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31 July, 2013

"Extremely human" politicians and the transformation of image makers to ... image breakers

by system failure

How you present a prime minister in such a way that appears to be doing the right thing, while in reality is doing the opposite? You try to present him as strong, unbreakable, confident with himself. This was, generally, the tactics of an old school of image makers, in order some politics to gain public acceptance, or, in order to promote specific politicians.

During the first debate in TV's history, between John Kennedy and Richard Nixon in September 1960, Kennedy had gained the impressions since, his picture reaching the audience was much better than Nixon's. He appeared fresh, much younger, answering all the questions straightly. The debate was crucial for Kennedy's victory in the presidential elections.

Many things have changed since then. The image of "unwavering" politician has been shifted to a more human personality, closer to the image of the average citizen, by the new generations of image makers. The new directions of image makers to politicians, included more simplicity, more spontaneity, plenty of jokes, tactics which made politicians more accessible and likeable and less distant.

Today, things have changed so much that, the primary question as well as the answer are totally different, in such a degree that, image makers have been transformed into ... image breakers!

Therefore, the question could be like this: How do you make a prime minister to appear like he tries really hard to balance things, while doesn't have too many options? And, the possible answer: You present him as tired, like he's exhausted because he tries too much. And finally - in the case of the Greek prime minister - through a small "mistake", the camera catches him cursing his ... head and himself because he confused words during a statement. What is more human than this? This is something which almost everyone does when he's angry with himself.

What is the message of a prime minister under the instructions of the image breakers (ex - image makers), through this picture?

First, "look, I'm one of you, I do what I can, do not expect miracles, compromise with that and don't ask for more". To what should we compromise? One might wonder. We should compromise with the "big achievement" of reducing tax in bar-restaurant services in August and after, which means, during the remaining part of the tourist season, while at the same time, we must expect new taxes, massive layoffs, privatizations, further cuts in wages and further dissolve of the social state.

Second, there are no secret deals behind the camera. What you will see, is only a tired prime minister cursing himself.

Whether cameraman's mistake was real or not, image breakers know very well what they must do.

In the United States, the case of the New York City mayoral candidate is characteristic. What was left for the image breakers to do, when the scandal had been exposed, was to break his image, and promote his "extremely human" side and his natural, human passions. It seems that they managed to gain sympathy for Anthony Weiner, especially from the younger people because youngest generations are more progressive in sexual matters and the corresponding "usage" of social media. Also, in this case, whether the scandal had been purposely exposed or not, image breakers knew very well what to do.

The transformation degree of the image breakers, is an indication of the disdain of politics today. Apart the fact that, most people know the communicative tricks of the past, their basic philosophy has changed since they accept rationally that things are what they are and nothing can be done. Thus, people rationally accept that, big interests are so powerful that, if someone wants to deal with them, must be some kind of a superior being. Therefore, image breakers do nothing more than to adapt to this thinking, continuously promoting the human side of politicians and the corresponding message: "look, there are no supermen, no saviors, we do what we can, compromise with that and do not ask for more". In this way, a vicious circle is created: the more this image is promoted, the more politics disdain and reverse, thus, the more politics disdain, the more this image is promoted.

In Greece, the biggest slice of the electoral pie goes to Nea Dimokratia, the Right-wing party of the governmental coalition. Nea Dimokratia is turning mostly to the "rational" Right voters. The main Left-wing party opposition, SYRIZA, follows at short distance. It is remarkable that, despite the fact that SYRIZA's leader, Alexis Tsipras, is much younger than Nea Dimokratia's leader and prime minister Antonis Samaras, adopts accurately the communicative tactics of the latter, concerning his image, while his rhetoric is totally different, due to his Leftist ideology. This shows that, image is playing a key role and that societies are not ready for radical changes. Both Samaras and Tsipras, when they are not in parliament, or, in open public speeches, where controversy is often intense, they appear "extremely human", almost tired, speaking slow and in a low voice.

Because what matters most, is the picture that reaches audience, which must be compatible to the present common sense, leading to the present "rationalism" and not to the system's subversion. Societies today, not only afraid revolutions, but also politicians who dare to speak through a deeply radical language, and, the corresponding image related to them.

Is this truly about image breakers' new tactics or something more terrifying happens? Is the tired face of politicians a reality? Is this a proof of the total eclipse of the political dream and surrender, without terms, to the "rationalism" of our days? Maybe it's about all these things together.

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