I thought that Dawson’s emphasis on the advent of radio being pivotal in Peronism to be on point. Without being able to broadcast her voice, Evita Peron would not have achieved the level of support she enjoyed. Interesting that she was so aware of this, and so comfortable with the new media, that she perfected a melodramatic tone to suit the form. This approach may have been over-the-top if broadcast today in HD, but in the early years of radio, this type of performance-style discourse was extremely well received. The qualities of a successful politician were forever changed. From radio to Twitter, a charismatic personality will always overshadow the quieter brand of political speaker.
Not only was Peron well suited for radio, but now her message, which was directed to the non-elite population, could reach its target audience without interference. Anyone could hear her speak, even from a great distance. Large crowds could gather and listen, together building a sense of community. No longer was political discussion reserved for the literate upper classes, everyone could participate. Those in charge could do nothing to contain this new power, and the face of politics was forever changed.
Another aspect of this week’s readings that I found fascinating is the emergence of different music styles as political rally flags. The popularity of Samba, and the fact that anyone could listen no matter where they found themselves on the economic totem pole, made Samba an effective tool for unifying the people. Dawson points out that it was the poor who shaped the sound of Samba, and it eventually became the defining sound of Brazil. Those in power made attempts to control it, but the people wouldn’t have it. The same happened with Tango in Argentina. Tango had its own language, often vulgar, and decidedly anti-state. The popularity of the music was a political act, the people versus the state. The community building power of radio is apparent in the popularity of Samba and Tango, just as in Peronism.
Maybe students of politics should have drama and music classes as part of their required credits.