Friday, July 01, 2011

Pre 4th of July Post #1. Linking a Really Awful American Spirit Essay.

I call this one #1 as who knows? I might find some other stuff on line that will follow in the American Spirit (or what not) theme.

So here is the awful essay. I call it awful as not only is the compositional style rather poor (it seems more like a series of sentences, rather than a cogent essay.) But the point of departure and where the essay ends up, and the points raised are sort of silly. I could wrack my brain for a better descriptive. I have already called the essay awful. I don't need to escalate. Anyway.

Oddly posted under the category of " POLITICAL COLUMN," the essay is titled,"Fanfare for the Common Man." I confess that when I saw the headline/link, I sorta groaned, but decided to check it out to see if it was as bad as I instantly expected. And what I expected was a garden variety, anti elitist, rednecky, distorted account of the American Mythology. And it turns out it wasn't exactly that, but it was distorted, in it's own weird little way.

Oddly enough, the writer chose as point of departure some tale about some statewide Miss America competition (Wisconsin.) He romanticized that, even before drawing a weird conclusion that led to the rest of his essay. But before I get to that, let me briefly mention my experience with "The Pageant System." I was on the fringe of that scene, years ago. My friend has been designing gowns for contestants for decades. I have been his photographer. And at one time he was running a local pageant. He never let me judge (likely because he suspected that I'd pick which ever contestant flirted with me more. That's likely, I admit.) So back in those days, I just helped out with production and ran the video cam. And yes, I have been back stage at the national competition, although not on broadcast night. It's a multi day event, really.

Anyway, point is, I know that there's nothing common about the pageant system. The amount of money it costs to buy a (make that several, actually) custom made gown, like my friend used to make, means that the pageant system is basically closed to the daughters of the common man. For the most part. And since the whole thing is about finding an exceptional young woman (under the rules and standards) the last thing the pageant system can be called is common. Sorry I went long there, but that is where this guy started; with an analogy that is dead on arrival. And it gets no better.

Let's see. After that he goes on some weird tangent. Not the ordinary common man theme, but actually the America was founded and built by failures, theme. Sure, that was part of it. But to describe America generally as a country built by failures? That's some messed up shit. I really don't get his point. And I really don't get why Politco published that shit. I do not intend to celebrate America's Failures this Independence Day. I will celebrate it's successes. And by that I mean at the meta level, and as well, at the personal level. Yes. I mean yes, it's totally obvious to note that the heavy lifting gets done by the common man. But we also have been advanced as a society, and as a nation, by our exceptional citizens. I won't go long, but what would the American Mythology be without Ben Franklin, Robert Fulton, the Roeblings, Samuel Colt, Thomas Edison, and on and on and on.

Putting aside the weird "failure" line of argument, I have to say I really hate this simplistic sort of either/or thinking in this particular context. Not because of the falseness of the class war angle (what's with these wing nuts and all that bullshit anyway?) Here, the class war angle is less the point. But what offends me more is the reductionist, revisionist, delusional rape of the actual facts behind the American Myth. America is far from perfect. But shit. America deserves to have the record accurately, and truthfully told. Let's show her that much respect on her holiday weekend. Please?

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