VITAL SIGNSrnP O L I T I C SrnGlamour, Glitter,rnGlitz, and Gloryrnby Tomislav SunicrnThe Rise of Video PoliticsrnNobody can deny that the videospherernhas completely devouredrnthe graphosphere. The one-dimensionalrnsurreal world has hijacked the threedimensionalrnreal world. The CNN andrnABC networks in America, the FrenchrnTFl and TF2, have totally displacedrnbooks and journals. The swift, levitatingrnimage has come ahead of the solidlyrngrounded written word. No longer is thernpresidential office the center of command,rnas TV has become the epicenterrnof political power. Riots and militaryrncoups that once aimed at capturing thernprince’s palace now aim at capturing thernTV tower. The video-oriented Westernrnhemisphere in general, and HollywoodfocusedrnAmerica in particular, hasrnceased to gauge presidential candidatesrnby their “right-wing” or “left-wing” pedigreernor their Republican or Democraticrnaffiliation. Rather, it is their choice ofrnhairstyles, or the cut of their clothes,rnthat gets them media attention or proximityrnto the White House.rnUndoubtedly, with the end of historyrncomes the end of the traditional notionrnof politics. The classical war of ideas, asrnRegis Debray recently wrote, has beenrnreplaced by the war of “good looks.” Thernlast American “realpolitician,” RichardrnNixon, at least had the courage to admitrnthat his 1960 presidential campaign hadrngone sour because, unlike his rival JohnrnKennedy, he was not “likable.” Thernpostmodern ideology of good looks, coupledrnwith the video-political “image,” isrnrapidly becoming the new destiny ofrnWestern man.rnIn the laboratory of video politics thernmost important tools are p.r. strategyrnand “have a nice day” conduct. Ofrncourse, if a politician is to retain lastingrncredibility, he must also learn the politicallyrncorrect metalanguage, known asrn”baby talk.” The beauty of baby talk isrnthat it immediately disarms the interlocutorrnyet never discredits the speaker.rnIt denotes everything, without connotingrnanything. Short elliptic sentences teemingrnwith Aesopian doublespeak, andrnsmacking of sentimental succor, are thernsurest and shortest avenue to lastingrnvideo-political success. In the videosphericrngame, America takes the lead,rnthanks to her Puritan “pathos of distance,”rnas well as her apolitical candorrnthat allows all sorts of video-political escapades.rnTake the United Nations-sponsoredrnAmerican invasion of Somalia, for example.rnWhen the American marinesrnlanded on the Somali beaches, theyrncame under the rapid fire of… TV cameras.rnThe subsequent U.N. mission wasrnlargely tailored to the appetites of numerousrnTV crews, which chased thernU.N. soldiers more than the ragtag Somalirnfighters. In the same vein, the ongoingrnwar in the Balkans is also beingrnteleguided by TV cameras whose graphicrnimages of horror provide good consciousnessrnto distant prime-time viewers.rnIn a new paroxysm of vicarious humanism,rnTV masses worldwide worry aboutrnthe displaced and the deprived as long asrnthe anonymous TV elites furnish themrnwith the right dose of lacrimal material.rnIn a grotesque twist of modern politics,rnthe fleeting image of the TV world hasrndethroned the real political world.rnHenceforth, the surreal nonevent keepsrnendlessly creating the real political eventrnwith all its tragic consequences onrnbalkanized battlefields everywhere. Ifrnwe were to paraphrase Friedrich Nietzsche,rnthe TV world with its surreal valuesrnhas completely devalued all real humanrnvalues.rnThe videospheric show appears to bernof special interest to the new politicalrnclass in post communist Eastern Europe.rnBy ignoring the tricks of video politics,rnEastern European imitation of Westernrndemocracy is often met with big laughs.rnCertainly, to regurgitate democraticrnslogans is today in great TV demand,rnbut when this regurgitation turns intornflawed mimicry, it then borders on therngrotesque. For all Eastern Europeanrnpoliticians, the CNN network functionsrnas the superego that creates their democraticrnimage but also unmasks their excommunistrnrhetoric and their inherentrncustoms of monkey business. Havingrnemerged culturally castrated and aestheticallyrnemasculated from 45 years ofrncommunist terror, the Easern Europeanrnelites are having enormous problems inrncapturing the heart and soul of thernAmerican videocracy. Small wonderrnthat their quest for the video West oftenrnresults in a death wish to be more papalrnthan the Pope, i.e., more videomorphicrnthan the new video Vatican in Washington,rnD.C. Predictably, Eastern Europeanrnmimicry of Western democracyrncan only result in a flimsy escapade intornthe dangerous world of the unknown.rnTraditionally, Eastern and CentralrnEuropean elites, unlike the French andrnAnglo-Americans, lack glamour, glitter,rnglitz, and glory: the four mandatoryrnelements of political success today. Thisrnnew political class recruits itself from thernpool of provincial “hicks” and ex-partyrnhacks with a meager sense of foreignrnvideo-political empathy. Eastern Europeanrnpoliticians have enormous difficultiesrnhiding their past communist pedigree.rnMany speak the basic, broken,rnheartbreaking English that hurts thernWestern eustachian TV tube. The onlyrnlauded figure in the West Europeanrnvideosphere is the much-admired CzechrnVaclav Havel, who embodies the perfectlyrnprojected mixture of a latter-dayrnhippie, postmodern Ghandi, and AngelrnGabriel announcing to the world thernGospel of permanent peace. As far as hisrnhapless Eastern European neighbors inrn44/CHRONICLESrnrnrn