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Can Politicians be Heroes?: A Look at Politics in Entertainment Media



I’m not a politically-minded person at all, but I still have SOME preconceptions of what “politics” entails. Most of what I understand about politics comes from what I’ve seen in Movies, read in Books and heard through Songs; from what I’ve gathered, there’s nothing welcoming about the world of politics at all. But that’s solely conjecture. But that’s also the beauty of Entertainment media.

Entertainment is about pleasing the masses, and one way or another, the creators of works of Entertainment, seek to please the masses. Not necessarily make them happy, but to please them all the same. By way of Entertainment, the greatest lessons and the most information may be disseminated. We are taught in a way that interests us, we are taught in a way that most matches our way of thinking, be it optimistic or pessimistic; it’s through looking at politics through a somewhat more subjective “lens”, that we truly understand the grander implications of the very word “politics”, and the reaction it garners in the masses.

So how do the masses look at politics?

Well, judging by what I’ve seen, there’s always a desire for “change”

The word “change” is marked by a negative reaction to the present. People are just not happy with the way things are currently run. In this way, the present political climate as depicted by entertainment media is almost always shown to be highly negative and in need of a “change”. To represent the source of all this negativity, works in Entertainment media need a villain or a scapegoat. To this extent, Politicians are often considered to be the source of everything inherently “wrong” with politics – as projected by Entertainment media. Having pretty much been raised by Entertainment media, I have always agreed with this general, societal worldview, that politicians are the source of everything that’s wrong with the world.

But can they not be looked to as heroes?

The official Merriam-Webster definition of the word: "Politician"
The official Merriam-Webster definition of the word: “Politician”

Clearly politicians have a worse rep than we thought.

If, by official definition, a Politician is a “person primarily interested in political office for selfish or other narrow, usually short-minded, reasons” then clearly they must be doing something wrong. Or could it be us?

If, as I said before, Entertainment media is intended to please/interest the masses, then isn’t entertainment media a direct reflection of our own society?  Or is society a reflection of Entertainment media?

Politicians are elected officials, seen as heroes before and during elections, then seen as villains afterwards.

In numerous movies, books and songs; the Government and its appointed officials are always criticised, seen as power-hungry villains and obstructions to the greater good.

Notable examples include:

1) Francis Urquhart/Frank Underwood from the U.K./U.S. version of the “The House of Cards” TV series. Francis/Frank are both power-hungry politicians serving as the “Whip” of each of the respective political parties the two versions serve in, eventually rising to the position of Prime Minister and Secretary of the State in each of the respective versions, through corrupt and vile means.
2) Alan Richmond from the movie “Absolute Power” where his crimes include: extramarital affairs, suppression of evidence and abuse of power. In the movie, he is the President of the U.S.A.
3) Long Feng, the leader of the secretive “Dai Li”, and the Chief Adviser to the King of Ba Sing Se from Avatar: The Last Airbender; whose avarice and abuse of power, indirectly resulted in the demise of the main character and directly resulted in the capture of the city he “struggled” to protect.
4) The famous song “Won’t Get Fooled Again” by The Who, a song that outright states that electoral candidates are contemptible liars, repeatedly fooling the masses into voting for them, and regretting their decision to vote for them, post-election.

There are several more examples, but to list them all would be another task entirely. For now, this article is intended to be a starting point to critically analyse the ways in which politicians are portrayed in the media.

It is important to note that not ALL portrayals of Politicians are negative. For example, there are the Presidents of America, respectively portrayed in “Independence Day” and “White House Down”. While both are over-the-top, escapist (but still fun) fantasies; the fact is that major political figures are actually portrayed as heroic and inspiring figures. So maybe politicians CAN be looked at as heroes. But is this particular portrayal subject to the greater public’s opinion?



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