It’s up to Saturday Night Live to decide who will be the Democratic nominee for the election 2008.
The role SNL takes on in the nomination process is an incredible example for the way political debates are being turned into entertainment in the U.S. at the moment. At the same time however, it’s an incredible example how political issues are permeating the entertainment sector, creating a new arena for public discourse. There simply is no retreat to hide from the debate over Hillary vs. Barack.
While the traditional news media is busy analysing the electability of Obama in key states and commenting on Hillary’s risk of being hurt by a badly timed remark from Bill, SNL is stealing the show. Here, questions are raised about the news media’s fascination for Barack Obama. Here, the 3am phone call ad is put into context. Here, the candidates can establish themselves as a real person with – shocking – a real personality.
In contrast, on CNN and its counterparts the candidates are treated as abstract entities. They are equations, composed of surveys, polls, demographics and, well, momentum. To the pundits it’s a horse race for the right formula to win over public opinion. They miss just one point; to the public it’s a highly engaging debate about the future of America. Thank god, the writer’s strike is history, or else there would be no place to get a richer spectrum of views and opinions on the candidates.