Thursday, December 6, 2012

Here Comes the Judd?

So, I was recently asked to comment on the announcement that Ashley Judd is considering running for the US Senate seat in her home state of Kansas, where she is very, very popular. A piece was posted on this on Tuesday on the Huffington Post site, entitled Ashley Judd, Kentucky Senate Candidate? Actress 'Seriously' Exploring Democratic Bid. Written by Nick Wing, it begins
Actress Ashley Judd was a huge supporter of President Barack Obama during his reelection campaign. Now she's reportedly exploring options to take down one of his biggest congressional adversaries.
Politico reports that Judd is looking into mounting a Democratic challenge to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), citing discussions with sources with knowledge of the situation. Dan Logsdon, chairman of the Kentucky Democratic Party, told Politico that he'd heard the considerations were "serious."
Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.), who optimistically weighed in on the initial round of speculation floated last month, similarly told Politico that he had heard Judd was "serious" about the potential move to politics. Some sources, however, have suggested that she might wait until 2016, when she could challenge freshman Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.).
Okay, so it's a news leak, and that's all, it seems. Here's something more direct:

Judd, a Golden Globe-nominated actress with deep ancestry in Kentucky, addressed the rumors in a statement last month.
"I cherish Kentucky, heart and soul, and while I'm very honored by the consideration, we have just finished an election, so let's focus on coming together to keep moving America's families, and especially our kids, forward," she said.
And while the possibility of bringing in Judd's star power into a tough race against a Republican leader has excited many Democratic operatives, one of Judd's own family members doesn't believe she'll run.
"I don't think there's any possibility of that happening," Polly Judd, the 85-year-old grandmother of Ashley and her singer sister, Wynonna, told the Associated Press in a recent interview, going on to praise McConnell for his 5 terms of service.

So, that's the story, and I was asked to say a few words about this possibility on HuffPost Live, their online, streaming network that provides live programming weekdays for 12 hours a day.  They way they explain themselves is
HuffPost Live doesn't have shows in the traditional sense. Our programming is built around segments spotlighting the biggest, hottest, most engaging stories HuffPost is covering at any given moment and using them as the jumping-off points for conversations, commentary, and comedy. These segments are as long -- or as short -- as they need to be. We aren't limited by the usual time constraints of TV.

Instead, HuffPost Live emulates the online experience. No one looks at their watch and thinks, "It's 10 a.m., time for some celebrity news, I think I'll log on to HuffPost!" Instead, readers come to HuffPost to catch up on what's happening in the world and wind up getting caught up in the wide array of compelling stories we offer. You may start with a story on the upcoming presidential debate, then find yourself drawn to some celebrity news, followed by the latest viral comedy video and a segment on the benefits of napping.
As for how they get their guests, here's what they have to say
HuffPost live takes advantage of new media technologies to bring different voices to the conversation. We don't find our guests using a traditional Rolodex. Instead, we reach out via social platforms, see who is tweeting and Facebook posting something interesting on our chosen topics and contact them, asking if they want to come on HuffPost Live and expand on what they said.

And location doesn't matter. Anyone with a smartphone or tablet can instantly join us live. Picture a conversation about parenting with mothers in Kazakhstan, Kenya, and Kentucky, talking to us and to each other and to our users live via Skype or Google Hangout.

And that's how I was brought in, by way of a Google+ Hangout, which is kind of like Skype and video conferencing. I joined in via my iPhone, which is why the quality isn't great. And I happened to be teaching an MA class on Understanding New Media as an adjunct at Fairleigh Dickinson University at the time, so I made this a break, had the video projected up on the screen, but without the sound because that would create a feedback loop, and there is a significant delay, and I connected via my iPhone, with ear buds (also to prevent a feedback loop). I made the mistake of glancing up at the projected image on the screen every so often, so you'll see my eyes look off to the side. What can I say, I wasn't at my best, but it was a great experience, and the first time I had done anything like this with a Hangout and live program.

The segment is archived as part of a larger group of stories under the heading of Port Strike, the first segment being about the strike going on at the Port of Los Angeles, and the Ashley Judd story is about 5 minutes long, starting at 11:25 in, and going to 17:20.  And as always, you can click on the link and see the sites and the video there, or what it here:

So, there you have it. Just another example of the culture of celebrity, with the electronic media undermining print literacy's bias towards specialization, opening the door to the idea that anyone can do anything, because it's all reduced to a performance, or simply just an appearance, on the electronic media.  And this in turn gives us the image politics that Neil Postman so incisively critiqued back in 1985 in Amusing Ourselves to DeathBack when a movie and TV star was president of the United States, remember? If we're not careful, it could happen again!

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