Tuesday, October 12, 2010

This Says More About You Than It Does About Us

Via Anne Laurie at Balloon Juice comes this semi-satirical (I hope) piece in Esquire, “How D.C. Became Hollywood for Semi-Attractive People.” The premise is that Republicans are ascendent because they have stars like Sarah Palin and Christine O’Donnell who happen to be attractive women, and they’re fun to watch because they spew crazy shit. The Democrats are boring, and their women, says the article, “are either old or unattractive.” When given a choice between old/unattractive and boring vs. attractive and entertaining/crazy, the American voter will take the latter, according to Esquire at least.

Before you think Tom Junod just watched this video too many times, hear him out:
The reality-television baseline is becoming the standard of beauty in this country: If you can say really crazy things or lead a really crazy life and become a star, well, then you must be beautiful. The Republicans have cornered the market on beauty because they've cornered the market on crazy, and if they've failed to produce a "candidate" in Delaware, they've succeeded in producing a star, and have made all the tut-tutting pundits look as behind the times as the newspapers they serve. Wherever populism reared its head, there used to be sweaty men; now — in country music, at Fox, and in crossover "Islamaphobe" bloggers who get their picture pasted on the Sunday Times — there are at least semi-sexy women.

Okay, I’m going to call bullshit here, with a bullhorn.


Sarah Palin lost. Her candidates lose. Christine O’Donnell will lose. They may be attractive and entertaining but they don’t win elections.

Tom Junod and the rest of the media elites may have a hard-on for these women but the country does not want them in elected office. They are “stars” because they are “media-genic” -- Christine O’Donnell was on television long before she was a political candidate, as the current avalanche of embarrassing video from Bill Maher now illustrates. But that is because she fits the media’s idea of what is attractive and entertaining. It certainly doesn’t mean that this is what voters want in their politicians.

Sure, the superficialities matter -- Scott Brown is a case in point. But last I checked, Republican candidates like Rand Paul and Joe Miller aren’t exactly stud muffins. Sharron Angle is no cover girl. So, while I’m trying to be fair to Tom Junod (and Anne Laurie), I think this is BS.

It’s a midterm election, people. The economy sucks. We have a lot of problems in this country, a lot of fear, a lot of anxiety. So when Junod writes

They didn't realize that what we want is drama and nothing but ...

my answer is no. Just, no. We have enough drama as it is. You people are the one who wants the drama, Mr. Junod. It’s the media who demands the crazy and the pretty and the studly. Not the public. It's YOU who turn these people into stars.

Cripes. Don't saddle us with your neurosis, buddy.