The Conversation Spain
‘Netflixication’ of political (communication)
netflix The events depicted in this film took place in Minnesota in 1987. At the request of the survivors, the names have been changed. Out of respect for the dead, the rest has been told exactly as it occurred. (The events described in this film took place in Minnesota in 1987. At the request of the survivors, the names have been changed. Out of respect for the dead, the rest have been told exactly as they occurred). Fargo (Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, 1996). Who remembers Mozart? We mean the real one, not Miloš Forman’s frivolous and goofy Amadeus. Or who remembers the Nobel John Nash? The real one, not the (almost) always charismatic Russell Crowe. Or who remembers what really happened at the “Chicago 7 trial”? The one that took place in 1968 and not in the epic imagination of an ever bombastic Aaron Sorkin. Was Queen Charlotte (consort of George III) black? Who really knows Phyllis Schlafly? Ragnar Lothbrok? Catherine the Great? Or does anyone remember that “Bella ciao” is a song originally from the Italian region of Emilia Romana and not from La casa de papel? Or who knows with aseptic precision the private businesses, and some public ones, of Juan Carlos I? The real ones, of course, not all those suggested in the video that Podemos has published with images mounted with the former Head of State to the rhythm of Narcos. There are as many series recommendations made by the second vice president of the Government of Spain as the number of criticisms it receives. Not so much because of their artistic or series criteria as because of the time spent evaluating the extensive catalog of their usual streaming providers. Despite this, the careful selection of titles and recommendations shows a sequence that follows a simple premise (maybe not consciously, or yes): make reality understandable. Time is by far the most important resource for politics. A scarce resource to which, if we add the complexity of the policy, the result is an apparent disinterest. Apart from the factors that traditionally explain political participation, there are several studies that relate it to the ability of citizens to understand politics. For example, the findings of Shulman and Sweitzer show that when political language is simple, citizens experience greater accessibility. This, in turn, allows information to be accepted and political interest is favored. An interest that, logically, positively influences participation. These experiments that relate the complexity or simplicity of language with interest and political participation have, in turn, demonstrated the capacity for cognitive manipulation. With a simple grammatical change and the use of specific references, political language becomes simpler and, therefore, more understandable. An understanding that sparks interest and political participation. An effective application of the feelings-as-information theory. Narcos, La Veneno, El collapso, Baron Noir, Press … are some of the references that have been used to explain complex issues (and position ourselves before reality). This is not an exercise similar to the determined and driven analysis carried out by friends like Beers & Politics or Cámara Cívica. The purpose is not to identify political theories, concepts or phenomena in series or other pop culture products. The objective, this time, follows a more direct and effective strategy. Series from the Netflix, Filmin, HBO, or any other provider catalog are used to create references. Some simple coordinates that help citizens, at least the followers, to find their way around the roadmap. Either to set the starting point, or to set the destination. The use of these references simplifies reality, makes it more understandable, but also has another purpose. The cognitive building capabilities of these products allow for powerful and long-lasting images to be created in viewers. Not only does the goofy Amadeus or the impossible historical leaps of the Ministry of Time endure. Also due to the attributes, values, principles … and, above all, the meanings associated with the recreation of a reality that, progressively, loses, to a large extent, its fictional status due to the growing familiarity it awakens. It matters little whether that familiarity is cause or consequence, starting point or destination. The important thing is that it gives way to a new frame of reference. The frame of reference is a book of codes, of meanings, which is used to construct reality. And, like any codebook, it tells us how to decipher what we perceived. How we should position ourselves before what surrounds us. A product in permanent construction. In the same way, for example, that Wayne and O’Hara, in Ford’s inspired play The Quiet Man, taught us the turmoil of passionate relationships. Today, this classic film masterpiece could easily become an example of toxic masculinity and macho abuse. Lord yourselves everywhere, even in the Netflix offering, whose presence drives a revisionist effort whose demand is only dampened by the most modern, more inclusive titles, with renewed values, etc. A reality-fiction that, although it does not quite fit with reality-non-fiction (the real one, if that already exists), fits better with what is known, even hopes, a large part of the audience. The culprit, again, is none other than that familiarity, already almost aspirational. New reality The constant hyperactivity of Premier Johnson has not made him lose the opportunity (in fact it was Oliver Dowden), perhaps pushed by Buckingham, to ask Netflix for a warning to the audience of his series The Crown. “Fiction”, a simple label that does not try to classify viewers as clumsy automatons unable to distinguish reality from fiction. It is just the staging of a new chapter, this time amplified by the sensationalism surrounding the Windsors, of a culture war that extends its battlefield to all areas. The ability to build images, the reality, of a series like The Crown, is not limited only to the creation and categorization of characters, but also to the judgment it makes about an era, a society and, why not, a government. And, it was clear, Gorbachev’s was not going to be the only one condemned by his Chernobyl. The netflixication of political communication not only simplifies political language with simple cultural references. It also appropriates the meanings and codes that series and cultural products use to build the new reality. Those that are already familiar to a growing audience. A use of language that favors interest and, at least, political debate. This gives the producers of streaming fiction, indeed the entire woke capital, a prominent role. It makes them the owners of a new discourse, not yet hegemonic, which also presents a significant generation gap. Something that Podemos is aware of and for which, in all probability, he will double his bet. They may actually be the only natives of this new reality. May they be the sole owners of this new frame of reference, of this new everyday life. This article was originally published in The Conversation. Read the original. Rubén Sánchez Medero does not receive a salary, nor does he carry out consulting work, nor does he own shares, nor does he receive financing from any company or organization that may benefit from this article, and he has declared that he lacks relevant links beyond the academic position cited.