CNN rocks the vote — or not

CNN rocks the vote — or not
Tuesday night’s CNN presentation of the latest America Rocks The Vote project is an attempt by the network to reach out to younger viewers. That would be because the median age of a CNN viewer is 61, and they don’t buy a lot of Pepsi and video games. Rocks, live from Boston’s Faneuil Hall, will feature 18-to-30-year-olds questioning the Democratic presidential candidates. Rock The Vote is a non-profit organization whose mission is to involve 18–24 year olds in the political process. Their previous events have all been on MTV. (Remember when Bill Clinton was asked whether he wore boxers or briefs?) CNN has tapped their “hip” anchor, Anderson Cooper, to host the event. At 36, he’s the youngest CNN anchor.

The end result will be happy candidates and a network beaming with self-congratulatory smiles, but it won’t do a thing to bring young viewers to CNN. This whole thing is an exercise in Modernist thinking trying to reach an essentially Postmodern audience. And why shouldn’t it be? It’s all the folks at CNN (and most other big TV entities) know. Modernists are logical and live in the box of what has already been proven. Modernist thinking kills everything creative, because it doesn’t like risks. CNN is logically reasoning that:
  • Young people have watched these in the past, and will watch this one.
  • The organization is connected with young people and therefore will help promote CNN to its constituents
  • This is a great way to position the network’s alleged “hip” anchor.
  • By airing the special, CNN proves that they care about young people.
  • This is a perfect way for CNN to enter the world of young adults.

All of this makes terrific “sense” — doesn’t it? It certainly does, but that’s the problem. Postmodernism doesn’t make sense. Its roots are buried in chaos and chance. Taking a page from MTV’s playbook and inserting it into CNN’s is like trying to mate a lion with a sheep in order to produce a more gentle lion. Excitement and anticipation? Oh sure, but ultimately the lion just ends up with a tasty meal.

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