Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Celebrity You Don't Know

At first, Barack Obama was a celebrity. But now, you don't know Barack Obama. This is the new attack strategy that was fed by McCain's camp and is being disseminated by the media.

Well, which one is it? Is Obama a celebrity or don't we know him?

There's a lapse in logic here. Let's look at the two celebrities that were compared to Obama in the attempt to humiliate and emasculate him. Britney Spears and Paris Hilton. Two reckless white girls who are in the news all the time for the most scandalous affairs money will allow. The main point is that they are "in the news all the time."

The media frames our perceptions of issues through repetitious bombardment of images and ideas. The average American wouldn't tell you that they don't know Britney Spears. People have formed some opinion of her, good or bad, and she has been co-opted as part of the mainstream culture. The same with Paris Hilton, O.J. Simpson, Oprah, Martha Stewart, and Ronald McDonald.

It would obviously be exaggerating and misleading to say that we know Paris Hilton like she was our best friend. To say that you know a celebrity is just a way of saying "I know about them" or "I have an idea of what that person is about." Well, Barack Obama is in the news all the time. His life is being exposed and dissected in every conceivable way. I'm pretty sure the average person could tell you a lot about Obama - good or bad. So, don't they know him?

As a matter of fact, in a recent CBS/NY Times poll, 55% of the surveyed pool said that they identified with Obama. McCain received 41%.

However, this aspect of the debate is not so relevant in the media. It seems to be taken for granted that the majority of Americans relate to McCain more. Just by watching the news, you would get the impression that John McCain was actually in your kitchen right now eating grits. That's how down-home he is.

The real truth is that the average American over 17 is an uneducated voter. Most people can't tell you what committees McCain sits on, what legislation he has or has not voted for, his true stances on most issues that affect the public, and probably not even what state he's from or how long he's been in the Senate. If they even know he is a senator. All people know is held hostage for five years in Vietnam.

In all fairness, the House of Congress is so far removed from our daily lives, literally and figuratively, that we don't know that much about most politicians. Unless you have the opportunity to watch C-Span all day long or run in political circles, you know what the media tells you.

Therefore, it is completely disingenuous for the media to keep spinning the "we don't know Barack" tale. If I'm not mistaken, Obama had significant polling margins over McCain that are just recently beginning to dwindle.

Is it that people dont know Barack Obama? Or, are people trying to forget him as the elections get closer?

Update: On the Sunday, August 31 edition of Meet The Press (MSNBC): In referring to Barack Obama, presidential historian, Doris Kearns Goodwin, said "...we know him now."


First of all, who is you said...

Well, this all makes sense in the land of nonsensical politics. Now you know him, now you don't. Whether arguments align is irrelevant as long as they serve to deter the public -- a public that is largely uneducated as you've mentioned -- from connecting with the opponent. We know his dad, his mom, where he grew up, where he went to school, what he did after school, his wife, his kids, where his parents are from, and what mistakes he's made. We know his level of intelligence, why he wants to be president, and what he intends on doing when he gets there. We have a good sense of his character and his views on many pressing issues. By now we even know his favorite breakfast. We also know the character of McCain as portrayed by the degrading tactics of his campaign strategy. Sure, let's compare a respectable black man to the most frivolous of star-studded white females we can find. A campaign like that campaign could only be geared toward the uneducated sector of the country. Bet no one "knew" him well enough to think he'd go that route.

B said...

Throughout this campaign I've heard from multiple people that, "They don't know Obama" or that, "he hasn't said much of anything about his platform and policy". This discussion of celebrity vs. anonymity with regard to Obama is interesting, because in both instances, I think personal responsibility is left out. Americans have glossed entirely over the fact that the man has written two books; the first being an intimate retelling of his personal story, and the second being a very succinct discussion of his ideas about the function of government and the role of the American citizen. His website outlines his policy ideas thoroughly. Knowing this, I think the question becomes: "how much do YOU want to know Obama, and how much effort are you willing to exert to find out?" I think America has become so complacent by the last 8 years, that people would much rather remain ignorant, but run their mouths in opposition anyway. Good discussion man...