Some amusing nastiness from James Wolcott, on the development of the next hit reality TV show, tentatively entitled Reality.
Like soul brother Beck, Sarah Palin has moonshot herself into a zero-gravity zone that is beyond parody, where brazen self-caricature takes on the bold outlines of cartoon stardom and nothing she does perturbs her fan base. They have adopted her as their mommy savior and the ridicule and criticism she receives only endear her more to the faithful, proof of how much she gets under liberals’ prickly skin. With each new iteration of herself (tweeter, best-selling author, Fox News political analyst, Facebook avenger), Palin becomes more of an infotainment fembot, an irresistible force impervious to the political rules that hamstring lesser phonies. Had Al Gore or John Kerry made the gaffe Palin made over the Korean conflict (“Obviously, we have got to stand with our North Korean allies”), it would have been pin-the-tail-on-their-donkey-butts for weeks, whereas for Palin it’s just another dot in the pointillism of her ongoing cavalcade. Palin’s worst enemies have never been David Letterman, the “lamestream media,” or Katie Couric but her own insatiability for attention, a narcissism with no Off button or volume knob.
Wolcott cites David Seaton for the interesting idea that the bug-eyed craziness of Beck et. al., is a (conscious?) strategy on the part of the Lords of Capital:
A blogger named David Seaton provided the keenest insight into the tactical superiority of Beck’s home-brewed surrealism. “To understand what Beck is doing, to understand him, you must suspend your capacity for rational thought and just let the emotions wash over you and try to take note of them as they assault your endocrine system,” Seaton wrote. As America enters the downward slope of empire—its debt mounting, the disparity between wealthy and poor continuing to chasm, the environmental ravages becoming irreversible, high unemployment becoming the cruel norm—the Richie Riches have a vested interest in misdirecting people by blaming the powerless for the sins of the powerful. Incoherence isn’t a bug in Beck’s software program, it’s the primary directive. Seaton: “That is what the Tea Party, Fox, etc is all about: keeping people from thinking straight. The idea is to play on people’s emotions: fear, hate, racism, xenophobia, just to keep them from doing the math. The Teabaggers, Beck, [Gingrich] and Fox [News] are often criticized for not making any sense This is not a failure of communication or an error on their part That is the object of the exercise: to make rational thought difficult or impossible due to emotional overload.”
As is so often the case in this postmodern world, what was once satire is now sociology:
In its second minute the Hate rose to a frenzy. People were leaping up and down in their places and shouting at the tops of their voices in an effort to drown the maddening bleating voice that came from the screen. The little sandy-haired woman had turned bright pink, and her mouth was opening and shutting like that of a landed fish. Even O’Brien’s heavy face was flushed. He was sitting very straight in his chair, his powerful chest swelling and quivering as though he were standing up to the assault of a wave. The dark-haired girl behind Winston had begun crying out ‘Swine! Swine! Swine!’ and suddenly she picked up a heavy Newspeak dictionary and flung it at the screen. It struck Goldstein’s nose and bounced off; the voice continued inexorably. In a lucid moment Winston found that he was shouting with the others and kicking his heel violently against the rung of his chair. The horrible thing about the Two Minutes Hate was not that one was obliged to act a part, but, on the contrary, that it was impossible to avoid joining in. Within thirty seconds any pretence was always unnecessary. A hideous ecstasy of fear and vindictiveness, a desire to kill, to torture, to smash faces in with a sledge-hammer, seemed to flow through the whole group of people like an electric current, turning one even against one’s will into a grimacing, screaming lunatic