The latest issue of M/C is out now, an online journal of media and culture. It looks at voting and citizenship, and has an article by yours truly called ‘Voting for Pleasure, Or, The View From a Victorian Theatre Gallery’.
I wrote the article in response to claims that various forms of voting-for-entertainment represent a coming epoch of direct democracy in Western culture… that old everything-is-democratic-is-good chestnut that still seems to count for so much in media and cultural studies. Actually, voting-for-entertainment isn’t all that new. As I show in the article, popular theatrical audiences regularly experienced the thrill of evicting performers or cheering for the ones they liked in rowdy Victorian theatres. Those forms of de facto voting hardly won them political gains or other freedoms outside theatre galleries. So what makes new media commentators like John Hartley so convinced that current forms of voting-for-fun (like Idol, or online polls) are so emancipatory now?