Saturday, February 28, 2009

Why pop culture matters so much: example 3,274:

I see Rush Limbaugh quoted on the Web tonight by CNN as saying:

"We conservatives have not done a good enough job of just laying out basically who we are because we make the mistake of assuming that people know. What they know is largely incorrect, based on the way we're portrayed in pop culture, in the drive-by media, by the Democrat party.''

He has this much right for sure -- pop culture's influence is just that strong.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Comic books and the national mess

What do we know about the country's economic biliousness? That greed played a huge part. That politics played some part. And that basic incompetence remains a force to be reckoned with, even in an age when cynicism should have taught us to doubt the credentials of anyone claiming special expertise. In anything.

We go to people for an array of services we can't provide for ourselves, short of becoming contemporary financial and technological da Vincis. And to our repeated horror -- as well as uncomfortably belatedly in too many cases -- we discover there's no real buffer between the illusion of proficiency and bona fide knowledge and skill. Pick any profession, in fact, and so it goes.

People were chasing pots of gold in the financial scrums and also barely understood the paperwork they were shuffling. The clueless hired the foolish who honored the fakers. Corruption just added the rhinestones to the whole cheap fabric.

This all makes me think of comic books. Of all the self-destructive industries I covered as a reporter, the comics biz was always the most consistently suicidal. Here was this marvelously American font of both accessible and inspired art and storytelling, but it never failed to waste an opportunity.

We've arrived at a peak moment for the comics culture, thanks to two sensational movies, "The Dark Knight" and "Iron Man." And what did DC Comics just wrap up? A big-event tale, "Final Crisis,'' that showcased its iconic characters and was unreadable. It wobbled from incoherent to arcane and back to incoherent. How about that for blowing an opportunity? How about that for putting another impediment in the way of people reading things?

I can understand how "Final Crisis" got made. I can understand how the writing and editing process went off the rails (been there, seen that). I just can't understand how it got published. Or perhaps, as I look around at the state of American know-how, maybe I can.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Another blog?

As a pop culture fan, I can't find the kind of commentary and discussion I'm hungry for -- not for video games, not for comic books, not for TV, not for DVDs, not for gadgets . . . and so on. There's a lot of it out there, but it tends to come up short on journalistic cred and fundamental civility. I've had some experience trying to blog without those failings (see About Me) and without being a doddering snooze. Gonna try again, starting now.

I'm sure I'll be tempted at times to become one of the many new media pundits whose punditry is about the troubled world of media. Enough ex-newspaper types are doing that, and some quite well, actually. I'll force myself to abstain.

For me, it will be enough to stick to Batman and the Watchmen, to "Scrubs" and "Hell's Kitchen,'' to the Wii and PlayStation 3. Next post: a few words about DC Comics' "Final Crisis."