The media present the perfect platform for democracy to take place and if the mass media were less biased it would present the perfect public sphere for political debate. The public sphere has allowed more individuals to be a part of public debate since Athenian time (McGuigan 2005). Though this discussion is not aimed at biased media disrupting the democratic capabilities of the public sphere, but rather looking at how other media within the public sphere affects an individual’s attention to “Real issues” and thus the political landscape loses the audience’s attention to popular culture content.
Popular culture has had a significant impact on the media sphere; Berkwoitz (2009) states that it is often hard to distinguish between journalism and popular culture and it is up to the audience over what they define as journalism. While McGuigan (2005) discusses how audiences have become “amused consumers” therefore, making them unresponsive to the bigger issues. McGuigan’s (2005) ‘amused consumers‘ is regarding current popular culture where the audience learns from melodrama’s and the news is consumed with trivial matters such as celebrity news. How does this provide any democratic platform for political issues?
The role of the media is to inform citizens so they are able to adequately make decisions and thus be involved in debate within the public sphere which effectively could affect policy. Below is a screen shot of the Facebook trending list from my personal account. It shows that a Government policy is third trending compared to Gwyneth Paltrow’s divorce which is trending significantly higher, showing that the audience prefers to debate about celebrities lives rather than state issues. It also seems that citizens are only interested in politics when it relates to the politician’s personal life as Castell’s states “Public interest in official politics is mediated largely by scandal” (McGuigan 2005).
Therefore, popular culture seems to have overthrown politics because the audience seems to be more receptive to public scandal than participatory democracy.
Berkowitz, D 2009, “Journalism in the broader cultural Mediascape”, Journalism, vol. 10, no.3, pp.290-292
McGuigan, J 2005, “The Cultural public sphere”, Cultural Studies, vol.8, no.4, pp.427-443.