A historical series ties together the mobilizations of the 1980s, the spectacularization of politics in the 1990s, and the current digital sphere, although citizen action continues to raise questions.
Although neither the book of Ana Slimovich Social networks, television and Argentine elections nor does this note deal with the film Argentina, 1985 of Santiago Miter and the facts that are related there, cannot ignore the context that is trying to be reconstructed.
The recovery of the democracyin the mid-1980s, after seven years of terror and silence, involved, among other things, the return to the street and the recovery of public space. Although there had been a history of massive calls – the most remembered is the Festival of American Solidarity held in 1982 and in support of the Malvinas fighters – in the mid-1980s, there was no doubt that the political conversation took place again in the open air.
Since the television did not broadcast live the judgmentit was normal to see a crowd crowded at the gates of courtsa group of people gathered and expectant before the collective promise to do justice.
Just a few years later, As the 90s began, the panorama turned towards a different area. The privatization of the main channels of TV which allowed, among other things, the improvement in the technical conditions of transmission was combined with the end of the century climate of disbelief in public institutions.
What authors like Gilles Lipovetsky they called postmodernity and they characterized it as the end of great stories, it adapted to a type of television that accommodated political discourse to the spectacle and made the spectacle its representation.
So not alone political opinion programs proliferatedbut they themselves led to the emergence of a type of specialist in television image, an antecedent of the figure of the coach who trained the guest to perform as well as possible in front of the camera, but also, in the face of editing tricks, tendentious shots and other tricks of television directors.
The turn of the century increased this trend for two different but complementary reasons: the public space became increasingly hostile, insecure and uncomfortable, while the private sphere built increasingly comfortable environments and devices. In the meantime, the media multiplied thanks to the constant connection provided by the internet.
Thus, television (as a device, but also as a medium) gave rise to other, much more customized screens. At the end of the first decade of this century, the meeting between the media and political discourse could not avoid venturing into the social networks.
The consequences of this first approach can be found in the book by the PhD in Social Sciences and Conicet researcher Ana Slimovich Social networks, television and Argentine elections –edited by Eudeba–. This work, with which Slimovich received his doctorate in 2016, can be read as the end point of a process which, after more than ten years, remains an unknown quantity.
Thus, issues related to the use of parody in massive television programs, such as the parody of “Great brother-in-law” in the Marcelo Tinelli program, or the use of personalized Facebook pages to speak to a specific constituencythey do nothing more than update the question about audiences.
To whom or who did these candidates speak at that time? Who are they talking to now? Is it possible that there is a type of digital citizen participation with its own weight? whatDo discussions on social networks build new ways of doing politics? Or are they a mere trivialization of an outdated intervention? What kind of citadel does the citizenry inhabit?
If we were to draw an imaginary line that went from citizen participation in the 80s, through the spectacularization of the political image to the construction of ad hoc and hyper personalized discourses that “speak to you”, we would find that the problem has been and continues to be, to define what is meant by citizenshipwhat type of role is assigned to it and in what places.
It is a question, once again, of knowing if participation in the public sphere needs, or not, a body in presence, from the encounter with other bodies or if, on the contrary, contemporary societies can build communities and cause real changes, even from the digital sphere towards a related space.
A space that could well be represented, or questioned, by the huge influx of spectators to movie theaters thanks to a film that recalls the moment in which citizens took back the streetsor the opposite.
Social networks, television and Argentine elections