Will Bunch finds the sudden (and, one hopes, transitory) enthusiasm for “Oprah for President,” based on one short speech at a Hollywood self-congratulation fest to be disturbing. He suggests that it betrays a fundamental shallowness in the polity and posits that our addiction to entertainment and diversion on screens of various sizes is an electronic equivalent of addiction to the mythical drug, soma, which figured in Aldous Huxley’a novel, Brave New World (if you haven’t read it, you should).
In a time when persons are judged by the number of twits who follow them on Twitter, methinks he has a point.
Here’s a bit of his column (emphasis added):
We need to talk about Neil Postman yet again, because the famous 1985 prophecy by the late NYU professor and media critic — that America was slowly amusing itself to death by killing political discourse as electronic media took over our lives — is proving to be more and more true, every disastrous day of the 21st Century. Postman’s premise — inspired by George Orwell’s 1984 and the realities of our world when that year finally arrived — was that it was not Big Brother-style censorship but the desire for instant gratification and the intravenous drug of entertainment on a big screen that would ultimately strangle modern democracy.
“How delighted would be all the kings, czars and fuhrers of the past and commissars of the present,” Postman wrote, “to know that censorship is not a necessity when all political discourse takes the form of a jest.” Rather than Orwell, Postman’s muse was Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, where the citizenry was too stoned on a drug called soma to care anymore about stuff like elections. “What Huxley feared,” according to Postman, “was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one.”
Frankly, Oprah is as qualified in terms of temperament and rectitude to be President as Donald Trump is unqualified; nevertheless, in common with Trump, she has not the experience in governance and politics to lead government competently. The outburst of support for her speaks more to a thirst for temperament and rectitude than to a sober assessment of qualifications.
Furthermore, the notion that someone with no experience with policy or governance can leap in and lead a government is a fairy tale for lazy minds, but that’s a rant for another day.
Even were she as qualified as President Obama or Theodore Roosevelt or even George H. W. Bush, I would have difficulty supporting the person who unleashed Dr. Phil on an unsuspecting nation.