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Singing, building, decorating, beauty, athletics, and dancing gave pleasure and “entertainment” because the participants not only accomplished the acts but became spectacles to themselves—and to others, their equals and fellow-citizens, who had done just the same activities.Republican entertainments might often take the form of the contest or the demonstration.We’d do it marrying, arguing, staring at the wall, dining, studying our feet, holding contests, singing, sneezing. Well, we’d plug them in and leave the tape running for our real life.In this underlying dream, we were neither exactly wrong nor right. The techno-utopians’ fantasies shifted to the internet.The citizen is not sovereign alone, but sovereign through his activity in a community of peers.The drama, when it was given too much power, crowded out the true entertainments of any republican political community— entertainments whose delights must be rooted in that self-regard and free judgment in daily activity which strengthens the bonds of citizen to citizen.“Let the spectators become an entertainment to themselves”: a part of TV has always done this.It has meant, at different times, local programming, Huntley and Brinkley, the national news at 6 and local news at 11, talk shows and talent shows, in their representatives—in our only truly national universal medium—and you’re left to ask what will accomplish it best today.
But the philosopher loved a republic more.) Rousseau expected that a republic’s civic entertainments would be displays of what people already do.that television will be more than it is: that it will not only sit in every home, but make a conduit for those homes to reach back to a shared fund of life.The utopia of television nearly came within reach in 1992, on the day cable providers announced that cable boxes would expand to 500 channels.In the immediate interaction between two people, each staring into the other’s eyes and trying to persuade him toward escape or incrimination, drugged by fear when not hazy with narcotics, you see the hidden face-to-face interactions of your countrymen.
And on , with wary daters eyeing each other over pasta dinners, leglessly drunk in a hundred indistinguishable neon dives and, afterwards, on the best dates, mumbling vulgar blandishments in hot tubs, you see that romance is not angelic recognition nor simple animal lust but a negotiation—the same as in the arrest.In the endless scenes of arrests, traffic stops, drive-by warnings (“OK, you ain’t going to do it again”), domestic disturbances, and interviews with complainants (“Calm down, ma’am, just tell me what happened”), it becomes clear that justice, at the level of the arrest, has less to do than you might have thought with the code of law.