Recreational Politics


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Parks and Recreation is a “mockumentary”-style NBC television show that pokes fun of a small-town bureaucracy in suburban Indiana. While I don’t watch this show regularly, I have seen a few episodes that have driven home the message that mid-level bureaucratic politics is kind of a—no pun indented—joke.

Leslie Knope, played by Amy Poehler, is a woman that is in charge of the Parks Department in Pawnee, Indiana.  Each season she gets deep into some sort of problem (albeit, minor) and deals with the “politics” of city planning. She goes through every sort of emotion in order to get her way. Through following Leslie’s story, we also get to see how some of the other individuals working at her office also lie and play games in order to get their way.

The show’s uses a lot of humor in its portrayal of small-town politics. However, a larger message about possibly the US government as a whole is there. Our leaders in the community and on a federal level are often more consumed about personal gains and reputation than doing things for the betterment of society. It could be that more frequent viewers of Parks and Recreation disagree, but each episode I have watched leaves me feeling a little bit uncomfortable about my own local bureaucracy.

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2 responses to “Recreational Politics

  1. I have never watched Parks and Recreation, but I have been inclined to do so (just don’t have the time). Anyway, when you said that community and federal officials are “more consumed about personal gain and reputation than doing things for the betterment of society”, I immediately thought that they are like CEOs and the communities are the businesses. I thought of Pfeffer’s reading and also become very uncomfortable. Thanks for the post!

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