Discuss the Role of Celebrity culture in Politics, Evaluating the Impact it Has Had on Political Communication.
Citizens in a modern form of democracy are able to access more political information than ever; this information has fused with their established political knowledge and attitudes, which reflects the overall political view on the political world. Thus media has built an interactive communication approach between the government and society. This interactive communication approach can be seen in two ways, these two ways are the motions in which information flows. Firstly, there is an upwards flowing motion, so information goes up from citizens to the government. This means that politicians are aware of issues which related to citizens, the other information flow is, from the government to citizens about how decisions are made and what the results will be. As political issues are being reported in news with greater frequency, politicians have realized this trend and are trying to affect public opinions via traditional media and social media. This essay will start with reviewing the changes that have occurred in media in general, which can be briefly introduced as ‘tabloidization’. Then, it will discuss the impact of celebrity culture on political communication; firstly by pointing out how celebrity culture shaped the present forms of political communication and politician’s public images. After, by analyzing the role of celebrity culture in politics, the essay will focus on two main areas: voting and democracy in the critique and defense of celebrity culture.
Generally speaking, the media environment has experienced a ‘dumbing down’, as Barnett (1998) pointed out that we are facing a more accessible and less elitist approach to communication. First of all, emphasis of media has changed from serious issues to entertainment, scandals and show business. This dumbing down can be seen through the front pages of newspapers that are in circulation which will often discuss the latest celebrity divorces and break-ups, or a major crime or tragedy story instead of more challenging material such as current affairs, political debates, foreign affairs or international issues. The same goes for television, prime time broadcasting is being devoted to entertainment shows and soap operas. Or using Barnett’s (1998) words: the ‘bad’ is progressively chasing out the ‘good’. Take Blumler’s (1992) research on children’s television as an example, some programs that used to focus heavily on educational aspects such as storytelling aired on the preschool children’s television owned by the BBC has been replaced by less educational cartoon and entertainment formats. Secondly, the massive expansion of available airtime in broadcasting needs to be filled, but not necessarily by ‘serious’ material.
To make difficult concepts and stories more enticing to potential viewers, length and language are also being shifted to tabloidization. Political advertising, for example, will usually be shorten and simplified to a 30 second news clip filled with uses of emotive language and sensationalist images which are lacking in any real political content of discussion of policy. Meanwhile, the growing obsession with the private lives of celebrities requires media to expose larger numbers of scandals in order to satisfy the audience’s growing appetite. It is due to this growing appetite that companies, governments and organizations have become the targets of tabloidization. Thirdly, as competition rapidly grows throughout the media industry, how newspapers or articles can draw in larger audience numbers has become the guiding rule in content selection. (Barnett 1998). Also the increasing power of advertisers and sponsors requires the press to be more flexible and co-operative to the whims of these financial backers. However, the full blame can’t be placed on the media and they cannot be judged as entirely irresponsible as this is in a sense a trend that...
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