Tuesday, July 12

Tina Brown, Genius

Peter J. Boyer, "Sarah Palin Plots Her Next Move". July 10

ASSUMING, that is, you imagine "genius" could describe someone who dreams up new labels for half-eaten candy bars she finds discarded on the sidewalk.

Okay, fine: some guy's got a warehouse full of buggy whips in the Model T era, and you're hired to sell them. The fact that I didn't think Newsweek was salvageable when I was a teenager is immaterial. The fact that you imagine putting Sarah Palin on the cover of something else will do it is irrelevant. Hell, maybe it's Justin Bieber. I'm 57 years old. It's not like my entire lifetime hasn't been spent wondering what th' fuck it is makes things popular: Bonanza, Herman's Hermits, Disco, the Iraq War. It's not like I don't understand that what was rightly viewed as the lowest form of schlock back when William Castle was dishing it out to drive-in moviegoers is now seen as Capitalism's great contribution to the culture. It's just that I don't understand why you'd get up every morning and do it. How much better can ya eat? My Poor Wife had on one of those morning "news" shows with some idiot blathering about longevity, and I said, "Why would these people want to live forever? They think there'll be another Dan Brown novel every two years to eternity?"

I don't care. Sell the rubes whatever you have to sell them, but is there some glory in plumbing the depths? A Nobel for discovering a new Lowest Common Denominator? Jesus Christ, this thing is 4200 words, and it's about nothing. It consists of a handful of Palin quotes (saying nothing, of course, but translated into English from Gibberish) and a few loving paragraphs about that fanboy and his movie (which, you'll be relieved to know, is probably going to make back its initial investment thanks to a distribution deal with Wal*Mart; so much, I guess, for Setting the Record Straight with those of us who have been so badly misinformed about the Half-Term Governor's many accomplishments). In fact the movie seems to've been the guiding light here. We get Sarah Palin, the crusading Governor who tackled Big Oil, and who cobbled together a legislative coalition of Mostly Democrats to do so, Sarah Palin, brave tax hiker, Sarah Palin, Maverick.

Of course the problem is--well, the real problem is that most of us have heard the woman speak, or "speak"--none of this ever explains why she can't go five minutes without saying "Lamestream Media", why she can't say anything insightful about Barack Obama, or why she sounds like a jayvee softball coach trying to inspire a group of twelve-year-olds with some half-remembered Reaganisms she learned second hand in a church league. If she used to be so thoughtful, how'd she go stale so fast? I've read three or four Palin hagiographies, for some reason, and none ever begins to try explaining why she fucking quit the governorship of Alaska. There's always some mumble-jumble about her opponents, as though most states chose their top executives by acclamation. I've yet to see anything approaching an explanation, let alone an honest one; none of her defenders will say, "Well, she saw an opportunity to cash in," even though they believe that's as American as caribou pie. It's the dog that didn't bark. As if we needed one.

Sure, sure: I think Sarah Palin is unqualified for any political job other than FOX commentator, "best-selling" author, or buffoon, and I think anyone who insists she's qualified to be President of the United States, or Governor of the Tundra, for that matter, is a liar or an idiot, and probably both. But could someone at least try? Address why so many Americans--who've seen her in action--think she's beyond laughable? Jeez Louise, you people had eight years to do this with Bush. Maybe you should have, y'know, practiced.


heydave said...

My takeaway lesson from all this is that if I see Tina Brown in my driveway one morning I have, in fact, died during the night.

heydave said...

OK, I deserve this: Gah!
Go see the link (lesson #2: going out of boats is bad!) and tell me why adult thinks he/she can manage their way thru life anymore with a James Dean style tough ass pose.

James Stripes said...

I hate to say it, but maybe lamestream is a pretty good descriptor for Newsweek.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

I'm just gonna copy my comment at TIME.

marksmall2001 said...

Okay, we are about the same age. I will address the four examples you give when you ask what makes things popular. "Bonanza"? I was about six years old when it first aired and thought cowboy shows were cool. I abandoned it for "The Virginian"; better acting & deeper plots. Herman's Hermits? "Mrs. Brown You've Got a Lovely Daughter" and "I'm Henry the Eighth." Upbeat, quirky melodies, otherwise they were Beatles knock-offs. I was about ten years old. Disco? I was in college. I never understood it, or leisure suits, either. The Iraq War was live on TV in real-time. I watched it in a bar, saw all the other people gawking and heard them saying how cool it was. I knew enough not to point out a lot of people were dying, as we watched, for corporate oil and profits for other corporations in the business of war. What makes tings popular? I guess I didn't answer that. It all goes back to Mencken: Nobody ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the American public. And I need to add, the slogan of one of those the eras: disco sucks.

prairie curmudgeon said...

Look at this as a sign of impending doom. In the lead up to 9/11 Bush was doing fund raisers, ignoring all the red flashing lights and Americans were captured by the Gary Condit saga. There is a lot of big money tied up in keeping Americans focused on the small stuff vs. giving them reads on the big picture stuff. Crazy sells.