Talk Fueling Populism or Subtle Political Education?

Eichwald, MdB Photo (detail): Eichwald, MdB © ZDF

Fri, 02/15/2019

University of Washington

Department of Germanics
Denny Hall, Raum 359
WA 98195 Seattle

Discussion of German Political TV Satires with DAAD Visiting Assistant Professor Niko Switek

There is a noticeable boom of TV shows focusing on the political sphere (e.g. House of Cards, Borgen) and some of these shows take the form of satires (e.g. Veep, In the Thick of It). Some of the stories, tropes and metaphors employed in satire, supposed to make you laugh about politicians, connect rather well to elements of a populist rhetoric:  It’s us against the political elite, which only follows its own ambitions and interest. Does making fun of our elected representatives fuel populist anger against a ruling class, provoking cynicism and apathy? Or is it just the other way around, that interest in shows about politics speaks for a willingness to deal with societal issues and their handling in government and parliament? The talk probes these questions for the case of Germany, looking at the TV shows Eichwald, MdB and Ellerbeck – both produced recently by the public-service television broadcaster ZDF.
Niko Switek is DAAD Visiting Assistant Professor for German Studies at the Henry M. Jackson School for International Studies and the Department of Political Science at the University of Washington. His research interests focus on political parties and party systems as well as on coalition politics.

The talk is co-presented with the Department of Germanics and followed by a reception.