The real message of the sexual harassment and other recent scandals is that the old Sixties slogan of “power to the people” has come to pass. Individual people, in their capacities as football fans, TV watchers, moviegoers, voters, fans of theater or ballet, or even stock owners have weighed in and brought about the downfall of the rich and powerful. Bill O’Reilly, Charlie Rose, Matt Lauer, Al Franken, Kevin Spacey, Roger Ailes, Harvey Weinstein, and the great and the near great have fallen. The winner? The individual couch potato that participates in their stardom only by watching or buying tickets. The audiences of America have risen in revolt against their providers of entertainment, sport, news, gossip, analysis, financial information, and music, and demanded that they be held accountable for their off-screen, off-stage activities.
Through pressure on advertisers, stock prices, poll ratings and Neilson viewership numbers, they have brought their opinions to bear, overriding the grip and power of those who run or own TV stations, movie production studios, football and baseball teams, political parties, or big corporations. The high and mighty fall at the feet of the average viewer or customer.
The battle is not over societal standards or even right and wrong. Organizations like Fox News, the two political parties, the U.S., Congress, the TV networks, and the like are not moved by moral persuasion. They are compelled to do the right thing only when poll numbers, or advertiser contacts compel it. And it is through this kind of feedback that the people are speaking.
Like a storm or fire raging out of control, fed by gusts of public opinion, these newly empowered fans and audience members are sweeping all before them, bringing down corruption without waiting for official censure or verdict.
It is the triumph of the power of the people!
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