Cultural historian: ‘Politics is a movie’ and that’s a problem

By Muriel Kane
Friday, February 24, 2012 21:13 EDT
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Cultural historian Neal Gabler believes that Hollywood movies have shaped our perceptions of political campaigns for the worse.

“Life itself has become an entertainment medium,” Gabler told Bill Moyers during a PBS interview on Friday. “We are all actors in and audience for an ongoing show. We are so steeped in the theatrical arts … that we have turned our own lives, and life outside of us, into a movie.”

“Politics is a movie,” he continued, “and now we’re in a campaign season where what we’re really watching is not so much political debate … as we are watching a movie in which candidates are pretending to be our protagonists-in-chief. … They want to be the hero of the movie because they understand that’s what the American people really are looking for.”

When Moyers objected that heroes like George Washington have been elected president in the past, Gabler replied that those were real heroes but what we are seeing now is “celebrities,” who are poorly fitted for the non-heroic business of governing.

This video is from Moyers & Company, February 24, 2012.

Neil Gabler on How Pop Culture Influences Political Culture from BillMoyers.com on Vimeo.

Muriel Kane
Muriel Kane
Muriel Kane is an associate editor at Raw Story. She joined Raw Story as a researcher in 2005, with a particular focus on the Jack Abramoff affair and other Bush administration scandals. She worked extensively with former investigative news managing editor Larisa Alexandrovna, with whom she has co-written numerous articles in addition to her own work. Prior to her association with Raw Story, she spent many years as an independent researcher and writer with a particular focus on history, literature, and contemporary social and political attitudes. Follow her on Twitter at @Muriel_Kane
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