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The Age Of Snobbery

Discussion in 'Anything goes' started by Boom_70, Nov 16, 2006.

  1. Boom_70

    Boom_70 Well-Known Member

    David Brooks must read SportsJournalists.com. The only group he failed to mention was "Canadian Snobs"

    November 16, 2006
    Op-Ed Columnist
    The Heyday of Snobbery
    And so we enter the era of mass condescension. Thanks to the creativity of our cultural entrepreneurs, we enter a time when we can gather in large groups and look down at our mental, social and spiritual inferiors.

    In retrospect, it’s easy to see how this cultural moment crept up on us. There is “American Idol,” which allows the millions to watch Simon Cowell ridicule people who don’t realize how talentless they are. There is the middle segment of “The Daily Show,” during which correspondents sometimes go out and use postmodern interviewing techniques to humiliate rural goobers who think they were abducted by aliens or some such.

    Then there is the rise of culture-war comedians whose jokes heap scorn on the sorts of people who are guaranteed not to be in the audience. (“Megachurches,” Bill Maher joked recently on HBO, “are presided over by the same skeevy door-to-door Bible salesmen that we’ve always had, just in an age of better technology. But they’re selling the same thing: fear. Fear to keep you in line.”

    One could list other precursors and signs of the times: network magazine shows that taught TV professionals to use the power of ambush and editing to dominate their non-media-savvy prey; the “Jackass” movies, which acclimatized audiences to the mixture of suffering and laughter. But, of course, the crowning glory of the current moment is the “Borat” movie, an explosively funny rube-baiting session orchestrated by a hilarious bully.

    The genius of Sacha Baron Cohen’s performance is his sycophantic reverence for his audience, his refusal to challenge the sacred cows of the educated bourgeoisie. During the movie, Borat ridicules Pentecostals, gun owners, car dealers, hicks, humorless feminists, the Southern gentry, Southern frat boys, and rodeo cowboys. A safer list it is impossible to imagine.

    Cohen understands that when you are telling socially insecure audiences they are superior to their fellow citizens there is no need to be subtle. He also understands that any hint of actually questioning the cultural suppositions of his ticket-buyers — say by ridiculing the pretensions of somebody at a Starbucks or a Whole Foods Market — would fatally mar the self-congratulatory aura of the enterprise.
  2. Boom_70

    Boom_70 Well-Known Member

    Cohen also knows how to rig an unfair fight, and to then ring maximum humiliation and humor out of each situation. The core of his movie is that he and his audience know he is playing a role, and this gives him, and them, power over the less sophisticated stooges who don’t. The world becomes divided between the club of those who are in on the joke, and the excluded rubes who aren’t. The more tolerant the simpletons try to be toward Borat, the more he drags them into the realm of anti-Semitism and vileness. The more hospitable they try to be, the dumber they appear for not understanding the situation.

    In a society as fluid as ours, snobbery is constantly changing form, and in the latest wave of condescension media, various strains come together. We Jews know all about Borat’s Jewish snobbery — based on the assumption that Middle America’s acceptance of Jews must be a mirage, and that underneath every Rotarian there must be a Cossack about to unleash a continental pogrom.

    There’s also that distinct style of young person’s snobbery. Young people haven’t accomplished much yet so they can only elevate themselves by endlessly celebrating their own superior sensibilities. Finally, there’s blue America snobbery, as people on the coasts try to fathom those who would vote for George W. Bush. The only logical explanation is that they are racist, anti-Semitic idiots who can be blamelessly ridiculed.

    I suspect this wave of condescension media will repel as many people as it thrills. But it does illustrate an interesting shift in the culture.

    Eighty years ago, H. L. Mencken’s magazines, The Smart Set and The American Mercury, ridiculed exactly the same targets as today’s condescension mavens: evangelicals, Middle American boobs, etc. (I actually think today’s comedians are funnier than Mencken, though that may be a matter of taste.)

    Then, the condescending Menckenites were a small, educated sect, much less popular than the romantics who celebrated the Middle American common man in novels, movies and fanfares. Now, however, the Mencken sensibility is a mass phenomenon, found on networks and in multiplexes all across the country. We’ve democratized snobbery and turned it into a consumption item for the vast educated class. Popular culture has traveled from “The Grapes of Wrath” to Borat the magnificent.
  3. JR

    JR Active Member

    Chris Lynch will be along shortly and scold you for being a thief.
  4. David Brooks is as complete a fraud as has ever approached a keyboard.
    Here he is, a Connecticut squire in the most prestigious real estate in the elite media, doing his phony proletarian shtick again.
    If you like Omaha so much, you useless foof, go live there.
  5. Boom_70

    Boom_70 Well-Known Member

    I present

    Fenian Bastard - The H. L. Mencken of the 21 century
  6. heyabbott

    heyabbott Well-Known Member

    OUTING ALERT David Brooks is Ryan Sonner
  7. I'd rather be the Sasha Issenberg of the new century.
  8. Twoback

    Twoback Active Member

    OK, another sign of the apocalypse.
    Fenian and I agree 100 percent.
    If Hondo comes along and says he's with us, we'll have the left, middle and right completely covered.
  9. JR

    JR Active Member

    Good article Issenberg.

    I have not read Brooks' Bobos but it sounds suspiciously like this century's version of that great earthshattering book from back in the early 70's "The Greening of America".

    In other words, twaddle.
  10. sportschick

    sportschick Active Member

    If that happens, and then cats and dogs start living together, we're in end times.
  11. dooley_womack1

    dooley_womack1 Well-Known Member

    Why should someone who shops in a Whole Foods market be ridiculed? And Starbucks gets racked all the time. I don't know what the dude's argument is: Should we lampoon no one, or lampoon everyone?
  12. Bob Cook

    Bob Cook Active Member

    If David Brooks cops to watching "Reba" -- not once, but faithfully -- I'll believe he really means what he says.
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