Idol Chatter

Did you watch the Democratic National Convention on TV Monday night? No. Neither did I. It made me think back to that “West Wing” episode of a few years ago, where the dramatic twist featured all three major television network presidents informing the White House staff that they would only be covering one hour of the convention, rather than the traditional gavel-to-gavel coverage of all four nights.
Back then, the very thought of this was obnoxiously impossible, but the points the characters made were strong: conventions, they said, were neither news nor entertainment anymore.

Fast forward just a few years later–to today–and sure enough we have very brief coverage of conventions which feature neither dramatic entertainment nor news. The networks are not to be blamed for wanting to show their usual shows for higher ratings. I’m very interested in politics, but I’m not at all interested in the conventions. Here’s why:
• The speeches aren’t written by the speech givers.
• The actions aren’t scripted by the action-takers.
• The convention features little contention and lots of coronation.
Conventions used to be a great time to gather the family around the TV and discuss the issues regarding the future of our country. Now, it’s more of a beauty pageant. And I don’t watch beauty contests either. There’s more news commentary about the vote for Miss (or Mister) Congeniality between the Clintons and the Obamas than there is about how our country can be inspired and led more towards greatness.
It’s not that my taste in entertainment should be the concern of television executives, but it’s my taste for authenticity–and that desire among most in the American public–that should be the concern of the shapers and handlers of these mega-events. Disinterest in the conventions bleeds over into disinterest in the race itself, which is why we have such a miserable turnout every four years on election day. And that hurts us all.
If you want some real entertainment, tune into C-SPAN and watch the conventions of the 60’s. The film is grainy and a lot of it is black and white, but at least something real was going on. There was real drama. There was news. There was entertainment. And…there was inspiration.

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