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First-Hand Impressions On-Screen

First-Hand Impressions On-Screen

What with politics being ‘there’ - as it is - whether you ‘get involved’ or not (politics is there wherever you socialise, in the Aristotelian sense. Getting your own way or being generous or praising or advising…they’re all political activities. I don’t think it has to be a cold process therefore, calculated and self-serving - that depends on your disposition. We’re all politicians, in other words, to put a final nail in the parenthesis), you need to be put to trust your sources first-hand.

Luckily, with the immediacy of media communication enabled by the technological sophistication our country has thus far achieved we are able to do that…trust our sources…or distrust them of course…by paying attention to what people say first-hand. Trusting or not trusting somebody does not rest at one status…if you distrust somebody outright (as well you might), it’s worth bearing in mind you’ll be missing out on any (if any) truths they tell among the lies, not to mention their explicit position on an issue. It has to develop, your sense of trust in a person. I don’t think it’s a yes/no thing. It’s a qualifying process. ‘I don’t trust …(somebody)’ is a paraphrasing of belief about a person’s words being truly representative of their intentions. He might tell a lot of lies, but there are lies, and then there are truths which are good for you and truths which are not, simple truths it would be just plain silly to lie about, lies which protect and truths which deny and so on.

We can’t judge somebody for capitalising on their abilities (not at the expense of others o’ course). However, we can ask ourselves: are they duplicitous? There are decent people in ‘powerful’ positions (in inverted commas because power is a slippery phenomenon), and equally there are people behaving horrendously in similar positions of power and ‘success’ (in inverted commas since success is a relative concept). Attacking someone for being in their wealth bracket is saying whatever measures led to their financial circumstances must necessarily have been evilly administered by themselves.

On the other hand, realistically grasping the agenda of a person almost demands your personal take on their language first-hand.

Occasional facets of gossip may tell an unbiased tale, but the rest is best read straight from the horse’s mouth. If you have always agreed with a politician’s message, why harbour doubts about what their message actually was? It’s a trick question; what they say, how they say it and what seems to be behind it - it’s all there in what they say on screen! Their message to you is not buried in hearsay. ‘What’s the truth behind it’ is in some important way betrayed by the front line of the argument. …What is the sense of the sentence? …Does it stand up next to the next sentence? …Does it even stand on its own? …Taken at face value, what is the message of each individual idea expressed? …What is the tone of the spiel? …Is it peaceful at the outset? …Is it antagonised by another party? …Does it assign blame to individual groups, and if so according to what criteria and with what justification? …Or offer practical solutions in the very message it provides first-hand? …Are they speaking your language? …Because you’re the people who will make the changes. Politicians, good politicians, are advisors. - In terms of their profession. - They are advising the nation on how best to act. Or they bloody well should be, or they shouldn’t be at all.

First-hand impressions on-screen are the meat of modern day political speculation (on the macrocosmic scale (I added extra brackets to illuminate the figurative)). Personally, if a politician makes me feel hopeful through the language they use, there will be corollaries to this…I’ll find their points interesting, their arguments convincing, their position consistent, and their tone positive. If they don’t get through to you themselves, in their words in their mouths, in spite of the media collages which distort, the shower of commentary which de-clothes (to the detriment of the politician’s identity), what can you hope to learn or gain from them? They might be any party. Sometimes you have to question those who say they are on your side. If they aren’t on the side of the disadvantaged, they might represent a faction of society temporarily…who’ll be dropped like a stone if they fall on hard times.

They will make decisions for you. Can you follow their language? Forget the party for a second and reckon on what did the politician mean in the first-hand impression you had of her/him on screen? Such important details can be elusive to the mind’s eye if you get taken in by the merry-go-round of the media circus; it becomes a blur and you see a lot of forces at work where there might simply be a cheeky little human; first in line though he may be, he has a hand in influencing you one way or another for as long as he is talking to you on the TV screen, or the radio. Podcast. Tablet. Newspaper. Twi-never mind.

Within a few years of specialising in historical studies a person usually gets accustomed to what it means for sources to be primary or secondary. It isn’t simple to discern one way or the other sometimes, although in our modern society there is a slightly unhealthy tendency to take the commentary for the commented-upon. Primary sources are there for experiencing…they’re not hidden deep in a dusty and ancient library with wizard students floating awkwardly from shelf to shelf looking for codes which will verify the integrity of a paper trail to the origins of mediaeval alchemic literature (well some of them are (not wizards of course)). Primary sources are the unaffected article; the original record, not an interpretation. A journalist’s is always going to be the newer perspective; but primary can be anything up to the most recent document by the speaker. Including that which you see on-screen.

Confessions of apathetic manifesto reader…

If politics isn’t for you, part of the reason might be: you saw a copy of a political party manifesto and couldn’t comprehend it…or couldn’t make real sense of it…but politics is for you, isn’t it? So, shouldn’t that manifesto have worked for you? Been at least interesting or even inspiring? The words should leap off the page to you, because…you are the designated audience!! But these articles don’t reach us en masse. I haven’t checked out any of the UK political party manifestos in 2015. I’ve never been sucked in by the contents of what I saw in a manifesto in the past, and with all other disorganisation in my life accounted for it hasn’t been a draw to discover the latest. If I did, I would endeavour to devote 80% of my attention to the original article and analyse it myself without the reflections of a journalist, because if that bit isn’t too great, you shouldn’t really be persuaded by somebody else’s enthusiasm for it. Only get behind it if it sounds right to you personally, first-hand, not necessarily on-screen.

 

 

 
 

 

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