Sunday, August 28, 2005

Supply and Demand

When I started contributing to this blog, I never thought it would be to excoriate Jon Stewart. I definitely didn't think it would be to throw rose petals at the senior editor of the National Review.

But after reading Richard Brookhiser's review of Bernard Goldberg's
100 People Who Get More Attention Paid to Them Than I Do, I bolted to the rose garden with a wheelbarrow.

Brookhiser makes the point that I have been harping on since Jon Stewart lit into Carlson and Begala on Crossfire. The sorry state we find America in today cannot be blamed entirely on the media and the government. Our media and government are as pathetic as they are because so many Americans don't give a crap about anything. When served base popular culture, vapid infotainment, corporate corruption, cowardly journalism, and a cynical and mendacious
casus belli, they lick their plates and ask for more. It's simple supply and demand. Demand nothing, and you'll get whatever they want to give you.

Brookhiser makes the point that all of Goldberg's targets--some of whom are big, fat fish in a barrel that a toddler's marksmanship couldn't miss--were elected, whether democratically or through the market:

The politicians in ''100 People'' were all elected, by constituencies small (Velella's State Senate district) or large (Jimmy Carter is No. 6). Who elected them? The face in the mirror, and in every other mirror of America. Similarly with all Goldberg's targets who sell movies, records or shares of stock. They have gained their prominence in the electorate of the marketplace. Goldberg acknowledges this point now and again, writing, for example, of the E! channel auteur Anna Nicole Smith (No. 53), ''Let's be perfectly honest: these people can only exist in a culture of voyeurs, a culture where there are enough people who actually care about this stuff.'' Who then is to blame? Shouldn't Goldberg's book be ''270 Million People Who Are Screwing Up America''?

I'm not exempting myself. Nor am I exempting the elite who think themselves above such pabulum (in particular, the New York Wankees at Angelika earlier this evening who cruelly laughed at--not with--Timothy Treadwell each time he embarrassed himself in Werner Herzog's Grizzly Man...my second disheartening experience in the West Village in as many nights).

But I feel like we're letting the real culprits off the hook when we focus our outrage on the people in front of the camera. Something much more degenerative is happening in front of the screen.
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