Drama has been with us in the West, from Ancient Greece to Church dramas in the Middle Ages. It has found a variety of stages, in and out of upper class homes, road side presentations, high school auditoriums, and beautiful theaters.
In the early twentieth century it began to find a home on film. That changed its influence. What used to be, even for the wealthy, an occasional special event has become five and six hours a day in front of an ever enlarging screen.
The news "of the world" which, when this country began its history, used to take weeks to travel from print to readership, appears in scripted presentations all day long. Like pre-teen children holding hands, the TV news and the latest favorite TV dramatic series skip in front of our eyes singing songs that are both new and familiar. Of the news, Thoreau said the events are the same each day, all that is different are the names of the kings and countries and the guy mugged on the street.
I take that as confirmation that telling the news requires a story line just like biography or fiction. And in a collection over time it requires themes and becomes history. Nothing new or startling in that. But there is a difference now in our internal processing of the news.
Our ability to deny threatening information is strengthening. Given the daily exercise of merging our visual and emotional experiences, we watch the dramatic news and the new dramas with the same level of detached involvement. The process is automatic.
In certain situations, the difference between poison and medicine is dosage. My next blog will address that perspective.