A Cultural Take On The Recent Election

“Miffed”, a word not used in the retelling of the election, but miffed describes it all. Various accounts indicate an absolute certainty of victory on the part of the Romney campaign, even to a brief airing of their post-election transition program on their website. More accounts speak of the genuine heartbreak of the supporters and volunteers, based primarily on the various strategists’ and king makers’ disparagement of the pre-election polling data. Finally there is the continued media re-echoing of the conservative Republican “echo chamber” as the basis for their being, well, miffed by the results. The media, and the analysts who earn a pay check through their contribution to promoting the media’s self-importance within all things political, dare not mention their own complicity in the world of miff. It is claimed that over 6 billion dollars was spent on the national campaign, a quarter to a third of it on, you guessed it, media advertising (and that’s only if you consider the audio/video components objectively, as separate from the “performance” component. Include the performance component and the advertising portion would increase substantially).  Media advertising, multi-media (art), images and narrative- the stuff of culture! Having been on the margin of two Mitt (not miff) Romney events, it was easy to see that they were tightly choreographed, completely scripted and staged media events. Little that appeared in the “performance” was spontaneous or improvised. That is not news. But it is forgotten the morning after when buyer’s remorse discounts the attractive and sincere salesperson as perhaps, just maybe, the reason for being stuck with the sale. Everything was slickly designed and packaged. The majority of “public” gatherings were intentionally staged events to be used as advertising in the continuous solicitation of votes. From the atmosphere, environs, location and backdrop down to who appeared, in what order and what was said, everything took place as if it were a movie in the making, except without a director or retakes. Add to this the oodles of ads created under the same aesthetic methodology as that used to produce studio music recordings (as opposed to “live” concert recordings), and you have just about the complete gamut of how candidates are presented. Ingesting too much Zizek tells you where this is headed (I’ll spare you the psychoanalysis)! At the live events, the candidates are focused on how this will be seen on air. In the studio ads, they are presented as in real life.  No wonder hurricane Sandy had such an impact (the return of the real!). In contemporary terms, the virtual has outstripped the actual. Well, we’ve all read our Baudrillard, simulacra being a copy of a copy and his critique of our culture being infatuated/consumed/obsessed with simulacra. The sincere and genuine belief in simulacra (and our allegiance to it), in the media production for voter consumption and gratification, had more to do with so many being miffed by the outcome than any Karl Rove math, Donald Trump conspiracy, echo chambers or inadequate polling.

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