Sunday, November 27, 2005

I just finished a wonderful article written by James Wolcott of Vanity Fair- and who would have guessed that Vanity Fair would have such wonderful writing- on par with anything in the Atlantic monthly, which my house has been subscribing to for years. I’m a fan already, and mother is as well, so its probable the she'll cancel her subscription to the ever-increasing blandness and popishness that is Newsweek (which hasn’t written a really good article in a long while) What waste Newsweek is sometimes, just re-hashing the news, not intense inspection- i rarely find anything interesting in there, except their weekly collection of political cartoons and outrageous quotes, that’s always fun, but its too general to really dive in deep to anything at all.

The article was on the subject of the republican's plans for the downfall of PBS, and there were many wonderful points made, but one thing that stuck out to me was the inherent problem with the conservative's argument of "elitism" in PBS, and this very well extends to their argument for taking funding out of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA for now).

Why are the NEA and media sources like PBS perceived as "elitist"? (aside from pure political bias)- well, its simply because both assume that the public needs to know or see certain things, things which they do not know at the moment- they are elitist because the gesture is that there are certain people who understand what is good for the public, whether the public realizes it or not.

But why is that inherently a flawed argument? if we were to condemn all that assumes the reader's or viewers ignorance on some subject, what’s the point of books that reveal disturbing facts about history, or current events? they're giving the public information that they surely don’t want to know, so certainly that elitist as well. Or for that matter, any news coverage of horrible events, natural disasters, the events in Iraq, tsunamis, the events in France, whatever. Wouldn’t the public be happier if they didn’t hear of these things? isn’t it elitist to assume that its good for the public to know about things people just don’t want to know about?

I certainly didn’t want to know about Bill Clinton's sex life in the Oval office, and I’m sure many in the public had no desire to learn of those things as well. Hm. Well, then, I guess that leaves me no choice but to condemn the republican investigation and subsequent scandal as elitist in principal. Well, fuck then- i guess that argument doesnt work.

My mother is convinced that we're in a period in which much of the public simply does not want to know about what’s happening in the world- Like Galileo with the Pope who refused to look through the telescope, people simply choose to be ignorant rather than allow themselves information that could disrupt their secure world-view.


Gary Freedman said...

Vanity Fair has great writing.

PWS said...

Yes they do. Wolcott is by far my favorite. That was a great article.

The only problem with the magazine is the obsession with lame celebrities from the 50s, fashion, and the 900 pages of perfume ads that make it smell like a Turkish whorehouse.