According to Professor David Jacobs, popular culture has been rooted in politics since President George Washington; every President has been faced with the dilemma of trying to be a great leader while presenting themselves as an average person. Friday’s Dissent in America Teach-In addressed the marriage of politics and pop culture.
“The role of news and media used to be in the middle. They were the mediators and were unbiased in the argument, that’s gone now,” said student Tom Mosher. “Now you have two figureheads going at it in which there’s no objectivity. Instead there’s a false sense of objectivity.”
Allison Macrina believed that the media was always biased; the only difference today is how the information is presented.
“Everybody now pretends to be objective. What do you suggest, that they admit that they’re biased?” asked Macrina.
Most students, however, agreed upon the problem that viewers faced when entertainment shows try to pass as news-worthy programs.
Mosher explained that, “The main problem is popular culture masquerading as news. Shows that appear to be simply entertainment are trying to say that they’re news shows.”
Andrew Pittz agreed.
“You don’t expect heavy hitting news with Regis and Kelly. But you expect heavy hitting news with Dan Rather on CBS. The meaning is negated if you’re on television and questioned on popular culture and asked questions like Edwards on Regis and Kelly about ‘you remind me of Tom Cruise in A Few Good Men,'” said Pittz. “Or Kerry in GQ where of course he has a plan for the country but does he have a personality? When you get into this breach of content for an image, you lose validity.”
Susan Jacobson, a Broadcast Telecommunications and Mass Media professor, noted that incorrect factual information wasn’t confined to talk shows.
“I wanted to comment on the issue of having candidates on talk shows and worrying about people getting their information that way,” Jacobsen said. She also cited a recent study that shows people whoo watch Fox news are more likely to believe that Iraq was involved in the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
Macrina and Rebecca Brooks believed that some value could be found within shows such as Regis and Kelly.
“The value is how candidates will respond to these questions,” Macrina said. “It’s not very evasive and the questions aren’t that difficult, it makes them appear to be nice guys. I mean as long as both candidates get equal time it’s not a big deal.”
Brooks added, “The fact that Kerry and Bush go on shows such as Dr. Phil when their time is so important shows that they know it’s making a difference.”
Next Friday’s teach-in will continue along the lines of the upcoming election with Professors Michael Hagen and Joseph McLaughlin discussing polling, the media, and elections.
Erin Schlesing may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.