Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A Question from Twitter

"Parks and Recreation" is a mockumentary series highlighting the idiosyncrasies of the government and bureaucracies alike. This past week's episode continued to follow character Leslie Knope (played by Amy Poehler) in her campaign for city council. It featured the debate between her and her opponent, Bobby Newport (played by Paul Rudd). During the debate, the question panel was played by the journalist characters from the show, who had been notoriously exploitative and ego-centric. They decided to take a question for the candidates from Twitter, sarcastically explaining that, "apparently, that is something we do now." To play up the irony of Twitter users being held to the same accord as the journalists, the Tweet was self-indulgent and rife with short-hand text jargon such as using "2" in place of the word "to," that the questioner struggled through reading.

Silly as it may seem, the show points to a very real phenomenon that is happening amongst the news and politics today. The opinions of the "average citizen" is now being gauged through social media platforms, and users are being encouraged to use their power through these sites to get involved in the media feedback cycle. All shows and businesses are now promoting the use of Twitter as a way of the audience "getting involved" in the entertainment they are consuming. Politicians and news anchors are constantly asking people to Tweet questions and reactions to their guests on the show.    But how much power are we really willing to acquit to the general public? Sure, it is great increase accessibility and to receive publicity on the internet, but in this episode of "Parks and Recreation," we can see how opening the power that was once reserved for professional journalists has the potential of reducing serious journalism to a mere mockery.

1 comment:

  1. This is a great example of a humorous counterargument to those who champion microblogging as a venue for journalism. As a fan of the show, I also appreciate having the reference. (I taught another episode in my Art of the State class.)