Friday, December 18, 2009

Vulgar Display of Pouter

For Peggy Noonan, this little jeremiad almost qualifies as a head-fake or a rope-a-dope. After some mild pseudo-populist clucking about how the economy's travails have deflated 'murkin's natural optimism and begun turning them against Obama (for, you know, essentially continuing Bush's economic and financial policies without missing a beat), she abruptly scoops up a couple armloads of hay from the barn floor and valiantly attempts to construct a nice strawman.

But something tells me this isn't all about money. It's possible, and I can't help but think likely, that the poll is also about other things, and maybe even primarily about other things.

Forget the hip waders, bring a hazmat suit. It's gonna get thick. So thick that Nooners has even given her hunch a name, the "Adam Lambert Problem", which is apparently like the Alan Parsons Project, but more flamboyant and destructive to Our Culture, which is what?

Seriously, if any of these harrumphing "culture" bozos can pin down exactly what that is, in the monolithic sense they imply, and without lamenting the demise of I Love Lucy, I've yet to see it. Indeed, Nooners never quite gets around to identifying any cultural benchmarks of which she approves. She just knows that people in flyover country are easily startled, yet apparently not quite enough to just change the fucking channel.

It goes on like this, and of course Nooners, per usual, misses the damned point.

America is not prudish or closed-minded, it is exhausted. It cannot be exaggerated, how much Americans feel besieged by the culture of their own country, and to what lengths they have to go to protect their children from it.

Uh-huh. All these things we are protecting our children from that pollute the airwaves, the sexual references, the language, the obnoxious behavior, the ill-treatment of others. Raise your hands out there if you learned about all those things at school, rather than teevee.

The core problem with culture vultures is that their social concerns are somewhat at odds with their economic sensibilities. Is America more coarse and vulgar than fifty years ago? Of course. Could being marketed to relentlessly, endlessly, everywhere we go and everything we see, constantly being pushed to spend money we don't have on shit we don't need, encouraged to borrow at usury rates for impulse purchases, self-actualizing through fuckyoumobiles and electronic gadgets, commodifying all and filtering through only the prism of desire and pure id, could any of that have to do with that coarseness and vulgarity? How about being rendered powerless and cynical by ever-growing economic disparity, a culture that unironically insists that greed is good, maybe that plays a part in this?

I mean, all those things require a concerted effort to turn sentient beings into dullards, and thence easy marks for whatever bridge is sold to them by telemarketers, self-help hustlers, SUV manufacturers and such like. It makes sense that their entertainment and activity choices would reflect that; you can't actively encourage masses of people to be spoon-fed morons and then expect them to seek quality in their choices for visual and auditory stimulation.

There's actually a few points in Nooners' essay with which reasonable people can agree, but it's particularly offensive that she chooses to prioritize it above ordinary citizens' genuine concerns about their economic viability. You want vulgar and coarse, how about banksters turning the finance system into street-corner numbers racket, then expecting the peons to pay for it and insisting on fat bonuses for their trouble.

I suppose there might actually be a few addled 'tards out there who really are more het up about Adam Lambert than they are about getting their jobs shipped overseas, or their house foreclosed on, or being a medical problem from utter destitution. But as always, those folks get precisely what they deserve.

I don't like Adam Lambert either. That's why I don't watch brain-and-soul-sucking crap like American Idol or The American Music Awards, whatever the fuck that is. It really is a free country, Peggy, and as such, people are free to turn the goddamned teevee off and, hell, read a book or take a walk or play a board game with their family, instead of this constant "the food is terrible and the portions are too small" whinging, especially in contrast with the truly vulgar bastards that have wrecked this country's economy, its optimism, and very likely its future.


The Vile Scribbler said...

The core problem with culture vultures is that their social concerns are somewhat at odds with their economic sensibilities.

Well, I'd say that's the division in the right wing, period. The social conservatives want to live in a Norman Rockwell painting, static and unchanging. The big-money wing worships laissez-faire economics, though, one of the most chaotic, destructive forces we've invented yet. You can't have those kinds of mythical, traditonal small-town values when people are having to uproot every few years to chase after work.

Tyrone Slothrop said...

For some reason, your post brought to mind an observation made by Henry "Sexus" Miller in The Air-Conditioned Nightmare:

"Nowhere have I encountered such a dull, monotonous fabric of life as here in America. What have we to offer the world beside the superabundant loot which we recklessly plunder from the earth under the maniacal delusion that this is a sane activity? The land of opportunity has become the land of senseless sweat and struggle."

The offerings apparently have continued, this time edifying the world in the limitless ways that unbridled and unregulated financial speculation can temporarily provide the illusion of a healthy, thriving economy. Then, when the wheels have inevitably come off and - yet again - the nation teeters over the abyss, we can hang the anger and disillusionment upon nonentities such as Adam Lambert.

Well done, Peggers.


Joe Blow said...

gahhh! eff'n A.

"Could being marketed to relentlessly, endlessly, everywhere we go and everything we see, constantly being pushed to spend money we don't have on shit we don't need"

I live in NYC and everywhere you turn the visual space has been rented out to commercial interests. except by the river. on the streets you have private and public space with huge billboards and slathered with poster ads. some, like for GTA, are actually a combination of lurid sex and concealed violence. (underwear ads, also)

on Canal street near my apt, there is this billboard that I make sure I don't look at. Its by the tunnel and it actually FLASHES bright lights into the eyes of the drivers waiting to get in. must be some type of flash/cut advertising.. I don't know.. I don't look at it...(I'm like walking by with a hand by the side of my face - haha)

so anyway. yeah. take a drive in the country and there are lighted billboards for all sorts of crap all over the roads.

I spend plenty of money, but I try not to buy any crap they are spewing.. (guess I gotta see avatar thou.)

so when I moved I dropped my cable TV. They have a big screen downstairs for the football game or whatever.

all the best and Have a Super Solstice!!