Politics and Entertainment: Marriage or an Affair?How the ‘politainment’ influences democracy development in Ukraine Alexander Belyakov "Communication - lets redefine the terms“ Erasmus Mundus Thematic Conference Bordeaux, 2010
Politainment: a Maiden of Politics• Politics and entertainment, coincidentally or not, have some similarities• ‘Politics’ and ‘entertainment’ are committed to each other. The child of this partnership was already known as ‘politainment’• Both are operating in the same public field.
Politainment: a Maiden of Politics• Television often turns political news into a show.• Politicians have to understand people’s emotions and utilize them.• Repositioning politicians as celebrities, involving artists and pop musicians into political debates and actions, creating political television dramas may increase political participation and create basic civic knowledge.• Some politaiment ideas could contribute to increase of women participation ratio in politics and state governance.
What is “politainment”?• The term was first introduced by Dőrner (2001) and indicates the merging of politics and entertainment as forms of communication.• Political communication is a form of cultural practice (Richards, 2004).• It has become a global cultural phenomenon.• As such, politics have been affected by changes in the mass media, both as a result of geopolitical changes and global cultural influences.
Two ways of looking at it:• “Politainment” can help the political process by overcoming political apathy and engage disengaged and disenchanted electorate with political reality (young voters, for example)• “Politainment” can trivialize the political process, reducing political discourse to mere soap opera, thus eroding the political and cultural capital of a nation
Analyzing “politainment”• The commodification of political campaigning— media both facilitates and necessitates this style of political campaigning.• The infusing of entertainment into politics (through publicity techniques, PR, etc.) is seen as “modernizing” and “westernizing” the political communication process.• Merging forms of representation—political and aesthetic—which can be interpreted both as a crisis of polity and a triumph of innovation.
Political talk shows or a political parody?• Savik Shuster’s political talk show ‘Freedom of Speech’ on: the ICTV channel; channel Inter; channel TRK Ukraina and clones on different channels.• Almost every top-TV channel has a show in Ukraine• This kind of ‘politainment’ causes a decrease in actual political participation (Belyakov, 2009).
Political talk shows or a political parody?Matvei Ganapolskiy’s reaction on ‘Shuster Live’: ‘The audience has acquiesced in the notion that deputies do not solve problems, find compromises or develop a common course of action, but rather act as performers. Citizens think this is the right way because those very showmen have explained to them that this is freedom of speech.’ (Ganapolskiy, 2009).
Who is ‘politainer’?• ‘A politician who makes extensive use of entertainment media, particularly during a campaign’ (Case of Yulia Tymoshenko, the former Prime Minister, the Ukrainian Joan of Arch or ‘Ukraines Iron Lady’)• ‘A politician who is or was an entertainer’ (Case of Ruslana Lyzhychko, who won the 49th Eurovision contest in Istanbul 2004)
What was going wrong for the politician?• Tymoshenko’s celebrities’ techniques: cover model of the magazine Elle and the magazine Playboy.• She changes clothes every day! She appeared wearing clothes by Louis Vuitton, Yves Saint Laurent and Valentino Red and said in an interview that would be "the best choice for any real woman" (BBC, 2005).• Populism is a part of politainment (crisis)• The loser in the Presidential elections 2010
What was going wrong for the entertainer?• “Artists are prone to making political gestures… Such gestures do not cost the artists and celebrities a great deal. It can enhance their fame and reputation (and this may, of course, go some way to explaining why they do it). But not all political involvement is costless, and not all can be explained as a cynical career move”(Street, 2002, p. 434).• “After the protests in Ukraine, I did not get any invitations to play in Russia for a long time.” (Schwabe, 2005).• Ruslana was one of the top deputies of the Nasha Ukraina, President Yushenko’s party. However, Ruslana stressed in the TV interviews; she is happy no to be involved in re-elections 2007 due to a controversial character of the Ukrainian politics.
A critical look at “politainment”Neil Postman (1987) said: “Our politics, religion, news, athletics, education andcommerce have been transformed into congenial adjuncts ofshow business” (p. 4).Appearances and images had come to dominate politics, sothat “we may have reached a point where cosmetics havereplaced ideology as the field of expertise over which apolitician must have competent control.”In such a world, politics is diminished and trivialized, “youcannot do political philosophy on television” (p.129).
Questions to ponder• Why politainment is used at such large scale in Ukraine, despite the fact that this phenomenon is very western in its origin?• What potential consequences is this process causing for the emerging democracies in Eastern Europe?
Sources•BBC. (2005). Ukraine PM makes Elle front cover. 19 April. [Online]. RetrievedMarch 24, 2010, from http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/4461169.stm•Belyakov,A. (2009). The Influence of Censorship by Money on Freedom ofSpeech in Ukraine, Critique, 37: 4, 601 — 617.•Belyakov A., Ibroscheva E. (2006). Amusing Ourselves to Death … and LovingIt! Presentation at the CEU Summer School, July 2006.•Dörner, A. (2001). Politainment. Suhrkamp.•Ganapolskiy M. (2009). ‘All Show, No Go, On ‘‘Shuster Live’’’, Kyiv Post, 26March.•Postman, N. (1985). Amusing Ourselves to Death. New York: Penguin.•Richards, B. (2004). The emotional deficit in political communication. PoliticalCommunication, 21 (3), p. 339- 352.•Schwabe, A. (2005). Life Has Become Freer and Easier. Interview WithUkrainian Pop Star Ruslana. Spiegel. May 4. [Online]. Retrieved June 29, 2007,from http://service.spiegel.de/cache/international/0,1518,354616,00.html•Street, J. (2002). Bob, Bono and Tony B: the popular artist as politician.Media, Culture and Society, 24, p. 433-441.
Thank you very much for yourattention! Alexander Belyakov firstname.lastname@example.org