No One Saw the Carny Go
And the dwarves were given the task of digging the ditch
And laying the nag's carcass in the ground - Nick Cave
Fairytale of 9/11
Six years later, and another Tuesday, and it seems as though much of America and the world is still obsessed with the spectacular failure of Britney Spears last Sunday night on MTV.
How could this have happened? How many people in suits needed to be asleep at how many switches during rehearsals, to which Spears would show up hours late with a frozen margarita in hand? How could the breathtaking crash and burn have gone unanticipated by those whose business it is to do just that? The warning signs were flashing like a Christmas tree, and the chatter was incessant, hinting at a "Big Wedding" in Vegas. Most alarmingly, how could the VMA's producers have stood down for the three vulnerable minutes which would draw the most viewers and set the tone for the entire broadcast?
Somewhat surprisingly, mainstream sources can be found alluding to hidden and unspoken forces at play beneath the surface. The Washington Post, for instance, whispers of ratings which have been "sinking steadily since 2001," with last year's audience less than half of that six years ago. "MTV President Christina Norman called this year's version of the show a 'total reinvention,'" and the Post expected that the fiasco of "the Spears appearance likely will goose the ratings." [And the numbers are in: "A wobbly Britney Spears on your TV show is better than no Britney Spears. Ask MTV. Evidence comes from the network's surprisingly high-rated Video Music Awards, which soared in viewership 23% over last year's numbers, giving the show 7.08 million viewers. It was the highest-rated cable show among 12-34 viewers--5.0 million--this year. Moreover, MTV.com set records. On Monday, the day after the event, MTV posted its best daily traffic ever--2.6 million unique visitors--40% higher than a year ago."] A catastrophic success, as another showman once called another show.
But perhaps most damning for the network's complicity in Spears' public humiliation is its choice of Sarah Silverman to immediately follow her on stage, who then, predictably, "proceeded to bury her." Her caustic routine heavily underscored Spears' embarrassment - "25 years old and she's already accomplished everything she is going to accomplish in her life" - and winked at still stunned viewers that MTV was in on the joke.
Gossip blogger Perez Hilton put it bluntly: "MTV is the one that put Silverman on after Britney. They knew what they were doing!!!" While Kayne West, who knew for whom Bush's priorities were elsewhere during Katrina, has also intuited the meaning of September 9, 2007: "They exploited Britney in helping to end her career."
Now, a hard-line MTV MIHOPer would want to take Spears out of the picture all together, saying that wasn't really her (you know: distinguish between "Fat Britney" and "Skinny Britney") and ask simply, "Who benefited?" (Loose Change-like, there is already a revised video seriously analyzing the "physical evidence" for a loose heel. You can practically see the squibs.) But of course she had her own motive and intentions and naive expectations of benefit, which were used against her, and she believed herself to be in command of the situation, when in fact the situation was entirely out of her control.
Spears is a main-sequence star who has burned through her talent. As a credible performer she is spent, but as an unself-aware freak-for-hire she remains a precious, exploitable commodity. Which is why MTV let it happen on purpose.
A day earlier, Fox could have averted or ameliorated another live train wreck when Geraldo Rivera and Alex Jones crossed bullhorns. It didn't, and both Rivera and Jones got a chance to blovate to their bases with studied exasperation about "anarchists" and the "New World Order." It may not have been made to happen, but I doubt that any of the principals in this media circus were sorry that it had.
The Big Top
And speaking of circuses, I'm not fond of Big Tents. Whenever I hear the call to come together beneath one my inclination is to walk away briskly in the opposite direction. I won't say it's good that I want to do this every single time. Just most of the time, when it's the best.
Maybe it's partly a Canadian thing. Canada doesn't quite yet have America's circus culture of political action Big Tops, though there's still the call to conglomeracy, and the incomprehension when the invitation goes unanswered. The Liberals, when it suits them - naturally at election time - try to seduce the social democrat vote of the NDP to join their big tent on the left, though to many New Democrats the Liberal left looks indistinguishable from the right. The NDP, in turn, invite the Greens to join their not-quite-so big tent, but the parties' core values are not concomitant, and its best and most honest argument remains the elimination of competition. Because admission to the Big Tent is almost always unconditional surrender.
September 11th saw a Big Tent hastily erected that spanned the entire United States, sheltering virtually every American. Bush was polling in the 90s, and House and Senate Democrats made an even greater virtue of submission, particularly after its leadership received reprimanding letters accompanied with billions of finely-milled anthrax spores. "Bipartisanship" is as much a lie in American politics as partisanship is to the Democratic leadership, so long as the Big Tent advances a single agenda.
