Screening the Cheap Shot: Screen Culture and Politics

by Natalie Schneck

Within the medium of the screen, human error always attracts an audience. This claims truth in everything from seeing Brittany Spears drunk and stumbling to sitcom outtakes of actor’s mistakes. Why are we so attracted to failure on screen? Perhaps it provides us with an index of reality, a sense of truth about human experience through the medium of the screen. Whatever the case, framing human error is highly seductive for the viewer[s].

Unfortunately, this can be taken advantage of in the political world. An example of this is the airing of Stephane Dion’s outtakes from a television interview; Dion asked the interviewer to reiterate his question concerning the Canadian economy for clarity’ sake. Steven Harper took advantage of Dion’s seemingly uncertainty and used these outtakes as fuel for the Conservative Party’s economic platform while expressing his perception of incompetency within the Liberal Party. It can be argued that in this case, the use of the screen was entirely beneficial to the Conservative Party in regards to this past election and with the Liberal Party losing seats one must wonder:  how high are the stakes for failing on screen?