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Posts Tagged ‘McCain’

Photo by Marius Slaustas, cringel.com

Photo by Marius Slaustas, cringel.com

Do not underestimate the power of a single voice to make or break an election. The power is not in the words themselves; it is in the sonic experience.

Everyone has seen—and heard—mainstream media news reduced to pellets of information called “sound bites.” We rabbity news consumers meekly nibble on these empty-calorie hors d’œuvres because we are starving for the taste of real information. Performance artist David Letterman has famously turned the tables by subjecting past presidents, as well as our current one, to the sound bite test. FDR and Kennedy pass with flying colors; Bush ’43 mumbles and stumbles to failure. Sound bites back.

The current presidential campaign is delivered in sound bites. The ads, catch phrases, pundits and talking heads get more air time than the candidates themselves (except for the occasional TV drive-by, when the news camera swoops in on a candidate’s real-time delivery of a speech, then cuts away to more important matters before he has finished speaking.) Sound bites are the news media equivalent of Chicken McNuggets—looks good; tastes lousy; fills us up but leaves us hungry. (more…)

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Performance art, as a practice, may have found its fullest realization in the work of Saturday Night Live (SNL)’s Tina Fey. Fey’s channeling of Sarah Palin’s character is uncanny. In her re-staging of Katie Couric’s Palin interview and Palin’s performance at the Vice Presidential “debate,” Fey has merged the absurd-in-the-real to the really absurd, producing a composite memory of Sarah Palin that defies separation. When Sarah Palin appears on my television screen I see Tina Fey’s performance of Sarah Palin, rather than Sarah Palin’s performance of Sarah Palin. Fey has altered my perception. She—along with Amy Poehler as Hillary Clinton and Darrell Hammond as John McCain—has seamlessly infiltrated the mainstream political flabber-jabber.

Saturday Night Live, along with a handful of other comedy shows, has become the best political commentary and performance art ever. Part of its influence comes from the cheerful participation of real politicians in the parodying of their own personas. (more…)

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