Bobby Jindal was supposed to be the GOP’s Great Nonwhite Hope, a potential challenger to Barack Obama in 2012 who would match the Democrat in youth and exotic ethnicity. But then we heard him speak — giving the official Republican response to the president’s speech on Tuesday night — and his chances for a presidential nomination were suddenly sunk. Not just because of his reality-challenged remarks, but also because of his unmistakable vocal resemblance to Jack McBrayer. No offense to the 30 Rock star (see video below), but America is not going to elect someone who sounds like Kenneth the NBC Page. Still, you have to love how the Republicans are apparently letting Lorne Michaels cast their young hopefuls — first, veep nominee Tina Fey, and now Louisiana Governor Kenneth. Can’t wait to see who the GOP equivalent of Tracy Morgan is.
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My Friday chats with Mark Reardon of KMOX-AM in St. Louis continue with this look back at the top entertainment stories of 2008 and a preview of the likely highlights of 2009.
Gary Susman talks to KMOX’s Mark Reardon, 1/2/09
All art is political. To make art is to remake the world, either as you envision the world to be, as you wish it to be, or as you wish it not to be — so making art is always a political act. The artist’s political statement may not be intentional or even conscious, but nonetheless, by making art, he or she is initiating a political conversation. And by interacting with and interpreting the art, the viewer is adding to the political conversation. That’s why the discourse over culture — between artist and viewer, between artist and critic and viewer, or among artists or critics or viewers — is so important to me.
How we talk to each other about culture — which ususally means, how we talk to each other about popular culture — is how we talk to each other about the world we live in, or the world we would like to live in. At this time of hyperpartisanship, we have few other ways of talking about such matters in a way that gives us all common ground. We can barely speak to each other directly about issues of criminal justice or torture or authoritarianism, but we can all talk about The Dark Knight, thereby addressing these issues without throttling each other.
This blog will explore the intersection of politics and popular culture. This crossroads has always fascinated me, but it also seems to be of interest to many at a moment when conservatives gripe about positive portrayal of Barack Obama in a Spider-Man comic book, or when Tina Fey’s lampooning of Sarah Palin may have helped decide the election. I’ll be writing about what our popular culture is really saying about us (however unwittingly), how partisans read (or misread) the culture and try to use it to their own ends, and how, in this age of niche politics and niche pop culture, we may yet find a measure of unity through the movies, TV shows, music, and books that speak to us of the world that is and the world that could be.