While it may seem that the best posts of this week's Fray have run the gamut from pop culture to weighty constitutional questions, from where I sit, they are Sun Tzu for a new Fray editor: helpful advice on how to divide and conquer, how to love the anti-social, how to revel in the difference between what someone says and what someone means, how to know when to exercise judicial power, and how to know when one is guilty of too much self-reference.
Subject: Can We Appreciate the '80s Without Liking Them?
Re: "Music Club: Like, Omigod! The '80s Pop Culture Box (Totally)"
From: Captain Ron Voyage
Date: Jun 24 2002 2:14 PM
As evidence of one positive thing about the '80s, I submit a single oeuvre: the Beverly Hills Cop soundtrack. This record made Top 40 hits for several artists, all from different genres: rock (Glenn Frey's "The Heat Is On"), R & B (Pointer Sisters' "Neutron Dance," Patti LaBelle's "New Attitude"), electro ("Axel F."). As awful as these songs are, could we imagine a soundtrack today containing huge hits by, say, Autechre, Whitney Houston, and John Mellencamp? I think not. Pop music today is Balkanized into a billion homogenized microgenres—"alt-country?" "Rock" has become "classic rock," "nu metal," "rap-metal," etc. The term "R & B," once a catchall, has been narrowed to the point where it only includes groups like Usher and Destiny's Child. Pity.
Subject: Better Than What?
Re: "Television: Hello Kitty"
Date: Jun 20 2002 2:02 PM
Sesame Street celebrates a much broader spectrum of human character and invites children to recognize the complexities of social behavior. Cookie Monster and Oscar the Grouch are not the epitome of evil despite their somewhat anti-social behavior. They are not perfect and they don't always behave as they are supposed to, but we learn to love them anyway. If these shows are supposed to teach kids how to "learn strategies to deal with their fears," and make friends and deal with peer pressure, aren't Cookie Monster and Oscar better approximations of some of the difficult personalities we encounter in our own lives? It's hard to imagine similar characters receiving such favorable treatment on Sagwa. And, personally, I'd rather spend an uninterrupted afternoon with Oscar than with Sagwa any day.
Subject: Kinsley on Fairness and Balance
Re: "Readme: King George"
Date: Jun 21 2002 6:15 AM
I share the desire for fairness and balance, but I know full well it can never happen with an anchor or the writer for an anchor ... As with other "politicians," they must make an attempt to be "all things to all people" ... However, I do not agree with the assessment you gave Brokaw and Williams. Part of the reason we have always liked Brian Williams is we detect his honest feelings coming through as he makes an effort to "read the news as written" ... he is one of the good guys, and we always smile as we are certain we heard what Brian said and what Brian meant. Brokaw is that way ... sometimes.
Subject: Good for Dellinger
Re: "The Breakfast Table"
Date: Jun 24 2002 9:33 AM
[Dellinger] has the good sense to understand that judicial overreaching is not a liberal or a conservative problem but an institutional one that should be resisted by everyone who has a shred of faith in democracy and, in particular, in the increasingly quaint idea that popular legislatures should make legislative decisions. …
There is a longer-term insidious consequence of judicial overreaching, too, that takes the form of executives and legislatures dallying about nearly everything really controversial in the hope—increasingly realized—that they will be relieved of the hot potatoes by the courts, especially the SCOTUS.
Subject: Advertising as Logos (Minority Report)
Re: "Ad Report Card: The Ad-Friendly World of Minority Report"
From: Qui Tam
Date: Jun 24 2002 3:41 PM
The eerie ads in Minority Report are SUPPOSED to be there: That's how Phillip K. Dick wrote this and other stories. His masterpiece Ubik envisions a world of nonstop, omnipresent, personalized advertising, which we are beginning to experience today.
[Quoting Dick:]"It is obvious ... who and what Ubik is; it specifically says that it is the word, the Logos. …
When all things began, the brand name
already was. The brand name dwelt with
God, and what God was, the brand name was."
This is a recurring theme in Dick's short stories and novels: Commercial messages transformed into the spiritual, or the spiritual message disguised as advertising. Has Corporate America become Logos?
[Find this post here.]
There were many excellent Fray posts reckoning with the death of Slate writer Scott Shuger. To read some of the best ones, go to Michael Kinsley's "ReadMe," and scroll to the bottom.
Mangar explains that the Fray is the best test prep here.
And NoStar divined the names behind my initials here.