It's Show Time!: Media, Politics, and Popular Culture

It's Show Time!: Media, Politics, and Popular Culture

It's Show Time!: Media, Politics, and Popular Culture

It's Show Time!: Media, Politics, and Popular Culture

Excerpt

"We shocked the world."

So stated former pro wrestler, action film movie actor, and AM radio talk show host Jesse Ventura on November 3, 1998 as the election results revealed that he had been elected governor of Minnesota.

The example of celebrity-turned-politician Jesse Ventura is but one clear indication of how the media, politics, and popular culture are becoming increasingly intertwined in our lives. Here, an individual named James Janos rose to fame as a popular, cult-like, outlandish personality in the televised world of wrestling with the assumed persona Jesse Ventura. From there, he appeared in several films popular with teenagers and college students and then he moved on to be a controversial host of several AM radio talk shows in Minnesota. As host, he was known for his brash, hard talking, "take no prisoners" views that often criticized the political establishment. Jesse carried that persona over into his surprise run for governor, using it as a way to distinguish himself from the political establishment and demonstrate that he would be a different kind of governor if elected.

And elected he was. Using his media image in televised debates and even in commercials that featured "Jesse Ventura action figures," Jesse Ventura did shock the world and since his election he has become an international celebrity, merging his role as governor with that of professional wrestler into a unique figure in American politics. Since taking office, Ventura continued to capitalize on his fame, selling his action figures and other merchandise bearing his name and returning to the wrestling ring to referee a World Wrestling Federation "Summer Slam" event. The media pop culture icon's personality and his role as governor have become indistinguishable.

But in reality, Jesse Ventura is a product of the media and popular culture. He is a politician born and nurtured on television and in the media, and his success as a candidate, his name recognition, his performance as . . .

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