Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Magic Ruralism (tm)

Noun: a literary or artistic genre in which realistic narrative and naturalistic technique are combined with surreal elements of political fantasy.

As I have mentioned before, the Beltway media's hot new genre is something I call Magic Ruralism.
...just as Thrilling Detective and Detective Fiction Weekly were in the business of cranking out hard-boiled crime genre fiction for the titillation of their readers, so have The New York Times and the Washington Post gone into the business of cranking out True Tales Of Rust-Belt Trump Murricans! for the titillation of their readers.
Of course, for those of us who actually live in Middle America and who have been actively yelling for decades about the monster factory the GOP has been building, this development is as pernicious as it was predictable.  Because rich city folks live a million social and economic miles from the actual Middle America and because their lives are substantially untouched in any material way by the Republican madness abroad in the land, they are free to savor hair-raising tales (from today's WaPo) --
White, and in the minority

She speaks English. Her co-workers don’t. Inside a rural chicken plant, whites struggle to fit in.
-- of rural Murrican pity and terror (from yesterday's NYT)  --
How to Talk to a Racist

White liberals, you’re doing it all wrong.
-- from a safe distance.

And when they tire of reading "Rubes along the Monongahela" or "The Economically Distressed Madmen of Mercer County" they can turn the page and wallow in the latest iteration David Brooks' ongoing opium dream of a Magical Both Siderist Third Party that will wipe every tear from their eyes and there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain and no more crazy socialist monsters getting any ideas about making college or health care more affordable and available by, say, raising Mr. Brooks' taxes (about which more later)
The Third-Party Option 
National politics needs a leader devoted to redistributing power downward.
Literary genres remain dynamic as long as there are enough people with enough money to make it viable for writers to till those fields.  Sometimes, as with detective or western or science fiction,  there is a readership which is large enough and dedicated enough to make the enterprise profitable, if marginal.  In other cases, such as Henry Ford's purchase of The Dearborn Independent , the "people with enough money" are nothing more than one asshole plutocrat who decided the best way to spread his noxious ideas was to buy a newspaper and peddle his propaganda as "journalism":
In 1918, Henry Ford purchased his hometown newspaper, The Dearborn Independent. A year and a half later, he began publishing a series of articles that claimed a vast Jewish conspiracy was infecting America. The series ran in the following 91 issues. Ford bound the articles into four volumes titled "The International Jew," and distributed half a million copies to his vast network of dealerships and subscribers. The rhetoric was not unusual for its content, as much as its scope. As one of the most famous men in America, Henry Ford legitimized ideas that otherwise may have been given little authority.
Magic Ruralism (tm) falls somewhere in the middle: a genre for which there is no native demand, invented by corporate media to push a specific ideological line, but jobbed out to ink-stained wretches in the same way golden age science fiction magazines would  hand out story assignments based on the cover art they were planning on using in upcoming issues (no actual footage available, but I always liked this episode of Deep Space Nine very much, so here you go)

Behold, a Tip Jar!

1 comment:

Marc McKenzie said...

Thanks for this.

And thank you for this clip. It's my favorite episode of DS9, and perhaps one of the best episodes of all the STAR TREK shows, period.

It meant a lot to me then, and still does today.