Bread and circuses
Bread and circuses (from the Latin panem et circenses) is when an authoritarian politician stays in power by distracting the sheeple with trivialities so that they do not realize that the government is screwing them over. Often, this tactic works. The phrase was coined by the Roman satirist, Juvenal.
Examples include the use of gladiatorial games in Ancient Rome, dictatorial elections (where there is only one person on the ballot, and it's the incumbent), and appeals against the so-called "war on religion" during times of economic distress. Many conspiracy theorists, such as Alex Jones and Mark Dice, often argue that the Illuminati/global elite is responsible for using sports, music, films and other forms of entertainment as modern day bread and circuses. This is being done to distract the sheeple from their deviant plans to form a one world government and to then kill 80%, or 90% (depending on which moron you're listening to) of the world's population. In 2010 and 2012, Dice boycotted the Super Bowl for this very reason, and cited the fact that the founder of the NFL, Walter Camp, was a Skull And Bones member, and used this as "evidence" that it is an "Illuminati created distraction"!
A fictional example is the titular competition in the recent novel series The Hunger Games; the books go so far as to name their fictitious regime "Panem", straight out of the original Latin.
 See also