We often long for the days when reasoned debate and substantive policy discussions shaped democratic discourse. But let’s be real. It is unlikely that such a time ever existed, or at least not to the extent that we remember it through rose-colored glasses.
Once upon a time, political discourse was often dominated by a small elite of educated men (by the way, mostly white men). These men were more able to engage in reasoned debate because they shared a common understanding of the world and the issues at hand.
The world has changed dramatically since those days. As we’ve discussed in previous episodes, the rise of mass media and the internet has made it possible for anyone to participate in political discourse, regardless of their education or background. This has led to a more diverse and fragmented public sphere, in which it is more difficult to find common ground.
Political consultants strategically tap into people’s emotions, harnessing outrage as a potent tool to galvanize support and rally their base. By framing political discourse as a battle of good versus evil, consultants create a polarized landscape where rational dialogue takes a backseat to visceral reactions.
As we navigate the waters of contemporary politics, it is essential to remain vigilant to the manipulation at play. Serazio challenges us to question the authenticity of our political landscape. He urges us to reclaim reasoned deliberation and to resist the allure of outrage-driven politics that serves only to further divide us.
So let’s Unmask the Politics of Branding and Authenticity with Michael Serazio.
Michael Serazio is an associate professor in the Department of Communication at Boston College. His research and teaching focuses on media production, advertising, popular culture, political communication, and new media.
His latest book is The Power of Sports: Media and Spectacle in American Culture (NYU Press, 2019), a behind-the-scenes investigation that draws upon dozens of interviews with leaders and professionals in media and business.
He is currently working on a book about how authenticity is strategized in politics, advertising, and pop culture.
Branding politics: Emotion, authenticity, and the marketing culture of American political communication