Mitchell Blatt continues:
The Guojiang Subtitle Group, which is made up of about six dozen volunteers across China, subtitles American debates and uploads them to Chinese video sharing sites like Sina. But if the hope is that Chinese viewers would be more supportive of democracy after watching them, we are in for a disappointment. In fact, some Chinese viewers come away thinking democracy is a joke. “There isn’t that much discussion of policy issues. Many remarks are just sensational,” the New York Times quoted a former business consultant as saying. Other viewers compared it to watching a reality show or a sitcom.
To be fair, the Chinese aren’t alone in laughing at The Donald and other ridiculous characters in politics. A debate moderator accused Trump of running “a comic book version of presidential campaign, and FOX News host Bill O’Reilly opened a segment of his show by imagining what the GOP primary contenders would be like if they were stars of a reality television show. Joking about politics is an international pass time.
Even in China, with its limited scope of political discourse, social media users mock local government officials and joke about corruption. One popular joke holds that in America, rich people get involved in politics, while in China people involved in politics get rich.
Still, from the many conversations and experiences I’ve had during the four years I’ve been living in China, it seems as if the Chinese public views the flaws in democracy as the rule rather than the exception. Americans have our complaints—and rightfully so—about politicians, but at the end of the day, most of us believe in Winston Churchill’s famous remark, “Democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”
Politicians might say stupid things to appeal to the public, but isn’t that better than the public having no say at all? By contrast, Chinese people often look at countries with unstable or failing democratic systems and use those systems as examples of why democracy itself is flawed. Thailand (with its many coups), Libya, and Iraq are frequently cited examples in China in the past few years.
But the Chinese save their worst criticism and their favorite cautionary tales about the foibles of democracy for Taiwan…(read more)
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave her assessment of the poor state of the broadcast news industry in America. Saying,
“Viewership of Al Jazeera is going up in the United States because its real news. You may not agree with it, but you feel like you’re getting real news around the clock instead of a million commercials and arguments between talking heads and the kind of stuff that we do on our news which is not particularly informative to us, let alone foreigners.”
Paradox: Conservatives Insisting SOTU Speeches are Boring, Nobody’s Watching, Obama is Irrelevant…Yet… We…Can’t…Stop…Talking About It…Posted: January 29, 2014
I was going to write about the contradiction between words and deeds, between message, and reality.
The message: “The State of the Union speech is a non-event, featuring an irrelevant president, on subjects that nobody cares about. America is tuning out.”
The reality: “We can’t stop talking about Obama’s State of the Union speech.”
The message, endlessly repeated by conservative talking heads, writers, and bloggers (count me among them) for the last three days, emphasizing boredom, fatigue, irrelevance, tuning out.
But if it’s so irrelevant, and everyone’s tuning out, why invest billions of pixels writing about it, and waste valuable broadcast time, evaluating it, discussing it, talking about it? It means that people are paying attention. Doesn’t it?
Then I saw this.
Falling just shy of the 2013 outing, Nielsen returns put President Obama’s Tuesday address as the least watched since 2000.
Apparently, they were right. America is tuning out.
It could be the only people paying attention were insiders, media people, speechwriters, White House staff members, friends and family of members of Congress, political operatives, cameramen, broadcasters, and editors who had no choice, but primarily, disgruntled conservatives; the people warning us that no one is paying attention.
From the Hollywood Reporter:
TV Ratings: State of the Union, With 33.3 Million Viewers, Hits 14-Year Low
The gross average audience of 13 networks airing President Barack Obama’s speech puts viewership at 33,299,172. That’s down from the 33.5 million that tuned in for the 2013 speech for its lowest showing since 2000. (President Bill Clinton’s final address in office averaged 31,478,000.)