Friday, January 9, 2009

Joe Scarborough Namedrops in Attempt to Commodify GenX Dissent

These days, the GOP is desperate to figure out how to commodify liberal dissent. Joe Scarborough has gone from taking pot shots at Paul Krugman to namedropping "Elvis Costello":

Hmmm. Where have I heard Elvis Costello namedropped before? Mr. Brooks?:
Elvis Costello and The Talking Heads’s David Byrne popularized a cool geek style that’s led to Moby, Weezer, Vampire Weekend and even self-styled “nerdcore” rock and geeksta rappers.

The future historians of the nerd ascendancy will likely note that the great empowerment phase began in the 1980s with the rise of Microsoft and the digital economy...

But the biggest change was not Silicon Valley itself. Rather, the new technology created a range of mental playgrounds where the new geeks could display their cultural capital. The jock can shine on the football field, but the geeks can display their supple sensibilities and well-modulated emotions on their Facebook pages, blogs, text messages and Twitter feeds. Now there are armies of designers, researchers, media mavens and other cultural producers with a talent for whimsical self-mockery, arcane social references and late-night analysis.

They can visit eclectic sites like and Cool Hunting, experiment with fonts, admire Stewart Brand and Lawrence Lessig and join social-networking communities with ironical names. They’ve created a new definition of what it means to be cool, a definition that leaves out the talents of the jocks, the M.B.A.-types and the less educated. In “The Laws of Cool,” Alan Liu writes: “Cool is a feeling for information.” When someone has that dexterity, you know it...

Among adults, the words “geek” and “nerd” exchanged status positions. A nerd was still socially tainted, but geekdom acquired its own cool counterculture. A geek possessed a certain passion for specialized knowledge, but also a high degree of cultural awareness and poise that a nerd lacked.

The news that being a geek is cool has apparently not permeated either junior high schools or the Republican Party. George Bush plays an interesting role in the tale of nerd ascent. With his professed disdain for intellectual things, he’s energized and alienated the entire geek cohort, and with it most college-educated Americans under 30. Newly militant, geeks are more coherent and active than they might otherwise be.

Barack Obama has become the Prince Caspian of the iPhone hordes. They honor him with videos and posters that combine aesthetic mastery with unabashed hero-worship. People in the 1950s used to earnestly debate the role of the intellectual in modern politics. But the Lionel Trilling authority-figure has been displaced by the mass class of blog-writing culture producers.
That gosh durn "hippie" adversarial culture and their attempts to represent for the reality based community!! But wait, maybe if we do some hand wavy things, we can distract from what's happened over the past 8 years and bestow on people the mind-altering experience of associating Dick Cheney and Elvis Costello. Wow. Dude. Now that's some mind blowing countercultural stuff. Cheney must be cool.

By the way, being the "Media Maven Culture Producer" that I am, here's the original Daily Show Cheney/Vader locus classicus:

And here's Elvis (I think the two clips go well together):

You're nobody in this town
You're nobody in this crowd
You're nobody till everybody in this town
Knows you're poison,
Got your number, knows it must be avoided...
You're nobody 'till everybody in this town thinks you're a bastard...
Congratulations, Dick Cheney and Joe Scarborough, you *are* somebody!!

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