“Longing for a time that has past”

highclere-xlarge_transkmahd8ez3n3qmnelsz4q-w_-53kgdh9amjcqckafrx8

We live in the 21st Century, a very modern, fast pace and for most of the world, spoiled with technology. Society in general focuses on the issues of daily life, whether political or economical issues or sport related topics. From that standpoint the producers of a British TV drama: Downton Abbey,  were reluctant in investing money in a full season that pretty much will focus on a family life in the early 20th century in Europe, pre-WWI, an era called Belle Epoque. The drama will mainly focus on an aristocratic family and their struggles to survive, to cope with tragedy and to understand that at the end of the 19th century the world was changing very fast. The show also will depict the interaction between two distinct social classes. On one side the family that inherited and owns the estate “Downton Abbey” and the other side their employees.

The producers were aiming for maybe one million viewers and never thought that their TV drama would be the most watched TV series in this segment not only in the UK, or several countries in Europe, but all over North America and the world. The series touched a bit on social issues at that time, like the Communist Soviet Revolution in 1917 with a classless view of society. Also the influence of the United States as an emerging powerful economy.

According to Jeremy Egner of the New York Times, in his article “Downton Abbey’ Reaches Around the World”; the show won the Golden Globe Award, the Primetime Emmy Award and the Guinness World Records for the most acclaimed English-language series of 2011. It earned the most nominations of any international television series in the history of the Primetime Emmy Awards. By the third season it was one of the most watched TV shows in the world. The producers probably were shocked! Definitely the actors and the whole crew were amazed with the huge success not only in the UK but worldwide.

 

modern-stone-wall2So, what happened? Why was the audience of the 21st century so interested in this “Downton Abbey” drama?

There have been social media discussions, Facebook fans pages, even university level case studies regarding Downton Abbey. The question always caught my attention, why so much interest in a TV drama for an era set 100 years ago?

I watched and must admit that even the music “intro” at the beginning of the show, makes us report to a completely different world. A more calm, not so fast pace, specially Season I prior to WWI, where society developed the “art of convivium”, meaning living in an atmosphere of convivial friendship among each other. In my opinion the audience in a certain sense was longing for something of that era. Longing for something of the past. I am not saying that everything was perfect in that era, but also not everything is perfect in our 21st century era as well. I think what was good, nice and different in that era, attracted the attention of the audience.

In our busy lives, people can take time to travel and see something  from the past. Maybe because it is easier to reflect on how the world was and from that perspective try to solve modern problems. Or simply a way of escaping from the modern problems.

 

14731104_519599248237391_1155026493006471936_n

 

 

“Something so simple…”

26barcode-b-650

It is amazing how major events in life that could shape a Nation for years to come, can rely in so simple things, based on public perception.

Let’s get for example the United States election in 1992. It may seem a long time ago, but it basically shaped the 90’s. Not only for the US but for a great part of the world.

The two final candidates were President George W. Bush (now called “senior”, since George W. Bush Jr came back in 2001) and Bill Clinton. Wow… that was a cultural battle more than a political one. The world at that time was saying good bye to the 80’s and welcoming a new technological 90’s. (Let’s just say, cassette tape was also saying good bye and CD was coming in) the old technology was being replace by new products; micro wave was well accepted in US households, computers were getting smaller and faster, vehicles were being advertised with more technological features and so on.

Other not so great things were happening too. The war in Iraq in 1990-1991 made the world a little bit concerned with the future of the world. Basically, Iraq invade Kuwait, which prompted United Nations to addressed the matter by ways of international ban on Iraq and finally USA and NATO sending its troops. I will not discuss the “rights and wrongs” of Iraq, United Nations and what cause the war in the first place, but at the end, the war was a major concern for everybody. The war ended in 1991 and elections were in 1992. The public opinion in US were under the impression that George Bush acted well and won the war. Others did not want to see another Vietnam war in their shoulders.

