The Outside Look at the Inside Hollow
In writing for this publication, I have come to discover a little-known fact about America, and that it has recently gone through what's called a general election.
The leader, a man called Barrack Obama/Mitt Romney has seen off a challenger by the name of Mitt Romney/Barack Obama.
I don't have much more information than that, due to the continual media silence on anything even vaguely political.
Sorry I got that wrong. What I meant to say is that it has dominated everything and anything with a screen. That's not a gripe. That's fair enough – the United States is a major world player and its leadership is rightly a worldwide issue. Fine.
So, what are currently the major issues dominating America?
Basically, the world looks at the American political culture and sees the following debates: Obamacare is a sort of health system that is a watered down compromise and is very [insert opinion] for the country; gun control is needed as we need to shoot more/less [insert minorities/species of wildlife] and occasionally some poor sod gets caught in the literal crossfire and that this is a good/bad thing; the deficit is going up and that is the fault of President Bush/Obama/Taft; and that the media is doing an utterly terrible job of covering any of this.
Why is this? Why such a terrible basic failing of the world to grasp the major issues that have elected President Obama/Romney back in for a second term (or not – seriously I'm writing to a deadline and it's not my fault that deadline is one day before the election – just pretend it's the future and I know the outcome and am being ironic)?
Well, let's take a look at a few clips diligently ripped from US networks and placed on YouTube. Take the row between Bill Maher and Elizabeth Hasselbeck, featuring his joke on her on Real Time, her response on some daytime thing and his return on a
sycophantic news interview. Or Glenn Beck's response to Jon Stewart's parody of his chalkboard rants. Or Seth MacFarlane's response to Sarah Palin's reaction at Seth MacFarlane's downs syndrome Family Guy sketch. Or Bill O'Rilley's defence of him spouting abuse at a 9/11 victim's son.
Every single example above shares two things in common. Firstly they are YouTube hits, the first port of call for any casual online browser of American culture and events. Anyone anywhere can be exposed to these kinds of footage. Secondly, none of them – not one single example – is a news item. They are all media outlets reporting on other media outlets.
No actual thing has happened. No bill is passed, no crime reported, no scandal discovered, no achievement is celebrated. The debates on healthcare, gay rights, creationism verses sanity, are backdrops for these shows to exist. Once they're established, it's no longer about the journalism or the discussion of events. It's a self-sustaining ecosystem of fame, tenure and posterity. It's a shouting match. It's one side's bias in response to the other side's tripe.
And it is this brawl that YouTubers love. The videos are never titled 'Interesting intellectual debate between…' – instead we have [Insert name] PWNS/owned by/has is ass handed to him by [Insert second name]. They take sides, they comment on those sides, and in the process utterly sweep in an international audience.
The result? A planet whose peoples only know of the issues of the world's most important democratic elections via crappy online clips and top-line basic chit-chat.
To the planet Earth: switch off the YouTube tab and get on with your day. Don't feed the egos any more of your attention.
Have a lovely evening.