The Fox Republican Debate tonight is a preview of how corporatist promotion and demotic manipulation will seek to function as poltico-entertainment. That Google is presented as co-sponsor and determinant of public data “trends” while on the verge of Federal investigation? Unremarkable.
“Running Man” in the 1980s already skirted the line between description and satire. Now we see the functional integration play out.
The pre-baked false structural narrative cascades upon a viewer, an ersatz unreality created by News Corp, which is both mouthpiece and stage director for our current oligarchy. For many viewers that narrative’s very predictability a greater and more important comfort than disorganized surprise.
News Corp stepped up its game tonight by deploying a corporatist ally, Google. A corporate co-sponsor of a presidential debate? A general yawn. Everything is a brand. The surprise is that Air Force One isn’t sponsored. And on one level, the partnership simply provides a patina of techno-hipsterism for ratings.
On a deeper level, Google’s choice is more strategic. Google, facing several potential legal challenges, benefits by the publicity and demonstration of its power to impact electoral politics. Google served up to Fox and the viewer data samples from a (sometimes pre-screened), shapeless, inchoate jello of American random thinking. These factoids, drawn from uncertain samplings with unknown demographics, are imposed on both viewer and mannequin candidates alike. Thus the spectacle’s creators expose both the mannequins and viewers’ marginal role. Both are acted on. The essential achievement and focus are factoids ratifying and verifying the alternate, pre-fabricated narrative.
For the stage mannequins their challenge was and will be how to improvise within the script and constraints of role. How to get the right bon mot adhering to the fluid, concocted structural bounds? The viewer, the mark or “consumer” in this production, on some level senses the mannequins’ discomfort. And the disconnect between their alleged starring role and actual status. This insight provides essential comfort to the “consumer”. They sense they are not entirely alone in the production. And their status closer to the mannequins than outside, objective forms indicate.
Nothing we saw tonight changed either the pre-arranged narrative or the mannequins’ internal rankings. What did you see on screen?