Funny is funny.
And sincerity never goes out of style.
I’m freaked out. Every day I read three newspapers from cover to cover, I refresh their apps, comb news sites, trying to get a handle on what is going on.
I see Rupert Murdoch is sacrificing his Fox News empire to control Sky, which makes me wonder how much influence Rupert has anyway. It’s positively frightening when the media consults with the elected officials and tells them what’s going on, read Jim Rutenberg’s column, that’s exactly what Murdoch’s apparatchiks did.
And then we’ve got a President who ricochets like a pinball from one opinion to another. If I acted this way in college, I’d have flunked out. It was all about preparation and staying the course, knowing the consequences. What are the consequences to the shenanigans in D.C? I don’t know!
And then you have the “New York Times,” which in an effort to appear unbiased, even though the right wing has completely neutralized the news outlet and believe it is, hires a right wing columnist who says the problem with climate scientists is they’re just too strident, they’re just too convinced.
Hmm… We grew up in a nation where free speech was a mantra. But at what point do you channel Howard Beale and say I’m mad as hell and I’m not gonna take it anymore?
Turns out that Middlebury professor apologized to protesting students for not keeping them in the loop. We all want to be in the loop, we all want to know what’s going on, we all want to be considered.
And then there was that column re Ann Coulter and Berkeley… It’s not like she’s gone unheard, that she doesn’t get a platform.
And my point is when are the libtards, as my inane uneducated readers label the left wing, gonna grow a pair?
Last night Stephen Colbert did. He ravaged Donald Trump. A complete no-no, Karl Rove still has his knickers in a twist.
But I thank god someone stood up. Furthermore, he was funny. They’re trying to play gotcha politics, saying he made a homophobic comment, but the truth is money talks and Colbert is killing it in the ratings and CBS ain’t gonna do nothing to upset the juggernaut.
You see, taking a stand is good business.
Those of us who lived through the sixties know this, but those who didn’t, who came of age in the Ronald Reagan get mine before you can get yours MTV era, don’t.
So we’ve got a false equivalency in promotion. We believe the number one rule is not to offend anybody. But this is plain wrong, especially in a world where it’s nearly impossible to get attention anyway.
The world runs on buzz. How are you gonna get it?
By excelling at your job, by being sincere.
I know they are making new records, I know there’s a business there, but it’s peopled by self-centered wimps who are seemingly too dumb to take a stand. Don’t tell me it’s hard to write a hit protest song, Colbert’s writers come up with new material every night. You mean you can’t write a hit song if you try? Even with Max Martin and his team?
OF COURSE YOU CAN!
But you don’t want to take the risk.
The Dixies were chicked nearly a decade ago. We no longer live in that world. We live in a world of tribes, where everybody gets their own news from their own source, and your only hope is to energize your tribe so they spread the word elsewhere. PR doesn’t work, none of the usual marketing angles work. God, just open the paper, they’re always hyping somebody, and then the record disappears, just like that.
Artists take a stand, that’s what they do.
And then we come to the strange case of Jimmy Kimmel. Who built his career on irreverence and last night spent the better part of fifteen minutes telling the story of his newborn’s heart disease, at the end coming down hard against the right wing’s plan to eviscerate health care coverage and preexisting condition exclusion. Hell, his kid was BORN with a preexisting condition, what kind of chance did he have?
It’s hard to argue with personal experience.
But that’s what an artist does, channel personal experience.
For twenty five years, late night has been repeating the David Letterman hijinks formula. Until Agent Orange became President and Colbert decided to flip the script. And Jimmy Fallon, everybody’s darling, became like Frankie Avalon after the advent of the Beatles. And Fallon can’t change, he can’t catch up, because it’s not in his DNA.
But it is in Colbert’s.
And maybe it’s not in the DNA of today’s musical artists, but like Mr. Avalon and Mr. Fallon that just means they’re out of step with the times.
Taking a stand is good business. Controversy is good business. When it’s sincere, when it’s not fake.
And it’s been about fake marketing in the music business for oh-so-long.
Something’s gotta give. And chances are it won’t come from the usual suspects. Someone from left field is gonna stand up and the media is gonna fan the flames of the conflagration and it’s going to get ever bigger.
The only question is when.
Bert Johnson – The Middlebury Campus:
Will Bunch – Daily News