hoping John McCain hosts a “Hills” reunion special as a thank-you gesture for Heidi Montag’s endorsement.

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