Desensitization is to make a person less likely to feel shock or distress at scenes of cruelty, violence, or suffering by overexposure to such images. I believe that it is practiced a lot in pop culture. Pop culture tends to desensitize many social topics, specifically topics in which politicians discuss or go through in their personal lives.
Pop culture desensitizes the public with TV shows like The West Wing and Scandal. Both shows have episodes in which there are scenarios that politicians come across. For example, in Scandal the president of the United States (President Fitzgerald Grant played by actor Tony Goldwyn) has an affair with the main character (Olivia Pope). Grant is very in love with Pope and doesn’t love his wife. However, his wife knows about the affair and threatens to go public if Grant doesn’t have another child with her. As a result, a scandal like that might result in Grant not being reelected for a second term as president. This is something that has happened in the United States, if you can recall the affair Bill Clinton had with Monica Lewinsky. Clinton denied the allegations of having the affair until evidence of the affair became public. Clinton made a public apology for the affair. In reflection the affair humanized his image to the public (that everyone makes mistakes) but that is a whole other topic.
How does the show desensitizes the audience? Well, the audience may interpret this type of scenario in many different ways and wouldn’t form much of a reaction to it when it’s actually presented in the ‘real world.’ For example, if another president was to have an affair some people might think that ‘this is normal for a president to do’ or ‘it’s okay because he’s in love with his mistress.’
Furthermore, the show Scandal presents many other scenarios in which politicians face in the ‘real world.’ For example, an assassination attempt on the president, rigging voting machines to win an election, and even the president dealing with hostages being held prisoners by terrorists. The audience can be desensitized through the episode of the assassination attempt on the president. As a result, the audience could interpret it as a normal occurrence for every president and the public shouldn’t be alarmed because in the end the ‘bad guy’ will be caught.
Moreover, The West Wing deals with issues in which have been presented in the United States current presidency. For example, in one episode of the show one of the characters (Josh Lyman played by actor Bradley Whitford) makes the error of making an on-air insult of a political opponent and faces the possibility of losing his job. In 2009, President Barack Obama was having a conversation with a reporter before an interview, Obama didn’t know that he was being recorded at the time he made a comment on the Taylor Swift and Kanye West scandal. He said Kanye West is a jackass for what he did. The footage of Obama saying this made its way to the Internet and he soon after had to make a public apology for his comment.
How does this show desensitizes the audience? Well, the audience would be less likely to be shocked when a politician says something controversial. People who watch the show could interpret any future scenario like this as something politicians commonly do. Also, it could make the audience not take what any politician would say very seriously.
In conclusion, both shows, Scandal and The West Wing, are shows that can desensitize it’s audience through a variety of situations presented in the episodes of each show. Scandal can desensitize its audience through its take on a politician’s personal life. The West Wing can desensitize its audience through its take on what a politician says in public.