I‘m going to stay apolitical here, which is tough. In the midst of the 2013 Government Shutdown, you’d have to be a doorknob to remain apolitical.
But we’re looking at stories here, storytelling and the art of foreshadowing, convincing, of setting moods and moving hearts. And it’s happening faster-than-light these days.
We’ve all heard the story – A group of minty one veterans came in on an Honor Flight to visit a memorial, only to find it closed from the shutdown. They crash the gate, and now there are cameras aplenty and politicos circling like vultures. This is spin-time, a chance to take a moment and try to make it into a game-changer.
The amazing thing is how quickly it moved and how mailable it was. Both sides are using it to mean something. And what really happened, who pushed down the gate, all that was lost in the ballad-churning aftermath. Both sides point to it as backing their claims of reasonable effort against an unmovable foe.
It all makes traditional writers and storytellers look like a cottage industry. If you are a writer, you might well have thought about your latest story today. How can I make a character seem guilty? How can I make the hero caring yet independent? How can I make the heroine sexy yet innocent? You go through your day, looking for the phrase or even the word that will archive this.
But you can believe that in many, many rooms around the country (not smoke-filled, not anymore), teams of spin-doctors are finding phrases, words, photos, slogans, images, icons, and buzzwords that will shift a mailable electorate to their “version” of truth. To them, there is no reality, just a set of working facts to arrange. Like true writers, they are setting a mood for the events, planting a narrative in hearts and minds. And what really happened to those veterans is lost behind the storytelling. This is why, when you go into bars, break rooms and Facebook, you will see people arguing without a shared facts. The sides are so far apart, they can’t even agree to what reality is anymore.
But obviously, you know what really happened, both at that memorial and in the halls of government.
See how it works?