The Worship of Selling

The Right is going all apoplectic over media adulation (and worship?) of the president. Frowns all around that nobody in the media never seemed to like their president. “Deranged in their hate” of Mr Bush is the repeated meme of resentment (yawn). This isn’t about politics, nor is it some new religion. Where the media is concerned, this is all about one golden calf: selling a product.

President Reagan was grandfatherly and personable, so even when his approval ratings circled the drain, he could charm with the best of them. So his brand was a value. His successor less so. President #42 a lot like Reagan, especially in the department of charm. Then you mix in the quality of comebackery–not unlike Martha Stewart or Robert Downey, Jr. The media loves a rags-to-riches-to-rags-and back to riches story. ADD sells. Really. It helps when a person is talented like Stewart or Downey or Clinton. Keep the stories (and the corporate sponsors) coming. That’s why there’s still hanging-on with Britney and Lindsay and Paris and maybe even Cheney. Far less talented people than the 90’s crash-and-burn phoenixes. But there’s always hope.

My take on the adulation for President Obama is that it will be with us as long as his approval ratings hold above 50. I’m not as bothered by the Anchoress that he’s been given minor deity status above Mr Bush. Mr Bush was no Ronald Reagan, and he simply didn’t have the talent, the advisers, or the luck to hold strong with 9/11. Heck, even entertainers Martha Stewart or Rush Limbaugh would have had high approval ratings post 9/11 with the right script. Mr Bush had the misfortune to circle the drain with the incompetents that rose to the top of the GOP.

As always, the problem is that real life sets in. Non-gods make mistakes. (And if one reads the Left, one will find many errors with roots in the current administration.) Athletes, movie stars, pop stars: they all are considered “gods.” John Lennon knew it. It’s no accident we call that show “American Idol.” If you check any mainstream journalism on sports, you’ll read it daily. Stars are no longer just stars: every star is a “superstar,” just like Jesus. They carry teams on their back (just like Atlas). They inspire adulation, graven images, Sunday devotion, and the extremes of emotion, high and low. Why? Because it sells shoes, beer, cars, video games, sex, and fantasy. Then somebody gets caught with dead dogs, a drug bust, or an embarassing discovery. A new calf must be found.

The Anchoress:

I do visit and occasionally link to left-wing blogs (and don’t indulge in mocking them for their opinions) I don’t know if you could fairly call me insulated. I suggest that Evans, and Matthews and their ilk have moved way beyond “adolescent indulgence” and into a sort of idol worship that is dangerous for the country.

I can’t disagree this is all quite cringeworthy. But it happens all the time. Mr Bush’s problem was that he lacked the ability to make a comeback. I suppose Katrina was his big opportunity. We had almost four years to prepare to secure the nation. But I don’t think the mainstream media is a danger to the country. Just put the golden calf image out of your head and think “It’s all about selling a product.” If someone better at selling comes along, the president will be in line for the smelter with all the rest of our idols.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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