There Is No Business Like Show Business
It is amazing that it takes an assassination and senseless mass murder to rile tolerant people. What follows are excerpts from today’s Climate of Hate by New York Times op-ed columnist Paul Krugman.
As David Frum, the former Bush speechwriter, has put it, “Republicans originally thought that Fox worked for us and now we’re discovering we work for Fox.”
Please understand – if there wasn’t an egger market for violence it would not appear in the script. While in India I discovered that at least one rape in most films was mandatory. Joseph Chilton Pearce was to be a consultant on children’s TV programming until the sponsor insisted on a steady stream of violence or there would be no show! That’s show business.
Public politics, which is not at all the closed door wheeling-and-dealing that really calls the shots, has been reduced to Spectacle Theater, on par to televised wrestling. Political players MUST conform to tried and tested show business rules. The GOP knows this and plays the part media demands very well. Progressives, so called liberals, aren’t as cunning. In a Machiavellian arena whose behavior is more intelligent, more appropiate? A few causalities, even children, only sweeten the plot.
Will the Arizona massacre make our discourse less toxic? It’s really up to G.O.P. leaders. Will they accept the reality of what’s happening to America, and take a stand against eliminationist rhetoric? Or will they try to dismiss the massacre as the mere act of a deranged individual, and go on as before?
Considering the viral success of the midterm election I don’t think so. The assignation attempt and cold blooded murders will only toss more bate into the media frenzy. Violence is an integral part of popular show business.
I remembered the upsurge in political hatred after Bill Clinton’s election in 1992 — an upsurge that culminated in the Oklahoma City bombing. And you could see, just by watching the crowds at McCain-Palin rallies, that it was ready to happen again.
Last spring Politico.com reported a surge in threats against members of Congress, which were already up by 300 percent. A number of the people making those threats had a history of mental illness — but something about the current state of America has been causing far more disturbed people than before to act out their illness by threatening, or actually engaging in, political violence.
Recall Jerry Mander predicted in 1970 that rules of television would dictate the forms of government we have, and to a great extent the societies we live in.
As Clarence Dupnik, the sheriff responsible for dealing with the Arizona shootings, put it, it’s “the vitriolic rhetoric that we hear day in and day out from people in the radio business and some people in the TV business.”
Where’s that toxic rhetoric coming from? Let’s not make a false pretense of balance: it’s coming, overwhelmingly, from the right. It’s hard to imagine a Democratic member of Congress urging constituents to be “armed and dangerous” without being ostracized; but Representative Michele Bachmann, who did just that, is a rising star in the G.O.P.
See Steve Rendall | Fox News; the No. 1 Name in Murder Fantasies
Of course, the likes of Mr. Beck and Mr. O’Reilly are responding to popular demand.
See Jullan Rayfield | New Study finds Fox News Viewers Are the Most Misinformed.
Citizens of other democracies may marvel at the American psyche, at the way efforts by mildly liberal presidents to expand health coverage are met with cries of tyranny and talk of armed resistance… and there’s a market for anyone willing to stoke that anger.
See William Rivers Pitt | The Wrath of Fools: An Open Letter to the Far Right
There is no business like show business.