Print Politics

Using Multimedia Storytelling to Beat Election Season Ennui

Are you bored, tired, disinterested, ready for a snack? If so, you may be one of the millions of Americans suffering from…CAMPAIGN FATIGUE!

Reuters reported last week that only six months into this election's two-year long campaign trail, we're already experiencing the common human phenomena of getting tired of something that drags on too long, and is, essentially, kinda boring. But why is our country's most important political event so boring, and what can campaigners do to spice things up for the average voter?

The original article on the subject of campaign fatigue, as well as the offshoots that it spawned in news sources around the world, all seemed to focus on the 'disturbing' condition as though the average voter was actually suffering.

The real problem with campaign fatigue is that by the time the election actually rolls around, we might all be too bored with it to bother voting. Thus another election season would close with zero positive change taking place, and everybody wondering what happened to all that enthusiasm we saw in the early stages of campaigning.

It makes you wonder if all the action surrounding online campaigning this season is helping to stave off the ennui, or to magnify it. I remember when the candidates first got their flashy websites and starting posting videos on Youtube, I was so excited, but now it' almost an issue of information overload. There are so many videos and blogs out there, bunched together in random and disorganized conglomeration, that I don't feel able to assess the situation clearly anymore. And unless you follow the election news religiously, I'm guessing you feel the same way.

So, what can candidates do to keep us interested? I'd say that the answer is already there, in the very nature of our subject matter. Campaign advertising and campaign coverage need to get organized, and need to take their game to the next level. Instead of offering voters a random hodgepodge of issues and news stories, campaigns need to tell us a story.

We live in a culture of media celebrity. And who can blame us for our vices? Our forms of entertainment are so interesting, and our celebrities so fabulous, that it's almost impossible to look away.

Case in point: the two candidates leading the primary race right now are, of course, Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani, a.k.a. the two people that were already celebrities before this whole amazing race began. Coincidence? I think not.

And like a true celebrity, Hillary, at least, is pulling out all the stops to keep her audience interested. Over the last several weeks, she's been running a "Pick My Campaign Song" contest that culminated in an at least semi-hilarious video of her and Bill spoofing the conclusion of The Sopranos.

At this point, Hillary is the only candidate turning her campaign into a sort of multimedia variety show, which means that she's the only candidate that's really on the right track. Like a hit TV series or a blockbuster trio of movies, candidates need to turn their campaigns into major media events, and that means cashing in on their celebrity status and doing it up like Hillary.

I imagine the election campaigns of the future being much like a season of a hit TV show. Main campaign points should become a plotline. Family members, campaign managers, and volunteers could become major characters, and things like rallies, debates, and media run-ins could be spun to advance the story.

This idea really isn't as cheesy and basely commercial as it sounds. It's actually the ultimate cure for campaign fatigue, and it will bring voters close to their elected officials in a way never before possible. At it's most basic, it would be turning an election campaign into a story filled with thrills, chills, and touching human insights. Everybody loves stories, and instead of seeing a candidate's campaign as something that's feeding us the same boring lines over and over again, we'd get to see how the process actually works and grows and moves towards a suspense-filled conclusion.

It would be the ultimate reality show, and so much more than that, because it would involve all the other aspects of campaigning as well. The infrastructure is already there, all these campaigns need is a camer. If you can have a reality show about running a restaurant, surely you could build a whole media empire around running for President. And with new “seasons” running only once every four years, campaign fatigue would become a thing of the past.


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