Once upon a time in America


One of the industries that was hit the hardest with the pandemic is the entertainment industry. No concerts, no plays, festivals or live gigs… Majority of attempts to move these events into the virtual world have proved unsuccessful; and it makes a lot of sense. Without the live audience to create the energy and provide for interaction, the unique, irreplaceable experience just isn’t there. What poses a particular problem is the fact we still cannot see the end date of the crisis, not even as a wild guess. Some are even prophesying the collapse of the entire industry forever.

One branch, however, is still not giving up – it almost looks like corona simply cannot kill it. To the contrary, it seems to have given it a new boost on both the local and global level. We are obviously talking about politics. 

Corona has turned into an additional topic for politicians to demonstrate how concerned they are for the health and wellbeing of their citizens and how they are undertaking all the necessary measures to protect them. The politics, as we know it, entered the entertainment industry long before the crisis hit. The key factor to enable this transition was the creation of an entirely new media context that is over-dominated by the social media, which enabled, on an entirely different level, the illusion of direct contact with the people. So politics has simply applied the methods, techniques and tactics of the entertainment industry. The purpose shifted from fighting for ideas to winning over the popularity with the voters who have already been treated for some time by the politicians as fans and audience suited for cheering and applauding, and only occasionally voting. 

We have also witnessed a reversed trend lately. Seeing that politics and politicians are getting more space in the entertainment industry, traditional players in the field have decided to dabble into politics in return. Let’s take a closer look into a few examples from the USA that has been regarded traditionally as the center of the entertainment business. Last case of the dabble occurred when a few games of the final tournament of the NBA League were cancelled as a sign of protest against police brutality on the occasion of Jacob Blake’s shooting incident in the state of Wisconsin. 

Obviously, the news of the final torunament in the most prestigious basketball championship in the world being cancelled has become global news. The protest was joined by several teams of the American professional baseball league who also cancelled their matches. Soon after, the Women National Basketball League WNBA, the National Hockey League NHL and a number of prominent individual sportsmen joined the call. Luckily, the crisis was handled promptly, and the games took place only two days later. It is worth mentioning that the basketball players who led the protest, have sought advice from the former president Barack Obama, understanding full well that they are out of depth and need advice from some with more experience in the field. The direct result of this sequence of events was additional attention for the remaining final matches of the NBA, which is anyway held under special circumstances and without a live audience. Another interesting managerial decision comes from the clubs who own their courts and the sport centers in which they play – to provide the premises in November to serve as voting stations and allow for a more efficient and speedier voting in the area during the upcoming presidential elections in the USA.

Here’s another example: in the beginning of July, a world-renowned rapper Kanye West announced he would run for president. The decision was posted on his Twitter account, followed by the 🇺🇸 emoji and the #2020VISION. First public endorsement for the run came from the startup innovator billionaire Elon Musk over Twitter, another global celebrity who used this occasion to express a clear political standing.

Just try to envision his presidential campaign: enormous stadium meetup, Kanye walks on stage, holding hands with his wife and the future wannabe First Lady, Ms Kim Kardashian. Social media set ablaze; followers are in frenzy.

However, it seems that his 2020 presidential run is off the charts at the moment, as the famous rapper ended up in a hospital, due to mental health issues. Yet, this doesn’t mean much… As we can see, mental health issues are not a bar to becoming elected to a function. Rather the opposite is the case.

Speaking of stadium meetups and sport halls, here is a third example. Trump’s pre-election rally was scheduled for 20 June in a sport’s hall in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The organizers were faced with incredible demand as over a million requests to attend the rally was sent in. As the demand surpassed the capacity of the hall multiple times over, large led screens were set in front of the hall, with additional space dedicated for all the visitors to follow the rally from the outside.

And yet, Trump had to address an almost empty hall, with no one waiting outside, as only 6,200 people joined the rally that day. The million requests sent to attend the event were actually a prank organized by the TikTok community and K-Pop fans. They mobilized fake profiles and flooded the organizers with attendance requests. The organizers fell for the prank and the rally was anything but successful. The sad event was followed by a series of pathetic attempts by president Trump’s team to lay the blame on Black Lives Matter movement, alleging that their members blocked the people from accessing the hall.

The combination of politics and entertainment is not a novel concept. Nonetheless, what we are witnessing in the last few years took that combo to new heights. The roots to a problematic union are deep, and reasons for its existence are worrying. The lack of proper capacity of existing political systems both on the national and global level to deal with pertaining issues of today is the actual problem. The consequence of that is a slippery slope to showbiz and superficiality as means to cover-up the lack of competence and at least keep up with appearances of being relevant. When politics are not able to deal with problems in their domain, then everything becomes politics. 

The last tech revolution radically changed the way we live, while the politics remained the same. Centers of decision making shifted to large global corporations, specifically the tech giants, that base their decision in profits, protecting the interests of the owners far behind the public eye. 

Social agreement between the state and the citizen – where the state represents a system of institutions that are harmonizing the public interest with legitimate private interests – is, simply put, void. It was a one-sided termination, resulting in a provisorium where we live alongside the usurpers of our rights who are trying really hard to at least provide some entertainment and distract the focus from actual problems. The key tool in their set to do so and further blur the lines? Politics, ofc. 

I know, I know, many of you will say: “Oh, come on, that is happening in the States; here that wouldn’t be possible”. Really?

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