Thursday, October 16, 2008

I don’t think the moose loves it

Sarah Palin, campaigning in New Hampshire (is NH in play?), on why Alaskans are exactly like New Hampshironians: “We all love good moose hunting.”

A John Travolta movie due to start filming in Paris was called off after ten of the production’s stunt vehicles were torched overnight. The movie’s title: From Paris with Love.

In the 1960 presidential debates, famously, people who listened on the radio thought Nixon won while people who watched on tv thought Kennedy won. In 2008, though, we have many more options, and I’m curious about the effect of that balkanization on perceptions. I was doing the blog thing, so I was watching, writing and reading the online CNN transcript simultaneously, which meant I was listening more than watching and managed to miss most of the visuals, such as Sarah Palin’s winks during the veep debate and McCain’s air quotes last night around “health” of the mother, which make his callous, dismissive words so, so much more offensive – let’s look at that again now (20 seconds):

Wow, what a dick.

I watched the first debate on CNN but was so distracted by the constant movement of the audience reaction squiggles on the sides of the screen that I switched to uncluttered PBS for the later ones. I’m thinking now that that was a mistake, because PBS also mostly eschewed the split screen, which means I missed McCain fuming, smirking, twitching and rolling his eyes while Obama was speaking, and failed to get a full sense of just how irritable and petulant, undisciplined and unpresidential, he was being, like radio listeners in 1960 didn’t see Nixon’s flop-sweat and shiftiness. Of course there’s YouTube now, and embedded video clips like the one I just used, but it’s not quite the same as the cumulative effect over the course of 90 minutes.

But how many other versions of the 2008 debates were there? What did CBS or NBC, Fox, the BBC and MSNBC do? What other forms of “helpful” screen clutter were there, and how did they shape how viewers perceived Obama and McCain? What did Obama do while McCain was speaking – and do you think he practiced it? Share your viewing/listening experiences and thoughts in comments.

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