Jedimerc this one’s for you..

This comment you left a little while ago has stuck with me, and I just can’t stop thinking about it. It’s from a little while ago, about the West Wing.

I didn’t care for the show not because of a speech like this (and I am in the ‘bible belt’), but it felt like NBC was trying to ‘preach’ to the US about politics.

I actually had a skype chat with Anna Falactic about this a day or two after you left it, because frankly it had me completely baffled. And I must say this, because it’s got to come out.. :) nothing personal.

When the US people watch Star Trek, do they feel they are being preached to about the best way to run an intergalactic space ship or whatever the heck it is those guys in funny outfits are doing up there?

When the US people watch Desperate Housewives, do they feel they are being preached to about life in their neighbourhoods and the state of their families and the likelihood their wife will sleep with their gardener?

What if Jed Bartlet was not the President of the United States, but the President of some fictional world power, which ran a four party system? What if it was a futuristic piece, set 100 years from now, where the parties have been abolished completely – or even if the parties remained.

Are people in the US not able to distinguish between fiction and reality in the way the rest of the world is, or are they so entrenched in their camps they cannot even consider watching a tv show that contains some of the better acting seen on tv recently, or is it something else? What if Jed Bartlet had been a republican, would it then have been ok? What would have made it ok and not like preaching?

Having watched a couple of seasons of the show now, I’ll tell you what this show does for your country for people in *my* country. It teaches us about the US political process – something I had a vague knowledge of before, but now know plenty more about. It gets them interested in what is going on politically in your country. I just was flicking around before heading off to bed, and I stumbled across Congress waiting for the state of the union, and –

– even though I cannot stand GW because I think he’s blonde on the inside and he blinks too much at the end of sentences which drives me to distraction and I hate how he talks and his little odd face thing he’s got going on there

– even though I currently have no idea what the state of things are in the US as far as elections and who is going to run etc (though I did hear about Hilary) and the only people in the room I recognised were Hilary, and GW, and GW’s wife, the vice president, Condy and Michael J Fox

– even though I really needed to go to bed, because I was tired and I’d got a lot of shit done and I was only flicking before turning off the tv and going to bed

– even though about 5 minutes into the speech I thought Bartlet is a much more convincing President and maybe if I’m going to sit here I should put on a west wing episode

– even though that thought led me to recall Michael Douglas in The American President and that he was also much more convincing

– even though I would much rather go to the dentist than listen to GW speak, I am not joking about that, ok, I’m serious!

I sat there and watched GW bumble on for almost an hour. A significant portion of that about Iraq which I felt was quite inappropriate as it is supposed to be the state of the *union* and not the rest of the world, right? Maybe 5 minutes he could have got away with, but I know it was at least 15 and possibly 20 minutes. And then I turned up here to blog about it when I really could do with some zzz’s.

If you could get the west wing on Al Jazeera or whatever that middle east tv channel is, you’d suddenly find a lot of people supporting the US. I actually believe that. The show provides one with a respect for what being a President involves, and also with a respect of what the rest of the people do. Those people in the middle east do not realise how things are run, I’m betting.

I could be wrong, the people in the middle east might not care, they might just want their 72 virgins when they die, and probably the terrorist types do, but where you shape public opinion is not with those people, but with the families, who are raising the next generation, and if the parents of those kids have some respect for the political process in the US and how things happen and the office of the President and that he’s not making decisions on things to upset them or hurt them or just out of nowhere but on the advice of many people who are well aware of the situation in their country and what the options are, and that he has to weigh all that up and try to make the best decision not only for his own country but for the *world*..

Where do I stand on the war in Iraq? Many years ago when I was in primary school there was a girl in my class whose parents had somehow managed to escape from Iraq. I was only young but the things she told me she had seen stayed with me and none of them were nice. Then some years later at work I met a customer who had been a camera man in Iraq, and he felt so strongly about the atrocities being committed he and three fellow countrymen secretly went around filming military installations and various other things. They planned to drive to the border and hand the tapes (there were a lot of them) over to the US who were *at* the border at the time (during gulf war 1) and then return home. Things went wrong, they ended up being chased out of the country, they could not return because they would have been killed and they had no idea whether they would ever see their families again. Several members of their families were killed, his wife managed to make it out alive and joined him later.

There’s a lot of places in the world where things are fucked up. Iraq was and still is one of them. They should have done the job properly the first time, I think we can all agree on that. I do not know if it will ever be sorted out or if any of the people there will ever live in peace. I wish that it could be and that was why when they decided to go, I thought it was a good thing. Now, I’m not so sure. There’s no easy answers. Some days, I’m all for let the people in the middle east fight each other until they sort it out, but then I remember my friend in school and the guy who escaped and think of the *people* involved, their hopes and dreams for a happy life, the fact that it’s not likely to happen unless someone steps in and does something.. and all the time I am grateful I was born in this country and not that one. That sounds really bad but it is the truth.

I’m now very tired and probably rambling incoherantly. I will go to bed and think more on this without being sleep deprived. But I still think Martin Sheen or Michael Douglas would be much better as your President.

Similar Posts:

politics, television shows, The West Wing

2 thoughts on “Jedimerc this one’s for you..

  1. Okay so as a background – I’m an American. Socially a liberal but politically a moderate (I think we get better things done when both sides work together).

    I loved West Wing. I wanted – scratch that – WANT a president like Jed Bartlett. I’d like to think that the people involved in running the country for real are that passionate about what they believe is right. And also that dedicated to doing the right thing as opposed to what some lobby group tells them to do. I’d prefer it if they also believe what I do, but I’ll take the other side if that’s what the majority of the country thinks is the way to go.

    Anyway – I watched the show knowing it was fiction. But I’m the wrong side of the political spectrum from the folks who usually made that complaint. The conservatives I know hated it because they felt like it was elitist Liberals ramming things down their throat. If they’d made him the leader of a fictional country, then there would have been less vehemence I think. It’s too close to the real thing for folks to be very objective.

    That help any?

  2. snoskred,

    I think West Wing is practically political porn for some one like me, because I WANT so desperately to believe that there are people making our decisions who care as deeply and passionately about the world as the senior staffers at the fictionalised Bartlet White House do. Who care more about people than political expediency. Who make mistakes and struggle with their flaws, and exist in a world beyond the five second sound-bite.

    I think it has a humanising effect for political players, but maybe that is too much to ask for.

    I think that Republicans are not always handed a raw deal – certainly in the early seasons there is a big emphasis on the opportunities presented by working with moderate Republicans and bi-partisanship.

    Further, I think Jed Bartlet’s religion is central to who he is as a character, and would note that religious influence is a constant theme of the show for both good and bad: I don’t think the show went “too far left” by trying to imply that an overt atheist could hold power. I also think his “brand” of religion is a dying one – one that is defined by self-doubt and constant questioning of the appropriateness of his personal views vs. the views of the country.

    Like all TV, if people don’t like it, they can certainly turn it off.

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