But after all, elections were fast approaching and both candidates were being analyzed by the public opinion. You – the readers – knows the drill; TV debates, some personal attacks here and there – nothing like today’s elections between Trump and Hillary – and some surprises, like candidate Bill Clinton appearing in the late show tv wearing sunglasses and playing saxophone. Yes, something so simple as “sunglasses and saxophone” cause a bit of surprise back then. The media actually used some catchy words like “he is cool” and “he is different”, etc…

For George Bush, it was not his policies, success or failures of his Administration – since he was in power as a President – but what cause a shift in perception for the public opinion was a visit that Bush did to a supermarket! Yes, again, something so simple like visiting a supermarket! Bush was amazed with the technology and how a supermarket teller could use a scanner and process items very fast. Bush held three items and used the scanner in front of the cameras with a happy and kind of surprise smile. Well, something so simple made the whole average american to perceive Bush as “out of touch” with middle class citizens. The New York Times and many other newspapers – as well as TV news – did not helped Bush with his “new discover” – supermarkets had scanners to process items in 1991 – The New York Times wrote: “As President Bush travels the country in search of re-election, he seems unable to escape a central problem: This career politician, who has lived the cloistered life of a top Washington bureaucrat for decades, is having trouble presenting himself to the electorate as a man in touch with middle-class life.”

Something so simple basically decided the faith of Bush! Bill Clinton was now being seen as “new and modern” the candidate in touch with average voters, the ones that make the vast majority during elections. At the end Bill won the election, not solely because of his policies but  because of the public perception of Bush being “out of touch” in a moment that society wanted something new.

Here is the Youtube video of Bill Clinton playing saxophone!  Ironically, in today’s elections, Clinton – here as Hillary Clinton – is the one seeing as “a career politician” and Trump is the new guy! Let’s see the results.

 

 

Social Media and Social-Political Issues

images-13

USA elections: A Never-Ending Social Media Battle

The 2016 elections in the United States are being deemed one of the most commented inside and outside the US borders.

I don’t think that it is mainly because of the Global Economy world, that we live today, forcing and kind of pushing every one to pay more attention to what is going on in the most powerful countries in the world.  Actually, Global Economy is a term that was launched in the early 90’s and progressed to be a reality, way more than a term or word used by business people, politicians, teachers and  media in general (As per media in general, I referred to the 90’s media, not the Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, fast on-line news, and whole web that we have today. But just your regular television and radio news along side with your daily newspaper). Yes we are very spoiled today. I don’t think that Global Economy as a reality is the only cause of the international attention to other countries issues, like  the United States election.

I think what is one of the main cause is the fact that social media empowered everyone to have access and to voice a comment – therefore connecting and engaging – on topics that used to be outside of our “control zone”. I think that in the early 80’s the US elections were important, and the whole cold war between countries – US and Russia for example –  would draw the attention of everyone, even outside the involved countries. But like in the 80’s, 70’s, 60’s and so on, they did not have the power of social media. Every decade of the 20th Century were marked by serious and sometimes tragic events, but the connection with all those events, were nothing in comparison  to the level of connectivity we have today due to the social media.

That is the reason, why both nominees – Democrat and Republican  are utilizing all social media options out there (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc…) it is so powerful that candidates were tweeting at 3 AM, after the first debate, and people were commenting. (I don’t know who would be “tweeting” at 3 AM but some people did).

The on-line media had a huge traffic increase in their websites, such as CNN, Washington Post, Washington Examiner, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald, Seattle Times, as a few examples. In Canada, CBC News, Global News, CTV News, National Post, Toronto Star, etc.. have the same experience. People like to share their options, point of view and just vent what they think is right or wrong.

According to The Huffington Post article “The Game Changer: Social Media and the 2016 Presidential Election“, written by R. Kay Green – CEO of RKG Marketing Solutions;  both candidates are leveraging the power of social media and trying to connect with voters.

We can easily say that this is the power of a simple “like” on Facebook, if that “like” continuously is being click among 90 million viewers. Even better if the viewers reply with a comment and share with other social media, like Twitter and blogs.

(Please reply with your comments and I hope to see you back in my blog next week).