Six years on, and of course America has more than one Big Tent. It has two. And though they appear in opposition to one another, their competition is an illusion. They're both cynically run by the same circus family, and exist for entertainment purposes only.
Step Right Up
In a press release announcing his decision to oppose the House resolution on 9/11, Dennis Kucinich writes that "if Congress really wanted to honor the memory of those who died on September 11, we would cause the full truth to be told to the American people." Kucinich is also sponsoring two congressional hearings this Fall into certain "financial issues" of September 11, and is the only presidential candidate who would think of - and dare to - ask a roomful of voters, "How many of you believe that the whole story of 9/11 has not been told?" And yet Kucinich is decidedly not the preferred choice of most full-throated activists under the "Inside Job" Big Tent. Why is that? Six years on, who's running this circus?
Listen to the amplified voices of New Truth and pay attention to where they've pitched their tent. If you're not already there yourself by conscious choice, it may surprise you. They'll tell you that "Left" and "Right" are fictions woven by the same enslavers, and then launch into uncompromising, nativist rants against foreigners (the Mexicans are coming), denial of environmental crises (an affront to property rights and individualism), internationalism (paranoid fear of the "blue helmet"), taxation and gun control. And listen attentively to some others, influential yet off the main stage, and you'll hear Larouchian tropes, "Patriot" and militia jargon, coded speech about "international bankers" and the necessities of historical "revision." ("Suspecting what the Israeli/Palistine conflict is really about," posts "Killtown", "the strong evidence Israel was involved with 9/11, and seeing how 9/11 was faked in general, it makes me wonder how much of the Holocaust was true or not.... WingTV seems to think the Holocaust was a major hoax like 9/11 was along with Judicial-Inc.")
In 2007, the largest tent for "9/11 Truth" in America is led and dominated by conservatives, far-right "Patriots" and Libertarians. So naturally it follows the choice for President is not Kucinich, who would "take our guns" and do something righteous with federal power instead of abolish it, but Ron Paul, even though his position on 9/11 is better described as blowback than "inside job." ("I believe very sincerely that the CIA is correct when they teach and talk about blowback," said Paul.)
The depth of Paul's support is debatable, but it's almost implausibly broad. From Kucinich's base of support - one Kucinich campaign worker writes that she's trying "to figure a way to bring these democrats to Dennis Kucinich. He is Ron Paul on steriods. That's what I tell them anyway." - to white nationalist "9/11 Truth" activists on Stormfront (I won't link to Stormfront, but it's not difficult to find):
Anyone who doesn't vote for Paul on this site is an assclown. Sure he doesn't come right out and say he is a WN, who cares! He promotes agendas and ideas that allow Nationalism to flourish. If we "get there" without having to raise hell, who cares; aslong as we finally get what we want. I don't understand why some people do not support this man, Hitler is dead, and we shall probably never see another man like him.
Pat Buchanan's book "Where the Right Went Wrong" is a prime example of getting the point across without having the book banned for anti semitism. The chapters about the war in Iraq sound like a BarMitzvah, but he doesn't have to put the Star of David next to each name for us to know what he means. We are running out of options at this point, and I will take someone is 90% with us versus any of the other choices.
Not to mention if Paul makes a serious run, he legitimizes White Nationalism and Stormfront, for God's sake David Duke is behind this guy!
There have been concerns expressed about what Paul may believe regarding race. Of greater concern to progressive Americans should be what he undoubtedly and unabashedly embraces: the end of much social spending and corporate regulation, such as it still exists in the United States. The vision of governance, and what public office can and should do, is the inversion of progressive values and the exclamation point to the end of the New Deal. Paul's radical Libertarianism would make him a privateer's wet-dream president: Grover Norquist's ideal henchman, holding the federal government beneath the bathwater while it drowned.
Now, Paul seems like an honest enough guy, and appears to hold his positions with integrity. But in politics, integrity is a commodity that intentionally obfuscates policy with character. And it is also a tactic common to populist fascist movements of the last century. That's not to equate Paul with Hitler or Mussolini or Peron. There are many good reasons why the comparisons are absurd. But it bears reminding that fascism is populist: its voices the loudest; its tents among the biggest; its appeal, appallingly broad.
I want to be the minority.