The other day, Tucker Carlson told someone that Trump trusts television more than he trusts the pollsters, when it comes to judging the public mood. Having spent years working in TV, Trump not only knows a lot about it, but he thinks the good TV people know more about public tastes than the political professionals. The political class, of course, roared in laughter. They think Trump is a rube, of course, but they are also sure they know more about the Dirt People than the Dirt People know about themselves.
This is another case where Trump’s common sense serves him well. The people who have long careers in television, making hit shows, all have something in common. They make it their first priority to give the public what they want. Whatever political or personal agendas they have are secondary to putting on a good show. Unlike a pollster or political operator, the guy pitching TV shows has skin in the game. He has to be good at gauging public attitudes or else the show flops. The pollsters never suffer for being wrong.
The thing is though, the TV shows also tell us, the Dirt People, something about the people who rule over us. Hollywood is, after all, the class of people in American, whose duty it is to sing the praises of our rulers. It’s also their job to sell the public on the official cultural agenda. Whatever fads or social issues are being pushed by our ruling class, will be praised in our TV shows and movies. It’s why all of our action heroes are barren cat ladies now. It’s why commercials are now full of race mixing.
On rare occasions, the people making this stuff reveal things about themselves and about the ruling class in general. Someone recommended the series House of Cards to me the other day, so I have been watching a few episodes a night over the last week. As far as this stuff goes, it is not as good as I would have expected. The chattering classes swooned over it when it came out, but it is not in the same league as a show like Breaking Bad. Still, it is not terrible and it is easy to see why people would enjoy it.
Usually, political dramas are terrible because the makers are more concerned with selling a political agenda. The shows are just thinly veiled political ads for the Democrat Party and various Progressive agenda items. That means lots of shows about abortion or sexually confused people being roughed up by the honky. House of Cards, at least so far, avoids that stuff and sticks to the intrigues of the main characters. People, especially women, like watching that sort of thing and this is show clearly written by and aimed at women.
The fascinating thing is that is the politicians are portrayed as true masters of the universe. All but a few minor characters are portrayed as Bismarkian level political operators. The main character would make Machiavelli blush. Usually Hollywood portrays politicians as evil and stupid or sincere and naive. House of Cards is a one long celebration of the genius and cleverness of the political class. It’s not the issues they champion that makes them wonderful. It is their nature. They are just better than us.
That is made clear in how the politicians in the show deal with Dirt People and the news media characters. The Dirt People are all dumb and helpless without government. The main character solicits a rib joint in the first season. Once this gets out, the rib joint gets famous, but the inherent defects in the proprietor and his Dirt People habits, lead him to failure, as he inevitably does stupid Dirt Man things, like try to help his son. The main character is forced to cut him loose and let him slide back into the muck.
The portrayal of the news media is the most interesting. On the other hand, they are universally portrayed as loathsome clingers, who serve only to drag down the Cloud People. The female reporters are whores, who will bang anyone for a story. The males are feckless and stupid. The one exception thus far in the show is the owner if a newspaper that is supposed to be the Washington Post. The owner of it is a Katherine Graham like Cloud Person, but her people are all loathsome Dirt People.
This is the most interesting part of the show thus far. I’m into season two now. The main character has murdered one reporter, had one framed for a serious crime and scared another off to the hinterlands. He also has engineered the termination of a big shot editor at the Washington Post. None of this treated as a big deal. These news media types are so low on the food chain in the mind’s of the writers, that throwing one of them in front of a speeding train is no big deal. Even Trump does not hate the media that much
It is easy to overstate these things, but House of Cards is one rare example of the Hollywood people revealing things about themselves and their masters. It may be the result of Netflix producing it, rather than a Hollywood shop. For generations the people making TV shows have stuck to the script when it comes to the class structure in America. Alternatively, this was deliberate. The makers wanted to flatter the political class by telling them things they tell themselves. The result is a window into the political class.