There is a truism about reality TV: It isn’t real.
The shows are scripted, the plots manipulated and the performers run through the same type of ego-crushing casting process that any actor endures.
So that is why the word that the GOP tapped a firm to cast “hicky” actors for ads against West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin’s Senate campaign is more laughable than anything. Real Americans just can’t be counted on to come across as real Americans. (What we really need to see are videos of their stage directions).
That’s why all of the last-minute efforts of both parties to speak to the heartland — think John Kerry in hunting gear — can get absurd. There’s also a shelf life to the “real” Americans. Joe the Plumber was it for a few days in 2008, but after some well-publicized efforts to remain in the limelight, it doesn’t seem like such a good idea now.
For what it is worth, President Obama is going to do a townhall for MTV on Oct. 14. Who will get to go? Well, there’s a casting call out now in Backstage.
Polls show most voters are so cynical about politics that they probably assume those appearing in 30-second spots are actors. If this election is about blaming it on the Beltway, why would they suddenly be won over by their corn-pone stereotypes? In other words, not even the plain speak is really plain speak.
This is perhaps best highlighted by Joe Klein’s cover story in Time in which he writes about his effort to find the real America this midterm, and captures something that the polished ads do not.
He writes, “I talked to dozens of politicians running for office and hundreds of voters. The voters were, with few exceptions, more eloquent and unpredictable — and, of course, candid — than the politicians. They tended to be extremely frustrated with the national conversation as presented by the news media. They tended to be more anxious than angry — although the infuriated, fist-shaking third of the electorate, the Tea Party cohort, seemed a far more powerful and immediate presence in people’s minds than the President of the United States or his party. Republicans seemed more talkative than Democrats, and more precise about their solutions: lower taxes and less spending. “People say to me, ‘I don’t like the Democrats because I don’t know what they stand for,’ ” said Lisa Urias, a Latina businesswoman in Phoenix. “I tell them, ‘I hate the Republicans because I know exactly what they stand for.’ “”