May 20, 2007

Excellent PR stunt.

The very controversial new president of France, Nicolas Sarkozy, is manipulating the media with quite an impressive ability. And, I’d say, has done so for quite a while now.
His latest PR stunt is quite twisted: right after the election, he decided to take a leave – for a “well-deserved rest”, and to “inhabit the presidential function”. Bang. Controversy all over the media in France, and the socialists just go for it. Scandalous; where does the money come from – and when it turns out it’s not the taxpayer’s but an industrial’s – has there been traffic of influences? Truly enough, the amount spent during these days was quite high (I can’t remember the exact figures, but it’s not very relevant anyway). And true, it is quite weird that a newly-elected president leaves the country right after the election. But it is entirely within his rights, all the more so as he was not invested yet.
What are the real consequences of this controversy? Something that, I’m very much afraid, we’ll have to endure during the next five years to say the least. Media that are focused on the person – the president himself – and not on the policy he seeks to implement. They fell for it this time, and also did before and during the campaign, when all you could hear was that he was a dangerous man, quick to lose his temper etc. – and the much mediatised divorce from Cécilia. Talking about her, weirdly enough, she reappears in the front of the scene – and guess what? the media don’t fail to notice and say it.
When the media focus on the person, instead of on his actions and policy, we enter a very dangerous society; and the cult of personality is only one step ahead. An example – about slavery. This year is the 200th aniversary of the abolition of slavery; and Sarkozy, as he should, attended the ceremony (note he didn’t attend the ceremony for the end of World War II, which is a bank holiday in France) – the media picked up on the fact that he had condemned “repentance” as “self-hatred” during the campaign, and insisted on the fact that he contradicted himself. Instead of looking at Sarkozy’s actions, once more, they focused on the person, taking his words about repentance as unalterable truth.
Now – it is true that the personality of a president is important – especially when world politics as concerned; but focusing on it is a very, very slippery slope.


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