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The Media and the President

Well, we didn't get a full-scale debate going last night--thanks to everyone who played along, though--but I think we got at some really interesting questions and ideas surrounding how new media technologies have affected U.S. politics in the 20th century. Along with a continuation of our discussion from last night, I left class with some questions of my own that we could perhaps address in the comments section of the blog.

Were the effects of radio and television on Presidential politics different and, if so, how? We discussed radio being a better forum for conveying information, but there was also a question about whether it was as compelling as television. Are the effects of mass media on politics positive or negative? Last night I think the voices for negative won out, but I think there's a lot more that could be said about this topic. Other thoughts?

Comments

Sorry for being a little late about this, but I wanted to discuss a little bit about Kline's lecture about Korean movies and how they are quite similar to Hollywood videos. I disagree with her views on Korean cinema, as do most of my Korean friends. Most Hollywood films usually have a straight forward plot, with a few surprises, and plenty of action. On the other hand Korean films, with a much lower budget, often have a slower developing story, with less action, but more surprises. Kline even mentioned it herself that Korean movies are often melodramatic (There are only a few quality action movies, such as Shiri or Memories of Murder). So it is difficult to compare these two types of cinema. Also, what I have noticed different between Hollywood movies and Korean movies are the long pauses that Korean actors usually take during dialog which lets us understand more clearly by giving us more time. Also, facial expressions seem to be overemphasized, which may make the movie seem fake, however, for some reason, the actors make it seem realistic and entertaining. All in all, comparing these two types of cinema would be like comparing apples with oranges.

[Instructor's Note: Jonathan's comments refer to the talk on campus by Christina Klein, author of last week's reading on magazines and Asia during the Cold War. In the lecture, she analyzed a specific Korean detective movie and argued that it was A) representative of Korean cinema and B) an example of how Korean cinema was using Hollywood's tactics--technically superior movies--to tell interesting national stories. One of her points was that this example should challenge any easy ideas that the global reach of U.S. popular culture is somehow taking over foreign national cultures. Jonathan raises some interesting criticisms of this argument.]

This isn't really a comment on the discussion but I remember listening to the radio after the 911 attacks. I did not pay much attention to what Bush was saying when I would see him on tv, but on the radio I was at full attention and he just did not sound intelligent at all. What I am trying to say is when you are watching television there is so many distractions to get your mind on, but when it is on the radio you seem to be paying attention more to the message.

I remember the presidential debate between Bush and Kerry couple years ago, I was watching it on TV. And I was not a supporter of either party (not even now). But the debate between the two candidates actually made we want to vote for Kerry since he was really getting into the points and his speech was much better than Bush's. I didn't really have any idea of who to vote for before watching the debate (and I was not eligible to vote anyway). But after debate, Kerry was the one I would like to put my vote on. I would say, having presidential debate broadcasting on TV would definetly help me to understand who to vote for. I think it is one of the ways how media impact people.

I think there is some good that can come from mass media when dealing with politics. For instance, those who feel strongly about a certain political debate can voice their organization's opinion (although, some can be slanderous) to a mass audience in hopes of influencing their vote. So I guess it depends on which side of the 'advertisement' you are on as to whether you would think of it as positive or negative.

Sometimes, video will only get in the way of the message (and possibly hinder it). I personally like getting news from MPR rather than the TV and I'm sure others think so as well.

I think TV and Radio definitely had different effects on the presidency.

TV definately brought appearance into the world of politics. In doing so, TV took away from what was being said, and put a lot into how one looked, acted, and interacted with what was going on.

Furthermore, I think TV closed off all imagination of the unknown. Where FDR's Fireside Chats allowed the American public to imagine his appearance--if they had not seen him, TV broadcasts of the '92 presidential election confirmed for the American public that Ross Perot's squeeky voice was matched by his little head and gigantic ears.

Where TV took away from the message being discussed, it also made up for what radio couldn't--appearance.

So maybe TV was beneficial if you place some importance on appearance, and maybe it was derogative if you base opinions primarily on the politics of things.....