Bayam.2007.MTVs Coverage of the 2004 Presidential Election

As such her viewers are asked to place themselves in

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Unformatted text preview: m she appears in a harshly lit and slightly out-of-focus scene shot with a home-video camera * that a formal distinction from Hollywood film and most television news. With her hair slightly amess, wearing little makeup and no jewelry, she steps into the frame, awkwardly adjusts the camera, and introduces herself: ‘‘Hi, um, my name is Drew. And, I am a repressed voter. I want to learn about the voting system, I want to be a voter.’’ This is neither the Hollywood star nor the broadcast journalist reading scripted lines, but rather a supposedly raw look at the authentic ‘‘Drew.’’ In turn, the film repeatedly takes the viewer ‘‘backstage,’ showing her riding in the car, sleeping on the train, studying politics in the library. There she confesses, ‘‘I never got my diploma, that’s another thing I’d like to 391 Downloaded By: [Ohio State University Libraries] At: 01:44 26 September 2007 392 GEOFFREY BAYM do.’’ The film here constructs a mediated image of Barrymore’s private self, a technique Corner (2003) argues has become central to the manufacture of political identity. For Barrymore, the private persona is used to construct a sympathetic identity; she is presented as vulnerable, subject to the same weaknesses her audience suffers. As such, her viewers are asked to place themselves in her position, to see her as enacting the daily struggles they routinely face (see Marshall, 1997). Indeed, Barrymore’s struggle to overcome her ignorance about the political system provides the crux of the film. Again shot with a home-video camera, the pivotal scene shows Drew at home, calling her producer to discuss her lack of progress. She breaks into tears, and sobs ‘‘I don’t know what I’m doing.’’ The scene’s authenticity is further established as she loudly blows her nose * the kind of private behavior rarely shown on camera. The producer encourages her: ‘‘The good news,’’ she says, ‘‘is you don’t have to pretend you know what you’re doing.’’ Barrymore’s authority is grounded in her lack of expertise,...
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