24 Hour Party People
LA Weekly columnist John Powers, Slate editor at large Jack Shafer, and Big Education bon vivant Comrade Reynolds say The Nation, and therefore the Left, is no fun. According to Reynolds, the Left has given itself over to "Andrea Dworkin's prudery," Shafer says it has become "an Amish wake featuring stern readings from the joyless work of Barbara Ehrenreich, the scoldings of Todd Gitlin, and the catechisms of Richard Goldstein," and Brooks decries The Nation's "drab covers [and] its pages choking with print."
Meanwhile, the Right is having a blast, these authors suggest, with Powers citing "Lee Atwater grooving to the blues" as evidence of the "big fun" that now characterizes Republican ideology.
Lee Atwater grooving to the blues? Honestly, I don't think an Amish wake has ever sounded so appealing...
Which is simply to say, in the same way that Christian rock can never really be rock, the Right can never really be fun. I mean, getting drunk and shooting guns is a start, but what about drugs, what about porn, what about violent TV shows?
And of course there's the problem of the specific incarnations of Left/Right fun-embodiment these authors invoke to prove their thesis. As a political/cultural force, isn't Andrea Dworkin actually deader than Lee Atwater? Do Powers, Shafer, and Comrade Reynolds really think the members of the Christian Coalition on Campus are having more fun than vegan BDSM freaks or the WTO puppet-people?
The most pressing issue, however, is how it's come to pass that "big fun" is somehow now the primary metric by which ostensibly serious thinkers measure the appeal of political ideologies and magazines.
Frankly, I think there's a place in the world for at least one or two publications that are, as Powers puts it, "choked with print." (It's interesting to note, too, that he leads off his article with the news that The Nation is "on a commercial roll," with its subscriptions rising and its always shaky finances substantially less shaky than usual. Like its apolitical, atextual near-opposite, Maxim, The Nation somehow seems to be finding an audience, even though its critics insist that it shouldn't be able to do so.)
As for political ideology, well, I guess I'm looking for one
that is just, pragmatic, inclusive, and flexible. That's a lot to deliver, I know, and that's
why, if either the Right or the Left were able to fulfill those criteria on a consistent basis,
I'd be happy to leave "big fun" out of the transaction entirely.
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