When something ruffles our feathers or excites us we ‘tweet’ for joy, expressing our opinion via social networking, the 21st Century public sphere. What is the public sphere? In plain English it’s a space where citizens debate common concerns (below image includes more detail).
In McKee’s ‘Introduction: The public Sphere’ he stated it had become “too trivialized, commercialised, fragmented and causing citizens to become too apathetic to important public issues”.
As a result we are becoming lazy and passive citizens and disconnecting ourselves with politics and the government:
Tabloids and gossips magazines have become the new ‘mediated’ public sphere, as McKee says a place where we find out:
Previous access to the public sphere was controlled in terms of the technology greatly affecting the audience’s social participation however social platforms such as twitter and Facebook have allowed audience to have more control over what they consume and their capacity to interact.
One show that has sparked mass controversy is Fox’s Glee, a musical comedy spanning over 4 seasons (83 episodes) and counting.
The show introduces and debates social issues such as:
– Teen pregnancy, underage drinking, texting while driving
– Sexual preferences :Gay, lesbian, transgender
– Domestic violence and bullying
– Discrimination again race and disability
– Religion and Economic status
– Plus the usual teen anxieties such as popularity, control, autonomy, and discernment.
While the show has more entertainment value it does expose its viewers to these issues and subtly educate and discuss these hot topics as the episode addressing domestic abuse aired while the Violence Against Women Act was being debated for renewal in Congress, the show commenting as the victims states: “I was shocked, I was ashamed, so I made excuses for myself to make it okay. And I heard you girls say that you thought your boyfriends would never do anything to you like that. And a week ago, I would have said exactly the same thing.”
The show has a reputation as a socially-conscious and cutting-edge program, integrating social issues and educating the mainstream, changing popular culture and forever defined not by their musical numbers and duets but through the aspect of representative media.