OPINION

Clown time is over

I was watching a television debate the other day of the kind that has dominated the small screen in Greece for the past 20 years. The magnitude of the economic crisis and the problems the country is facing have made these shows simply intolerable. We used to laugh at the so-called panels of experts and argued over who was the most ridiculous, arrogant or inane of the guests. This decadence, however, has gone too far. We all know what the nothing-but-a-pretty-face guest will say, we even know who will say what when two sides are sparring. These shows rarely get to the root of the issue, while the entire concept of dialogue is undermined by guests and hosts talking over one another. All together, these talking heads create a repulsive familiarity. Somehow, however, such shows have pushed forward members of Parliament, brought some custom to third-rate lawyers, saved political careers and transformed utter oddballs into stars. The real thinkers have been pushed out of the debate arena because they simply could not survive a minute in such a setting. The few who at first put up a good fight eventually fled when they saw what it was ultimately all about. Greek private television (at least as far as the majority of channels are concerned) has contributed to a large extent to the state of the country today. In the few instances when it did focus on real issues, it did so in a manner so populist as to drown rational discourse. People today are starting to realize that it is not just our politicians who are proving incapable of dealing with a crisis of this scope. They are beginning to see that the disgrace they once used to laugh at on television is nothing more than a repetition of a trashy revue. It is becoming all the more clear that there is a class of politicians made for these TV «debates,» but what the people are looking for is a new class of politicians capable of running the country. For these politicians to emerge, however, we also need a new class of journalists, who will raise the standards of television and bring an end to the kitsch-fest of the past two decades.