Back in the day, my mother dated this one guy. He was flawed, sure–we all are–but we connected on a few things. We were both musicians, & I was beginning to love film, a place he was already at.
We disagreed about sports, although ‘disagree’ mightn’t be the right word. He didn’t understand why I could dig the drama of fiction, but wasn’t engaged by sports. He couldn’t miss a televised basketball game or any Olympic event. (I could credit his influence on my affinity for curling, but I digress.)
His position was that, in sports, coaches set up players & strategies, & all have their skills & stats, but the outcome is an unknown, a mystery. Underdogs can kick–have kicked–the buttocks of superior teams, & mediocre players pull off uncharacteristically amazing plays.
In other words, to him, sports is where the real drama is, not in prefabricated scripting & pretentious symbolism (to put it a certain way). And I actually admired the point. But the narrative–deek left & put a ball in a basket–was a storyline that never resonated with me.
After all these years, I think our greater cultural sense is that real drama is in the unscripted. The rise of both the documentary as a respected storytelling genre, & reality shows as populist distractionism, reinforces his philosophy.
That brings me to politics: the political ‘arena,’ the ‘theatre’ of war, the truthiness of capitalist journalism, & the outright thought-modifying propaganda of political ads, stump speeches, & ideological op-eders & pundits.
Sports might be dramatic in terms of externalized, adrenaline-pumping, ‘doesn’t touch me’ entertainment; politics is drama in the most real sense of the word, that it has direct impact on our lives. From our freedom of movement, to freedom of speech, to the social safety net, to the regulations on things like clean water & building codes, to missiles murderously rocketing across borders, politics has immense influence on our everyday lives.
For its importance, I daresay politics might be second only to the seemingly life-&-death affairs of the heart, romantic & otherwise, in terms of the personal immediacy of love, jealousy, betrayal & heartbreak.