That’s Entertainment


by akasidney

The greatest stories ever told always include memorably drawn characters: villainous villains, sympathetic protagonists, clean plot lines, drama, suspense, and a satisfying ending. That’s entertainment. Passionate. Thrilling. Heart-warming.

Now, imagine a drama in which in every scene villains and protagonists swap roles and the plot and outcome are ambiguous. Or one in which you’re presented with only facts and figures. There are no good guys. There are no bad guys. No plot. No drama. No suspense and in addition you’d have to study really hard to understand what’s going on. You’re going to change the channel, plug in the xBox, or go for a walk.

It’s widely accepted that the news media are really only entertainment vehicles. The anchors are celebrities. Most people favor theater, bread and circuses, welfare and recreation over the real world. So, if news stories don’t contain the elements of an entertainment then the media doesn’t have an audience. Audience is what it’s all about. And honestly, you cannot begrudge a business for trying to gain market share or make a buck. And so, news stories must have villains and heroes, suspense and drama. If in one episode Democrats are heroes and Republicans villains and in the next Republicans are heroes and Democrats villains, there’s no clear plot line. As an audience member you can’t consistently identify with the changing characters and since there’s never any closure in any ongoing drama even on the next day you can’t substitute heroes for villains. To sustain interest and audience share, to advance the plot, to keep people watching, the players must remain the same: Republicans villains; Democrats heroes; news anchors clowns.

Why, though, should Democrats always be the heroes and Republicans always the villains? Well, for one, Democrats believe that individuals cannot manage their own lives and that for every misfortune, Democrats must ride to the rescue, take control, manage the afflicted life, save the victim. Republicans believe people generally and Americans specifically are resilient and can manage quite well on their own, thank you. So Republicans are mischaracterized as unfeeling Darwinists. Democrats are the party of hedonists, of license and indulgence. The party of play. The grasshopper to the ant. A happy ending means you get what you want for which of course in a play there are no real consequences.

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