Monday, April 30, 2012
It's all in good fun I suppose but I can't be the only person who finds it dismaying. Various celebrities and the DC political elite gather to beam at each other, tell a few jokes and bask in the glow of each other's fame. Meanwhile, money is raised for some good cause or other, an afterthought. Who are these people? Ephemeral (one devoutly hopes) celebrities who've made pots of money starring in stuff you are embarrassed to watch along with politicians the best of whom one thinks of as rather parasitical. If you have any little-r republican in you, it's got to make you a little ill. Edith Wharton's New York City certainly had displays of collective opulence and exclusivity but there what was celebrated was wealth and family and how the two went well together. An aristocracy that at least built things. The Olympics has sport and all that goes into it. Then you have politicians and entertainment industry folks. Which is more revolting? Illogical or not, one knows each is worse than the other.
The correspondents dinner to me is about how much influence the entertainment industry now has over how we are governed. How did that happen? The strange creatures that crawl to the top of the poisonous ecosystem of Hollywood, itself an accident of history and technology, have the piles of cash politicians are grateful to sell themselves for, because humans, fallen creatures that we are, have an insatiable appetite for sex, violence and fantasy. I'm no better than the rest. Put me in a room with a case of Stone Pale Ale and a DVD of The Wild Bunch and I'm good for days. So we get governed in no small part by street-smart but principles-stupid people who are rich because of perfect voices or perfect breasts, the weird ability to pretend to be somebody they're not, advancedly depraved tastes, and/or especially acute commercial and predatory instincts. The Federalist Papers, it ain't. They could not have foreseen how in the future people would spend hours every day and thousands of dollars watching screens, dreaming.