Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘kitsch

The Stephen Sofert

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Written by gerrycanavan

January 12, 2011 at 5:27 pm

Rudy Giuliani’s Ego Saves the World

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Did Giuliani sink Palin’s speech? Apparently Rudy was having so much fun he started improvising, going long and forcing the Republicans to cut Palin’s video biography. As Kevin Drum writes, the video bios are kitschy, sappy, and highly effective—and most importantly Palin’s fiery speech was written to be delivered after a hagiographic video that established her as a sympathetic and impressive figure of national stature. Without the video to bolster her, the speech came across quite differently; perhaps this, more than anything else, is why independents weren’t buying.

In other words, is it possible that Rudy Giuliani’s ego just saved the world?

UPDATE: TPM has the video as released to Fox News, describing it as “a glimpse into how the Republicans were planning to sell a soft-focus version of Palin’s life as a soft-peddled intro into the harsh, partisan, and undeniably successful speech that followed.”

Written by gerrycanavan

September 4, 2008 at 6:19 pm

Quick Links

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Quick links.

* Is McCain’s unvetted VP pick really associated with the Alaskan Independence Party (actual self-description: “No longer a fringe party”)? Really? Is this a joke?

* Johann Hari tries to game out the partisan political implications of Hurricane Gustav. I’m reserving judgment—you can’t underestimate how much Americans love kitsch, and I think McCain’s political opportunism in heading to the disaster zone could play really well among low-information voters. You and I know that a high-profile visit like this draws needed resources away from rescue efforts, but sad to say most swing voters just aren’t that savvy.

* So what if Kafka enjoyed porn?

* And, via Cynical-C, Steve Buscemi on The Big Lebowski.

Written by gerrycanavan

September 1, 2008 at 2:03 pm

Random Links

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Random links in anticipation of the big speech tonight.

* Wikipedia’s page on the crucial compound unobtanium. Via kottke.

* A brief history of tabloids.

* Geographically misplaced statues of pop-culture icons.

* McCain gets prickly with Time.

There’s a theme that recurs in your books and your speeches, both about putting country first but also about honor. I wonder if you could define honor for us?
Read it in my books.

I’ve read your books.
No, I’m not going to define it.

But honor in politics?
I defined it in five books. Read my books.

* 9 very cool bridges.

* Have we hit Peak Tequila?

* And Banksy visits New Orleans.

Written by gerrycanavan

August 28, 2008 at 7:08 pm

On November 15, 2007, Kitsch Became Self-Aware

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Strolling through Bed, Bath, and Beyond today, I discovered the hilariously named Mangroomer, a “do-it-yourself electric back shaver” which struck me in several ways as probably the most ridiculous consumer product of all time.

Its grip on the title, however, was short-lived; when I got to the checkout counter, what was waiting for me there but Chicken Soup for the American Idol Soul? Don’t miss the subtitle: Stories from the Idols and their Fans that Open Your Heart and Make Your Soul Sing. On November 15, 2007, kitsch became self-aware.

Written by gerrycanavan

January 7, 2008 at 3:27 am

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Old Soviet Christmas Cards

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I think this was via Drawn!, but wherever I found it: vintage Soviet Christmas cards. Веселое рождество!

Written by gerrycanavan

December 22, 2007 at 2:07 pm

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And speaking of kitsch: Seinfeld

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And speaking of kitsch, it’s good to see Kundera being name-checked in discussions about the ne plus ultra of bullshit Fox News controversies, the sad, stupid tale of whether or not Obama should be wearing a flag pin on his lapel. Too bad it’s only happening on blogs.

I very much supported, and was personally very moved by, the displaying of flags after 9/11. I think it was important, after the shock and trauma of that day, to grieve and to spend time considering who we are, together, as Americans. Very quickly, however, display of the flag metastasized into a mawkish symbol of tribal identification for the right, which is what it remains. If you front the flag, you’re with us. If you don’t, you’re suspect. I think this obsession with things, furnishings, accoutrements, flag pins, commemorative plates, songs about boots in asses, is perfectly emblematic of patriotism as it exists for much of the right. It’s become essentially a form of kitsch. Milan Kundera described this in The Unbearable Lightness of Being:

“Kitsch causes two tears to flow in quick succession. The first tear says: How nice to see children running on the grass. The second tear says: How nice to be moved, together with all mankind, by children running on the grass! The second tear makes kitsch kitsch.”

The flag pin has little to do with actual patriotism, has much to do with getting misty eyed over the idea of one’s patriotism: “Yes, how wonderful that I am a patriot, with other patriots.” Conservatives may willingly acquiesce to Bush’s dismantling of the constitution, they may cheer for his ceaselessly disastrous foreign policy, but at least they’re wearing their flag pins!

Obviously, by eschewing flag pins, Obama’s not “ceding the flag,” he’s ceding the kitsch, and good for him.

UPDATE: It occurs to me a few minutes after posting that Seinfeld may in fact be the more necessary reference here:

Written by gerrycanavan

October 7, 2007 at 12:41 am

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Apatow and Knocked Up

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Here’s a maybe unpopular opinion: We watched Knocked Up when it came out on DVD a few weeks ago and found it painfully, painfully unfunny—not really its politics, though those also bugged me a bit, but just the film itself. Joe Queenan (via MeFi) gets close to the reason why here but he doesn’t quite make it:

There is, of course, another way of looking at this subject: that the new genre of romantic comedies are not really upbeat, coming-of-age motion pictures about young male schmucks who are saved by the love of a good woman, but heart-rending tragedies about beautiful young women who are doomed to spend the rest of their lives with juvenile, not especially good-looking dorks.

Replace the fixation on hot/not-hot with a more holistic notion of general human potential and that’s pretty much where we stood with Knocked Up: for someone with so many choices to wind up stapled to such a go-nowhere loser with almost no redeeming qualities in pursuit of some entirely uncritical notion of what a “family” should be struck us as pretty close to deeply tragic, not to mention sentimentalist kitsch.

Okay, so maybe it is about the politics. Now I’m wondering if I should even bother giving Superbad a try, or for that matter finally bite the bullet and rent Freaks and Geeks, which I’ve been meaning to do for years.

Written by gerrycanavan

October 7, 2007 at 12:19 am

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