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Aug. 8 2002 12:03 PM

Vox Pop Rocks

The question "Who speaks?" resonates across The Fray—from politics to culture, whenever the question of representation arises, or whenever the Fray Editor has to yoke together a week's worth of posts.

But this week, "Who speaks?" became more a question of whom is being spoken for; that is, a question of populism. The Fray barked at William Saletan's attack on Gore's "people vs. the powerful" from both sides of the aisle. Then, in a strange twist, the "Chatterbox" Fray found new support for the populist campaign in Timothy Noah's analysis of federal spending trends.

Meanwhile, over in the Arts & Life, Business, and Technology sections, the iconoclasts were out in force, taking down the disposable heroes of our plutocracy. The Fray threw stones at Allen Iverson's sad-boy image, Bruce Springsteen's own aging vox, the struggle by video-gamers for cultural cred with reviewers, and the recent spate of Golem fiction.

Subject: Rhetoric and Reality

Re: "Ballot Box: What Gore Doesn't Get"

From: d

Date: Aug. 5, 2002 4:12 p.m.

No, [Saletan,] you're wrong. Gore's poll numbers went up when he switched to a populist message, and he pulled ahead in the race, eventually winning the popular vote by a 500,000 margin. Any rational analysis would suggest that Gore's personality, Clinton's impeachment and the butterfly ballot cost him the election, not his rhetoric. Both candidates were arguing about a narrow set of domestic issues (prescription drugs, social security, et al.). The reason Clinton wasn't as strongly anti-establishment was that Congress was controlled by the Democrats in 1992. Al Gore had to protect his flank against Ralph Nader to win the toss-up states, which he was largely successfully in doing—though he fell short in Florida and New Hampshire.

[Find this post here.]

The Messenger, Not the Message

Re: "Ballot Box: What Gore Doesn't Get"

From: Dallas

Date: Aug. 5, 2002 4:58 p.m.

Gore was right on the message. All you have to do is look at how the executives were treated at Enron and Global Crossing versus the employees who weren't allowed to sell their stock. On issue after issue Gore was correct—his Social Security proposal is the prime example.

The problem wasn't the message then but the messenger (Gore) who kept changing the script. The Republicans made stick the charge that Gore was constantly re-inventing himself. In other words, Bush made Gore the issue and that is exactly what the media focused on.

[Find this post here.]

Iverson Is Diggity; Mac Is Whack

Re: "Ad Report Card: Allen Iverson, Spokesthug"

Qui Tam

Date: Aug. 5, 2002 8:41 a.m.

The Iverson/Reebok ads demonstrate an approach that Apple/Mac ads should have tried. No wonder Reebok's revenues are up: Every adolescent in America identifies with the misunderstood, bad-but-not-really-a-bad-guy, ain't life awful? image presented by Iverson. (This also suggests that Iverson is much cagier than we suspect.)

Who wants to identify with the finger-kissing, nerdy, totally uncool artistes of the Mac ads? Don't they all look like people who listen to Moby and drink lattes?

[Find this post here.]

What Will Bring Us Together?

Re: "Music Box: The Poet Laureate of 9/11"

From: sabinal

Date: Aug. 6, 2002 4:23 p.m.

I was hoping that this review would not include the schmaltz that I read, but unfortunately, it did. I am thoroughly chilled at the marketing of a trauma like 9/11—how one album is supposed to "heal" or how some art is supposed to "bring the country together." Rubbish. If we were not together before we will not unite now. I have seen what I consider such advertising of things—from books to art to FDNY fireman's helmets—as blood money. Springsteen's heart is in the right place, but I think with the one-year anniversary of a fanatical terrorist attack of our nation [it] is in pretty poor taste.

[Find this post here.]

Subject: Subtext: The Inner Geek

Re: "Number 1: WarCraft III"

From: cmd

Date: Aug. 5, 2002 12:03 p.m.

There is a subtext to this story, and I can't tell if it's intentional or not, that the gaming industry doesn't get written about because pop-culture writers are too embarrassed by their adolescent D+D geekiness to dare discuss it in public.

[Find this post here.]

Subject: Literary Conceit Gooooood

Re: "Culturebox: Idol Worship"

From: Kassandra

Date: Aug. 6, 2002 11:58 a.m.

What exactly is the difference between a myth and a literary conceit? One is the expression of one person and the other is an emanation from Das Volk, is that it? But, so? Don't we want our literary types making new myths for us? And aren't emanations from Das Volk sometimes a little more than we want in the way of a Golem?

[Find this post here.]

Fray Notes:

That's rich, er, richly: "Moneybox" has been busy churning through our corporate crisis. This has made for some difficult Fraying, as responses to different articles pile into one another. A newcomer to the Moneybox Fray could do worse than to read mfbenson's contributions (such as those here and here).

Hitting for the cycle: Humanshield 15 shows what the "Sports Nut" Fray can do to a clever column when it puts its mind to it here; "a REAL critic" comes face to face with Full Frontal here.

Sneetch news: Stars to Cicero, Jack Dallas, NoStar/ratSoN, and Qui Tam. They can stop by the Best of the Fray Fray to read their citations and pick them up.

Crawford, Texas, here I come: Due to a prior engagement, there will be no Best of the Fray next week.

J.D. Connor is assistant professor of English and of Visual and Environmental Studies at Harvard. He is working on a book about neoclassical Hollywood.