Why I watch West Wing reruns…
September 6, 2008, 7:35 am
Filed under: Life is Wierd, Ramble, Ramblings | Tags:
West Wing

West Wing

At some point during my high school curriculum we covered the medieval era and the subject of folk songs.  I believe there was another name for them, but in all you could label them as folk songs.  Essentially, without NBC, ABC, Fox, and CBS people relied on something different than a box of wires.  If they heard a story from Tivo, then it probably came from some peasant or blacksmith that didn’t much care for naming his offspring.  I digress, the point is that the peasantry would share these stories with one another at home or in the drinking houses of their time.  They did this, said my teacher, to forget about the dark times in which they lived and escape their reality.  Many times since that conversation, I think about how TV and movies are our version of these folk songs.  These are our escapes from our personal realities.

In that spirit, I thought I might share why my own reality needs a little escaping.  The West Wing in my opinion is one of the best series ever written for television.  Spawned as a play for the stage, and adapted for the small screen, Aaron Sorkin depicts a bit of unreality in which politically people get things done.  The writing quick and witty.  At this very moment, my DVD is paused in the middle of a West Wing scene.  I like escaping to this unreality because of a love I have for noble causes.  A group of people working for what they think is a true, noble cause.  Also, it seems that these characters find so much more meaning in what they do when I compare it to my marketing of packaged lines of code to the corporate masses.

My unfavored reality aside, another reason for watching this show came to mind as I watched the Sarah Palin speech at the RNC.  Some would say she did a great job of rattling the ol’ saber pointing out faults in the democratic party from stage props to religion(or lack thereof).  She got them with her “I don’t know about these guys” grins and winks.  Her Alaskan charm melted the hearts of the GOP, and they soon were cheering loud enough for the five people in the town over which she was mayor could hear.  I thought of the West Wing how worked hard to point out that on both sides of the aisle people were trying to get things done.

Looking at the Democrats, there really isn’t much to look at over there either.  This is no Bush-Kerry election, but in the end we all end up saying that we’re picking the lesser of two evils.  Plato once said that true leaders are the ones that only lead because they are forced to because there is no one else to lead (paraphrasing).  This contest is sexy, especially with the addition of Mayor of Alaska (or is it Governor).  We’ve got precedent setting on a racial and gender basis occurring on both sides.  We can stand proud in the knowledge that candidates on both sides are running when a short time earlier in the history of this country this wouldn’t happen.  But where are these Platonic (I think that works) leaders.  Where’s my Colin Powell?  He chose not to lead for his own personal reasons, but he declined.  Let’s get him.  Where’s the guys/gals that stand firm on issues that evolved through personal discovery and research.  Not one guy that walks a political tight rope and another that is floating on his hot air abstracts that vaguely resemble ideals.

The West WIng offers a truly fictional escape from this political reality to one where people still try and accomplish some good.  I acknowledge this is one of those three AM ramble sessions that I’m prone to writing.  But I can’t help but wonder how my own MTV generation and the current texting generation isn’t influencing the way the news media are disseminating the news.  Britney Spears and Paris Hilton’s recent police busts have served only to further dumb us down.

Once on a show, one character points out to the other the difference between Clark Kent and Superman.  “Superman is who he is…” he says, “Clark Kent is the way he views humanity.  Weak, feeble, and inept.”  If those traits that Superman portrays as Clark Kent are his reflected opinions of humanity.  Let’s consider the way the News Media wraps up truth and their reflected opinion of our humanity.  Their opinion is we care more for Brangelina’s 100th adopted baby, some poor girl’s pregnancy, and something that a movie star said whe he was drunk.

In all, I watch the West Wing because its an escape to a world where the reflected humanity is a little less about being entertained, but more about being informed.  Final thought…as a missionary I once reached for a cup to eat my cereal out of because of a lack of clean bowls and I was too lazy to wash them.  Another Elder stopped me, and washed a bowl and handed it to me.  He said, “Elder why settle for what will due when you can have what you need.”  Think about it.

Process that and your haircut.  Free dinner to the person who can figure out that last haircut line.

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