The US presidential election is a product manufactured for the big stage of TV: here, orchestrated reality TV shows are sold as political debates, and ‘stars’ like Donald Trump conquer the stage by establishing ‘perceived facts’ and telling blatant lies. Political opinion is served as easily digestible nibbles that circulate across the digital channels of social media. Twitter, Facebook and Co. have long become main actors driving the presidential campaign.
The Show Must Go On by Marc Lee captures the circulation flow and momentum of the social media-fueled campaign, exaggerating it to the point where it tips into a theatre of the absurd. The online work filters the most recent Twitter, Instagram and Youtube messages that mention terms like “Clinton”, “Trump” or “US Election”, weaving them into a wild TV show. A new version of Lee’s TV-Bot (2004), The Show Must Go On was specially created for the US elections. The original version was designed as an Internet news service that grabbed its content from more traditional TV and radio channels. Its sole principle was that of novelty. Additionally, what counts today is the ‘Likes’ and ‘Retweets’ that migrate across the screen as stars (Clinton) and hearts (Trump), fighting for the presidency. Whatever the ending of the show, it will be historical – and it will be just the beginning.