Friday, November 25, 2016

Politics and Entertainment

Over the past week, the news has been heavily covering an "incident" between Donald Trump, Mike Pence, and the cast of Hamilton. Mike Pence attended the show and was booed by audience members. After the show, the cast delivered a message to the Vice-President elect asking him to work to represent all Americans. Regardless of whether this was the appropriate venue to deliver a message to Mr. Pence, . President-elect Donald Trump scolded the cast of Hamilton for their mistreatment of Mr. Pence. He demanded an apology from them immediately. He then went on to criticize Saturday Night Live's less than flattering portrayal of his transition effort. He also demanded more "fair coverage" and less bias from SNL. During his most recent meeting with the New York Times, he asked that they go easy on him. He believes they have treated him unfairly and would like for them to make amends for their biased coverage.

Most of you are probably questioning, what does this have to do with telenovelas? It might seem like a bit of a stretch right now, but President-elect Donald Trump's responses remind me of President Hugo Chavez's responses to entertainment and the media. His twitter rants and videos completely bypass our journalistic institutions. To some people, this may seem as a positive thing. He gets to deliver his message without the middleman and as a result, is free from any potential media bias. However, it also doesn't hold him accountable to the tough, uncomfortable questions the media deserves to ask. Chavez took things way further and as we have seen first hand in our class, shut down networks like RCTV. He prohibited telenovelas from airing due to the "negative" influence they had on the Venezuelan people. Now, I am not saying that Donald Trump will ever take things this far, but it all has to start somewhere. He has discredited reputable news sources like the New York Times. He has attacked the very institution of political satire that has been a foundation in the relationship between the government and the American people. By discrediting these sources, it makes it difficult for his supporters to get the truth, because let's face it, politicians (even inexperienced ones like Trump) are bound to lie. His direct videos remind me of the Aló Presidente airings that Chavez used to do. In fact, before the election ended, there was talk about how he wanted to establish a news channel called Trump TV.

I think if there's one thing this class has made very clear to me, it's the importance of free media and entertainment. Dr. A told use to never take our democracy for granted. I think, we, as the American people, have the right to hold our politicians to a high standard of transparency. Some may say that this is a biased view but I'm not just saying this should apply to Donald Trump, it should apply to every person that aspires to hold public office. From Broadway shows to American traditions like SNL, entertainment should have the right to mock politicians, ask tough questions, and bring important issues to light. This is how democracy works. The second institutions like the NYT feel as though they cannot ask tough questions, our democracy is in danger. Therefore, I think we should be vigilant. We need to demand transparency from our elected officials. We need to demand freedom of the press.


  1. Izzy, I completely agree with your explanation and reasoning for freedom of press; I truly believe this is what makes our country so great and real. Most countries, like you mentioned, do not have these privileges we are so lucky to have. Political opinions aside, I am very relieved to know our media is essentially doing its own thing without the pressure/input of outside sources like government officials. I could never imagine living in a country like Venezuela and not being able to rely on the news as it would be, in my opinion, a tainted source of news in having government influence and regulation. Although I agree with you points completely, I believe one aspect of our media needs to be made more apparent: transparency. In today's news, many sources are already biased without the influence of outside sources making for unreliable and non transparent news. Examples of this can be seen in Fox's conservative/left wing portrays of news and MSNBC's liberal/right wing portrayal of news. Although most news sources in the U.S are unfazed by governmental regulation in terms of what they broadcast, I still believe delivering accurate and factual news is the most important as biased news is just as bad as regulated press. Another interesting aspect of this whole thing is the Telenovela's industry impact on its viewers in terms of portraying news/events. I can remember one day in class Dr. A was telling us about how Miami-produced telenovelas have included themes about diseases and other real life things. When I first learned this, I was extremely happy as it appeared to me as an incredible opportunity for telenovelas to educated people on real life things they would have otherwise had no idea about. Although it never went as deep as talking about political views and ways, I still believe the telenovela industry has an opportunity to include more informative aspects in their productions in terms of what exactly is going on in today's world whether it be political or simply informative.

  2. Izzy- I really appreciate and enjoy your post comparing Donald Trump's actions to those of Hugo Chavez. I often think about what it means to live in a democracy, and oftentimes it does appear that the media is threatened by big politics. I had never heard Donald Trump talk about starting a Trump TV channel, but that would not surprise me at all with the amount of ridiculous things that man has proposed to do. Rarely do people stop and think about its implications, or even think to compare it to Hugo Chavez's "Alo Presidente". Its important to not forget the past so that we do not find ourselves going down the same path. I do think that the media is extremely bias and its important to use media outlets that you know are neutral, or at least near neutral. Even if you fall either to extreme right or left, its crucial that you be exposed to the truth. I think we take for granted what the "truth" means, especially considering the situation in Venezuela and a lot of Latin American countries in the past. Take Brazil, for example. The military dictatorship during the 1960s caused many to flee the country for speaking the truth, and I wonder if we will see similar actions from US citizens during the next 4 years. The United States certainly is not under a military dictatorship, but freedom of the press is not absolute. I agree that we must demand absolute freedom of the press and that no organization or individual has the right to censor or ask that the media to refrain from asking questions or from criticizing the government. It is our right as a people to know the truth and we must allow the press to unearth it, but it is also our responsibility as educated citizens to be able to distinguish truth from fiction or fact from sensationalized entertainment.