Friday, October 12, 2012

I Don't Watch The Debates Because of PT Barnum

One reason that I don't watch the debates is because there is more entertaining stuff on television: Cosby Show and King of the Hill re-runs. Not to mention books to be read and quality time with my son. Another reason is the fact that they are so predictable, and designed to make the American public feel validated, hopeful, energized, or disappointed with their candidates. They are also clearly designed to increase television viewership. Reality TV has forced the producers of these debates to step up the drama a bit; where as debates were once a consciousness lift from sit-com line-up, they now compete with other contest styled programs (American Idol, The Voice, X- Factor, etc.) for viewers and style.
Notice how the set resembles that of "The Voice"?

Even some republicans enjoyed watching Ryan get his arrogant but handed to him
Back in the 1950's there was a giant scandal over quiz shows being fixed, tragically tarnishing the reputation of a young academic named Charles Van Doren. In writing fiction, or guiding the flow of reality TV there are basic principles, like rules to an improvisation theater game: The characters are somebody, in a place doing something. They need a reason to be there and then they need a reason or way to exit the scene. There are also only 36 distinctive ways that characters can interact, each with two out comes, thus allowing for only 72 possible story lines. As writers, we just vary the settings, characters, and exact flow/ pace of the story. Ladies and Gentlemen, if you consider that PT Barnum was the Machiavelli of entertainment, and is noted for saying that the way to cultivate an returning audience is to advertise the spectacle, and precede it with the the grotesque and the ridiculous. He was also known for saying that you can create news through advertising and if you advertise forcefully, the advertised object, even if perfectly vacant and without qualities, becomes a topic of conversation. With this in mind, please let me break down the debates for you:

Of course Obama lost the first one, if he hadn't no one would have talked about it as much. Of course Biden won his, because he's an elder and Ryan is considered arrogant even by his own party. Why are you going to watch the second debate? For the same reason that Rocky II was a higher grossing film than the first... as I say to my playwriting students: now that I've taken all of the romance out of this for you, let's focus on the character development. Tune in...

1 comment:

Tah Phrum Duh Bush said...

Great insight and I fully agree my man... It is nothing but well construed drama!!!