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Friday, March 11, 2016

Amusing Ourselves to Death? The Tension between Entertainment Values and Civic Virtues

Kayhan Parsi
Originally posted February 24, 2016

Here is an excerpt:

I appreciate the fact that television is currently experiencing its latest golden age, with programming that rivals great literary works. Moreover, I believe that social media can be a force for good, mobilizing people to engage, to learn, and to be involved. Yet, with the dominance of visual and social media culture, we all need to become better educated on how to “read” this media culture. We need to reflect on how these new media shape the political landscape. And we need to connect the civic virtues in a meaningful way and harness the great power of these technologies. One way to do this is to adopt the Oxford-style debate format promoted by Intelligence Squared. As Rosencraz and Donvan argue, our current format reveals nothing of substance but rather is an opportunity for entertainment values to reign supreme. The candidate that says the most outrageous thing wins in this kind of format (WWF anyone?). On the other hand, “Oxford-style debate would force the candidates to respond to intense questions, marshal relevant facts, and expose weaknesses in their opponents’ arguments. Memorized talking points could not be disguised as answers.”

The blog post is here.