It is an observation many have made, and some social critics rather profoundly, but one not acknowledged as widely it should be. Popular culture very often trumps common sense and clear thinking in modern America. We cannot sustain serious thoughts for more than a few seconds so we are very impressed by what we see. The ubiquitous visual imagery of our culture impacts us daily. Conservatives like to blame the media in America for everything that is bad. And there is plenty to blame. But how about putting the blame squarely on ourselves, on the public?
Dennis Haysbert is very likely a name that you do not recognize. He is an African-American television actor who presently stars on “The Unit” on CBS. Haysbert was first known through a series of commercials that he did for Allstate. He then came to real television fame in his role with Fox as President David Palmer on the hit series “24.” I love “24,” as many of you know, and I miss President Palmer in his role. He was clearly the best president the series has ever had. (Presidents are assassinated again and again on “24” so Palmer, sadly, was taken down by a conspirator’s bullet.)
It so happens that Dennis Haysbert is, in real life, an open supporter of Barack Obama. He even contributed the maximum gift allowed by law to his campaign: $2,300. Haysbert was recently asked if his portrayal of David Palmer, an African-American president who was so likable and strong under fire, contributed to the likelihood of Obama’s election. Haysbert said, “If anything my portrayal of David Palmer, I think, may have helped open the eyes of the American people.” He then went to say that he thought the concept of his role in the TV show demonstrated “the possibility there could be an African-American president, any type of president that puts the people first.”
Haysbert told the press this week that his role as President Palmer also seemed to “confuse people.” He says people would approach him on the street “every day, almost every hour, and ask me to run.” I laughed out loud and then thought about it for a few minutes before I sat down to write this blog.
If I didn’t know better I wouldn’t believe Haysbert but I actually do. Many people “confuse” facts with fiction and elections demonstrate this about as much as any ritual in our culture. Most of what we know is not grounded in facts and in the end millions will vote, so the pollsters tell us, based upon image and impression. Personally, I liked David Palmer so maybe Dennis Haysbert should run. I bet he could get some serious support if the media gave him a free pass on his total lack of qualifications