Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Is Politics Becoming a Television Game?

by Olivia Watkins

Recently with the election of a US president, who has more experience being a television celebrity than in politics, it would be fair to say politics has become a media game more than relative political experience. 

Donald Trump was claimed by many to be an unexpected victor of the presidential election and indeed the Republican nomination but is it really such a surprise?

Everyone knows who Donald Trump was, everyone knows his message, whether you were watching a pro or anti-trump media you would be exposed to his message. Ironically, by criticising him so heavily in the media Trump rather gained more attention, and therefore more support.

With programmes such as Saturday Night Live and media broadcasts such as Buzzfeed negatively portraying Trump to the extreme, it creates a backlash from his supporters of positive propaganda while also alienating some moderate people who then see him as the victim of the media, and if so how much of the bad things he did are solely negative propaganda. In addition, by some more liberal media not attacking Hillary Clinton in the same way some people believe that the media is covering for her and therefore will more readily believe any accusations Donald Trump throws at Hillary Clinton.

In this way the use of satirical comedy about politics painting either Trump, Hillary or both to the extreme ironically aided him. He got more, effectively, free television time portraying his message than anyone else, and while it shocked many, evidently it also gained him support - arguably in part due to people perceiving him as the victim of a bullying media who are portraying him worse than he actually is. Trump spent only $10 million on television advertisements but has benefitted from an estimated $1.9 billion in free media coverage. In comparison, Hillary Clinton spent $27.9 million in paid advertisements and benefitted from an estimated $764 million in free media attention. This displays how important media coverage is in modern politics. By all this television time, positive just aid his cause and some of the more outrageous things he's done are dismissed or at the very least overlooked as simply being untruthful propaganda aimed at him from an accusatory media.
It is also significant that it was the media star not the former first lady who won the presidency. It shows what type of place the digital world is developing into, one where political correctness is being shunned, where television becomes reality and the game played online and virtually is the game played on the real world stage. It is now more a game of who can accuse the other the loudest, who can get their message delivered on the most screens - be it displayed in a positive or negative light.

In addition, news, sometimes false, in the media shows up on bias feeds on Facebook. Facebook and internet cookies record sites you visit and things you and your friends like so your feed or pop-up ads are personalised, while predominately useful in minor things it can become dangerous in politics. Many people in certain areas, with friends who have certain political viewpoints and therefore like liberal or conservative posts and news articles, will only see one side of the argument and this inhibits them from making an informed decision. They will only hear the negatives of one candidate and the positives of another. This can lead to extremism on both sides and could partly explain the deep, political divide that emerged in the US throughout the elections and remains right now with protests during Trumps inauguration.

So, is politics becoming a television game? I believe certainly it has become a media one, with personalised news feeds only showing one angle and the victor having received significantly more television time - positive or negative. American politics, during the 2016 election, seemed more like a television show that someone could easily forget was not virtual and something, that would indeed, have significant consequences in the real world. 

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