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NASCAR Projectors

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Roy Edroso notes that Glenn Reynolds linked to a review of a couple books about NASCAR that was, indeed, bad enough to be a cover story of the Times book review (and apparently they ran out of books by or about Times employees to put on the cover.) The thing is, though, Reynolds completely misinterprets the review, which “reveals” only the lazy thinking of its author. The stereotypes are not the author’s, but rather perceptions he’s projecting onto eeeeevilllll “blue staters”:

For a certain segment of the population, Nascar’s raid on American culture — its logo festoons everything from cellphones to honey jars to post office walls to panties; race coverage, it can seem, has bumped everything else off television; and, most piercingly, Nascar dads now get to pick our presidents — triggers the kind of fearful trembling the citizens of Gaul felt as the Huns came thundering over the hills. To these people, stock-car racing represents all that’s unsavory about red-state America: fossil-fuel bingeing; lust for violence; racial segregation; run-away Republicanism; anti-intellectualism (how much brain matter is required to go fast and turn left, ad infinitum?); the corn-pone memes of God and guns and guts; crass corporatization; Toby Keith anthems; and, of course, exquisitely bad fashion sense. What’s more, they simply don’t get it. What’s the appeal of watching . . . traffic? It’s as if ”Hee Haw” reruns were dominating prime time, and the Republic was slapping its collective knee at Grandpa Jones’s ”What’s for supper?” routine. With Nascar’s recent purchase of a swath of real estate on Staten Island, where it intends to plop down an 80,000-seat racetrack and retail center for the untapped New York City market, the onslaught seems poised on the brink of full-out conquest. Cover your ears, blue America. The Huns are revving their engines.

If I may be permitted to state the obvious, this is just unadulterated horseshit. In most blue state urban areas, nobody cares about NASCAR. If NASCAR takes up a few hours on FOX on the weekends or people like going to it, good for them. It’s true that I, like many people (both above and below the Mason-Dixon line) find NASCAR boring. I also find the NBA and most action movies boring, and many people find things I like boring, and while this can occasionally lead to a good-natured argument over drinks these differences of taste are hardly crucial cultural signifiers. This idea that blue staters are obsessed with NASCAR is 100% pure projection. It’s about Southern insecurity, combined with (as Roy points out) the double-standard stereotyping about blue staters that dominates the media. It’s the media, not members or the electorate, that thinks “NASCAR dads” is a useful category. The idea that NASCAR dominates the thoughts of blue-staters is media solipsism right out of the Cokie Roberts school.

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