Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Final Project Abstract: Really, Who is Patriotic?

I plan to look at how patriotism has evolved in the past decade through television. I want to study how television reflects the existence and perceptions of patriotism. I’ll look specifically at the late 90’s political epic The West Wing and the newly-released Netflix remake of BBC’s House of Cards, which follows a ruthless congressman connivingly struggling for power. Both shows, released a little over a decade apart, give an inside-look at the White House and the politics surrounding the White House. In one, the president is the moral leader to look to for advice. In the other, the president is the man to slyly screw over for betraying our complicated protagonist. Each show has a different style and tone and its individual perception on what it means to be patriotic.

As someone who generally isn’t very patriotic and who doesn’t tend to have faith in the power and justice of our country, it is odd to watch a show so focused on making great America greater. I must admit, however, there are beautiful moments where even I allow myself to buy into the hopeful image of the United States and American Dream The West Wing fights for. It can be inspirational. At the same time, however, it is refreshing to see the honesty of the cruel, power-hungry, ambitious, intelligent characters in House of Cards.

I’ll also look online—blogs, articles, comments—to find information about how people feel about patriotism, about the White House, about the US as a superpower. I want to look at what people think of the American Dream today. Does it still exist as the core hope or dream for future America? The terrorist attack on 9/11 occurred roughly in the middle of this time-frame, and I’m interested in what role it played in television. I will use television to study how—and perhaps why—patriotism has changed and the evolving perception of America’s future.


  1. Being a decently well-versed West Wing fan and a (hopeful) future watcher of House of Cards, I dig the premise of television's portrayal of patriotism on Capitol Hill.

    It does seem like your focus seems to stray away from patriotism and simply how politics are portrayed in these shows--either soberly or ideally--rather than what the American Dream is or what its significance is today.

    Either way, fun idea.

  2. I love the idea of comparing and contrasting these two shows, though i think "patriotism" may be too broad for a focus. What is each of them saying about our political process--how it works and who it's for? That may help you narrow your argument. Great idea!