Small-screen tales of the pathetic and absurd

Politics has returned to our lives, but filtered through the medium of the small screen. Confrontations, excommunications, verbal solecisms, the pathetic and the absurd unfold on the small screen and fuel our daily conversations, influencing the decided and undecided alike. Since viewers have probably missed some episodes from the pre-election serial these days, here is a selection of the most extreme election TV phenomena. – The Greek version of the slogan of the Cuban revolution, «Socialismo o muerte» has got to be «Socialism or out.» There are two roads through the woods for Stefanos Manos and Andreas Andrianopoulos, according to Yiannis Kapsis (NET, February 12): «The new PASOK members will either ‘socialistize’ (sic) or withdraw. PASOK will not change.» – The pre-election standoff has given rise to new words and phrases, e.g. first-heard-of, decohere, decoherence (the fate in store for PASOK, according to some television commentators, due to its expansion on both sides), derby and transfers. Life, however, shows that «socialistization» can coexist with «desocialistization.» – The Communist Party of the Soviet Union was the example picked by New Democracy deputy Vyron Polydoras (Star, February 10) to explain the unanimous and enthusiastic reception of successive PASOK leaders by its members. «From Stalin to Khruschev, from Khruschev to Brezhnev, from Brezhnev to Andropov, from Andropov to Chernenko and from Chernenko to Gorbachev, until the party collapsed. That’s the historical analogy.» It seems to be a rather unfortunate one: PASOK can well hope to stay in power for around 60 more years! The blind acceptance of leaders with a different orientation might be a recipe for long life for a ruling party. – Marx, too, finally made it to the screen! In its left-hand screen box, Star channel placed Karl Marx (his photograph, that is), in an attempt to interpret the «double-sided enlargement» of PASOK. The title at the bottom of the screen read: «Even Marx was astonished!» – According to a number of TV analysts, the song «Gucci forema» (The Gucci Dress) by Georgios Mazonakis marks the new dividing lines in Greek society. No longer do we have Socialists and Conservatives, but Northerners and Southerners, Gucci or Zara. According to comic Giorgos Mitsicostas (on Alter channel), working girls on the left of the political spectrum shop at «Marks, Engels and Spencer.» – A Panhellenic Socialist New Democracy party is the personal vision – or rather the personal joke – of news reader Nikos Hadzinikolaou. Since he has confirmed that the points of convergence between the two parties have multiplied, he suggested their merger (Alpha, January 22 and February 10). – «The Cyprus issue is at a crux. If Costas Karamanlis is elected prime minister, he will have to deal with it. Do you trust him?» This question was addressed to ex-deputy and ex-Prime Minister Constantinos Mitsotakis, who was interviewed by Akis Pavlopoulos, on Alter’s main news program (February 7). ND’s honorary chairman’s jaw dropped. «But what kind of question is that?» And the presenter came at once to the conclusion: «So the answer is yes.» – «Makis, we have them surrounded!» Thus did a member of a PASOK prefectural committee describe to Makis Kouris the order of the party’s list of candidates (Alpha, February 11). At the head and tail of the list are party cadres Anna Diamantopoulou and Costas Laliotis, with collaborators or new party entrants sandwiched in the middle. – «I’d rather be a flowerpot on the Themos Anastasiadis program than enter New Democracy,» said far-rightist Giorgos Karadzaferis on «Antignomies» (Alpha, March 12), who, some weeks before, had been invited onto the talk show «Ten with Vana» (Extra channel). However, though talk show hostess Vana Barba was quite sufficient for the LAOS party chairman, Nikos Hadzinikolaou required a large number of reinforcements (in the shape of Anna Panayiotarea, Themos Anastasiadis, Giorgos Kyrtsos and Andreas Roumeliotis). – Political terms are unable to interpret the new age. Political science has flung its hands up in despair and handed over the baton to parapsychology, astrology and alchemy. A politician desiring to do well must have a positive aura and positive energy. «There is a lot of positive energy in PASOK,» said actress Angela Gerekou (Alter, January 23). And in the new musical reality show, «Super Idol» (Mega, February 8), we learned that the «ultimate idol» must have a good voice, be «cool and easy,» while there also should be the «X factor,» that is «that very special chemistry which is created between an artist and his audience.» – PASOK party chairman George Papandreou is doing well when it comes to chemistry, as long as he doesn’t open his mouth. For example, at his party’s congress, he said that PASOK is becoming «a habitat, an ecology where ideas inoculate each other.» After «I got psychology» (the unforgettable line by a famous popular singer), the time has come for «I got ecology» (or «On my way, I fell into a habitat and was delayed»). Referring to the recent enlargement, he spoke of a «society of knowledge which will be present and competitive,» without clarifying whether these two qualities – presence and competitiveness – refer to knowledge or the society. – Apart from psychology, we are also suffering from semiotics, since the channels interpret virtually everything in terms of what they symbolize. Thus when a political leader drives his car himself, then he «exudes semiotics.» The phrase «Let’s look at the thing semiotically» is often bandied about. In this new age, men and parties must learn to solve their differences semiotically. – The little girl who adorned PASOK pre-election posters in 1985 has grown up and appeared on «Tete-a-Tete» (Alter, February 9). No, she had not received a proposal to stand as a PASOK candidate. Suppose, she was asked, she received a proposal from New Democracy? «Why not? The dividing lines do not apply to the young» was the answer. This is reminiscent of the poet Cavafy’s young man of Antioch (in «They should have provided»): «First I shall apply to Zabinas / And if that dolt does not appreciate me / I will go to his opponent, to Grypos. And if that idiot does not engage me, I will go directly to Hyrcanos.» (Alexander II Zabinas of the Seleucid dynasty, the heir to the Syrian throne, was murdered by Antiochus VIII Grypos, while Hyrcanos I was the king and high priest of the Jewish kingdom who took advantage of the turmoil in Syria.) This differs little from musical reality shows: Ousted from «Fame Story» on Antenna or «Eurostar» on NET, people try their luck on Mega’s «Super Idol.» – Alpha closed its news program with the lovely Elena Kountoura, a former model and now editor of a women’s magazine, and an ND candidate. To the question why she had entered the political arena, the answer was, «Because I want to serve.» «In what areas do you want to serve?» «Wherever needed, wherever I’m asked.» As Cafavy’s young man (same poem) said: «I have some idea of military affairs / And I am au fait in administration as well… Therefore I believe that I am quite fully / qualified to serve this country.»