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January 27, 2006

Piling On Joel Whatshisname

I was actually in my car listening to this squirrel on the Hugh Hewitt show last Friday. It was yet another of Hewitt's masterful disembowelings, I am coming to expect. One of the things that captivated me about the interview - which is something finally I think Hewitt may come to embody - is Hugh's recognition of the value of work. I mean work in the modern sense of the word, not as his subject thinks, in the post-modern sense. A columnist at the LAT whose editor passed no contextual judgement on a weekly thousand words or so is not working in the modern sense. He is filling space.

In many ways I am coming to think of editors of newspapers like the LA Times rather like I think of the old business development blueshirts of Silicon Valley who 'monetized clicks'. Check out this dialog:

HH: Do you honor the service that their son did?

JS: To honor the service their son...now this is a dumb question, but what do you mean by honor? That's a word you keep using. I'm not entirely...maybe that's my problem. But I'm not entirely sure what you're...

HH: Honor usually means gratitude and esteem. Are you grateful for and esteem what he did? Honestly?

JS: Honestly? I admire the bravery. I don't...you know, I feel like he did something I could never do, so I'm kind of in awe on some level. Am I grateful, that I feel like he protected me? Um, no I don't.

HH: And so, do you think he died in vain?

JS: Yeah. I do. And that's why I'm so horrified by all this, and why I don't want empty sentiments prolonging the war.

Empty sentiments? This guy has a lot of nerve talking about empty sentiments considering what he calls working for a living.

Perhaps it doesn't seem fair that half the blogosphere, or at least a significant portion out here on the West Coast has gone knocking on this guy's forehead looking for evidence of a soul, but I think we all should. So I am piling on in hopes that at some point in our history we will be able to look back at people who drink whiskey and know that we're not just doing it to offend the non-smoking PC crowd. We drink because it actually hurts our heads to listen to such claptrap. Has all honest reporting gone to sportswriting? If only Frank DeFord could edit the LA Times.

I haven't really opined on the matter tangential to this which is the destiny of the Disney Company and brand under the influence of Steve Jobs. In many ways he is a great master of the post-modern. Apple Computers are great silly machines that make people millionaires, but don't do any real work. The real number crunching power in the computing world happens in software like Oracle and SAP and in databases like DB2 and Teradata. Apples play music and drive millions of colors onto large flat panel screens in service of software applications like 'Garage Band' and a hundred different i-somethings. He has monetized clicks, and his next bombshell is getting these same slack jawed audiences who find his style irresistable to put down good money in order to buy music videos from the iTunes Music Store. Yes. Now you can pay to watch Gorillaz. Just wait until U2 creates an iTunes only release of a music video that costs 2 bucks to see.

Part of me says that Joel Whatshisname is not representative of our young minds, and yet I know that kids are getting obese and that the very idea of a 'Man of Action' seems vaguely offensive to the new squirrel voiced sensibilities Gerard so aptly sees as neutered. And yet I am so acutely aware of the fact that so many 'persons' in our society are calling themselves 'guys'. I am not raising my son to be a guy, a homie, a dude, or some sort of male specimen. Can you imagine asking Joel 'what kind of man are you' and getting a straight answer? (double entendre not intended). No, you can not.

Although it was the point of Hewitt's discussion, this is not only pertinent to matters of responsible journalism and supporting troops, but to the very value of doing something substantial and getting the respect integrity deserves. It is more than simply disheartening that we live in an mediasphere populated by squirrels. Their daily mincing of words and garbling of concretes in spin is a direct threat to the level of discussion we citizens engage. If it is up to the blogs and the well connected radio personalities to fight the good fight, it won't be enough. We all need to reject the empty posturing of the Joel Whathisnames of the world, lest we lose sight of reality in a semiotic swamp.

Look at that Malcolm X video again. What you will hear is straight talk. We owe it to ourselves and our nation to bring about the change that will bring straight talk back to the center of our communications with each other. Until then, this is not America and we are not men and women.

Posted by mbowen at January 27, 2006 02:34 PM

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I've shown my two teenage daughters clips of Malcolm X, and Denzel Washingon's nifty imitation, and told them if you want to speak in public, this is how you speak. period.

oh well, cool post.

Posted by: Jeff Cook at January 27, 2006 10:35 PM

Straight talking isn't "cute" in today's America. "Cuteness" is the game, squirrels are the playas and WHAT! Supporting the troops is the normal human reaction regardless of how you feel about the war. So I see a soldier from Iraq back home and I'm supposed to give them the blues if I didn't support the war? Bump dat!

Posted by: T-Steel [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 28, 2006 11:38 AM