24 Jul



Hey, everybody plays the fool, sometime 

Use your heart just like a tool, listen baby 

They never tell you so in school, I wanna say it again, 

Everybody plays the fool  – Songwriters: K. WILLIAMS, R. CLARK, J.R. BAILEY



No one plays the fool better than Americans. Where would we be without the ability to believe so wholeheartedly in the unreality of reality TV? Perhaps the bachelorette does believe, as she tells each family of her five finalists, that she thinks she is falling in love with their son/brother. But do we follow along so blindly that we believe it? Does anyone really believe survivor castaways are ever in danger while being followed night and day by a camera crew? And if anyone believes that a culture which produced Michelangelo, Galileo and me also produced shallow summers at the Jersey shore, I am insulted.


We suspend disbelief when watching a fictional production. No human bodies are autopsied on forensic cop shows. We choose to adopt an air of disbelief. But, do we choose to suspend disbelief when we watch broadcast news? Are we such fools as this? No. Since the news contains so much, if not more, entertainment as hard news we are to be excused for confusing the two. Herein lies the dilemma. We are foolishly confused between what is real and what is not. We have been in training by Ad Men to live in suspended disbelief for many years. We are told we are on a destination for truth when we are really on a path to buy the goods we are being sold by business and politics alike.


When the gunman entered the Aurora, Colorado theatre clad in body armor many believed he was part of the show. We have become so inured to the blending of reality and fantasy entertainment that we no longer are able to distinguish what is a game of misperception or the rhetoric of disinformation from factual reality. This confusion is rampant throughout our media world, where so many of us, including our children, spend a great deal of our time. Whether a video game transports us to an artificial world, a movie promotion stages a fantasy experience to enhance the movie-going experience itself, or a music video stages a mock-up of its lyrical message we eagerly go along with the unreality. This is not simply foolish;it is dangerous.


Such persuasive unreality feels real because it is used to touch our hearts. It speaks to our feelings, not our thoughts.  And yet, it pushes our thoughts to accept the feelings as real. The bachelorette and her viewers feel her love, and we all believe the feeling is real. The survivors and their viewers feel their fear, and we all believe they are afraid.and when real threats appear in our lives, we too often do not recognize them until it is too late. We fought a war in Iraq because of our inability to recognize a lie.


Creating a shared feeling, even among fools, is a powerful rhetorical tool. As we watch political ads, read internet messages, even read blogs we must remember how easily we fall prey to the feelings they compel in us. We should use our hearts just like a tool, and not be played like fools. As President Obama reminds us, “We are better than that.” They do not tell us this in school, so I just wanted to tell you this.T


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