As one of the central institutions in contemporary society, television’s powers are many. Certainly, each of my previous chapters has focused on various powers of television entertainment: it can act as an expressive art, and hence a means to tell stories, communicate ideas to others, and amuse millions. It can allow its viewers to relax, engage in imaginative play or speculation, and create spaces for reflection. It is also powerful because it has moved beyond television, “overflowing” and expanding into popular culture as a whole, into everyday conversations and decisions, into community and individual identity building projects, and into multiple other media and technologies, from the Internet to cell phones. It is powerful because its programs either pretend to represent reality, because they are interpreted as such, or simply because they are feared to be interpreted as such. Hence it is also powerful because it not only shows us a world around us, but creates many of the parameters for our subsequent interactions with that world. Of course, television entertainment is not alone in holding such powers, but it is a rare entity for holding such powers to such a degree. It is possible, even unfortunately common, to overstate television entertainment’s powers in any given situation, but it is difficult
to overstate its potential powers. Moreover, as the previous chapters have shown, television does not just hold power – it can also give, network, arrange, defuse, refuse, or channel other powers within society, and thus it is both a medium of entertainment and a medium with which others can seek, maintain, deny, or exert control. Ultimately, the instances of television entertainment’s involvement with powerplays are too numerous to list, but this chapter will chart several prominent ways in which television entertainment channels power, on both personal and global levels.The chapter asks us to consider who has power over television entertainment, what nature that power takes, and how it is or is not used, while also asking how television has been used in battles for power between citizens, media corporations, governments, advertisers, consumers, artists, regulators, and cultural elites.