Presidential “debates”


“For the message of television as metaphor is not only that all the world is a stage but that the stage is located in Las Vegas, Nevada.” ~ Neil Postman

Trump is a professional television producer and actor.

The debates are television entertainment.

Hillary is a policy wonk.

Trump (the entertainer) will win “the debates”.

Neil Postman on the Lincoln-Douglas debates:

“Is there any audience of Americans today who could endure seven hours of talk? Or five? Or three? Especially without pictures of any kind? . . . These audiences must have had an equally extraordinary capacity to comprehend length and complex sentences aurally. In Douglas’ Ottawa speech he included in his one-hour address three long, legally phrased resolutions of the Abolition platform. Lincoln, in his reply, read even longer passages from a published speech he had delivered on a previous occasion. For all of Lincoln’s celebrated economy of style, his sentence structure in the debates was intricate and subtle, as was Douglas’. In the second debate, in Freeport, Illinois, Lincoln rose to answer Douglas in the following words:

‘It will readily occur to you that I cannot, in half an hour, notice all the things that so able a man as Judge Douglas can say in an hour and a half; and I hope, therefore, if there be anything that he has said upon which you would like to hear something from me, but which I omit to comment upon, you will bear in mind that it would be expecting an impossibility for me to cover his whole ground.’

“It is hard to imagine the present occupant of the White House being capable of constructing such clauses in similar circumstances. And if he were, he would surely do so at the risk of burdening the comprehension or concentration of his audience. People of a television culture need “plain language” both aurally and visually, and will even go so far as to require it in some circumstances by law.” (Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves To Death (1985) pp. 45-46)

Presidential Debates Actually Used to Be Debates

How Technology Destroyed The Once Substantive Presidential Debate

Les Moonves, CBS, and Trump: Is TV’s business model killing democracy?

“If you’re looking for a sober intellectual dialogue on the state of American public policy, don’t watch presidential debates…” Television Debates: Not Fit For Purpose

“When a culture disdains literacy for the important functions of public discourse and replaces that with a medium that focuses on format and style — and therefore entertainment — then you begin to get… you have a situation comparable to what Huxley meant by the drug soma… that everyone is kept sort of pacified, amused, entertained. President Regan is entertaining… Dan Rather is entertaining… even the nightly news, for all of its gory stories, is entertaining, because the film footage is exciting. The religion on television is amusing. Commercials are very amusing and entertaining. So that, as we move into this imagistic culture of short duration, dynamic, and amusing images, we have a population that becomes pacified… that no longer is capable of the kind of sustained reflection and analytical thought that I think is usually characteristic of literate cultures where typography is vital to every day’s functioning.”  ~ Neil Postman (Source: PBS Currents Literacy Lost (1985)

About ajmacdonaldjr

writer, author, blogger
This entry was posted in Culture, Entertainment, Government, Politics, Society, Technology and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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