Humorist Dave Barry And His TSA Pat-Down … Host Melissa Block talks to writer Dave Barry about his unpleasant airport experience under the new security system that examines passengers electronically. He was singled out for a pat-down after authorities told him he had a "blurry groin" — meaning the detector was unable to get a clear picture of his body. MELISSA BLOCK, host: Last week, he went through a TSA full-body scanner. What the screeners saw, they did not like. And Dave Barry, you have discovered that you are suffering from a rare disorder. What exactly is that disorder? Mr. DAVE BARRY (Humorist): They told me I have a blurred groin. – National Public Radio
Dominant Social Theme: Authoritarianism is a funny thing. We can see the humor, generally.
Free-Market Analysis: We have charted in the past the implosion of art as it relates to real life. One can say that art-as-abstraction is the result of photography, but how, then, does one explain the lack of realistic photography in public places? Instead one finds abstract sculpture, usually the bigger the better. The same observations can be made when it comes to humor and its relationship to life in the 21st century. This NPR interview with Dave Barry, excerpted above, deals with a pre-airflight patdown he underwent because the "detector" could not properly discern his full figure. The dominant social theme is obvious; the idea is apparently to defuse worry about America's growing fascism by making gentle fun of it, and thus remove the larger threat posed to what is left of American freedoms.
In this article, then, we will attempt to analyze, briefly, the way money power, like a gigantic vacuum cleaner, has sucked the political context out of art and made most forms of commentary decorative rather than confrontational (in a good sense). The Dave Barry article, above, is just one of literally millions of examples. However, we believe the 21st century may see a reversal of this trend.
As we have mentioned before, in aggregate, the trend toward a certain kind of sociopolitical passivity has come to be known by the nomenclature "politically correct." The canon of what is politically correct constitutes (in our view) that which does not challenge the command-and-control formulations of the Anglo-American power elite. It is the elite with its insane goal of world government that has infiltrated society with a variety of memes that tear down the family and build-up the state. Therefore anything that creates cultural confusion and social dissent is welcome and anyone who seeks to challenge these progressive themes can be characterized as racist.
It is also politically correct to be pro-government and to approve the use of force to further the authoritarianism of the state (and therefore the goal of global government). Survey humorous commentary in the US, Britain and generally in the West, and one has to be struck by its general inoffensiveness – or at least unwillingness to directly criticize the powers-that-be on society's fundamental makeup. Even during the mid-20th century's radical heyday, most writers and comedians subscribed to a vaguely socialist or even Marxist outlook when it came to the fundamentals of sociopolitical organization. The impulse was "epater la bourgeoisie," via various observations that shocked social mores. Thus those who wanted to make an impact – Lenny Bruce and George Carlin come to mind – did so by making frank (and often funny) references to cultural taboos involving sex, drinking, drugs, etc.
During the 20th century, self-censorship operated in two ways, via comission and omission. Hollywood's regular attacks on multi-national corporations and business generally was a form of comission, in which the market itself was cast as the "bad guy." Omission was a more subtle form of the process; we can see it operating in other areas of the arts, especially in the non-verbal art forms such as dance, ballet, painting and sculpture. In the past 100 years, each of these art forms in our view has grown increasingly removed from any specific commentary on society's fundamental organization and operations. It is a gradual evolution but certainly a notable one.
Of course if one subscribes (as we do) to the idea of an Anglo-American power elite that uses its tremendous, familial banking wealth to move society toward one-world government, then the evolution we are observing makes a good deal of sense. Money power makes all the difference; it provides a formidable incentive for self-censorship. Money determines fashion; wealthy donors fund museums and theatres that make "gate-keeper" decisions. Purchase art and then designate its repurchase and in this way "taste" can be molded, remolded and established for the duration. The subtlety of money power – as brutal as it can be – is wondrous to behold. Endow a "modern dance" troop, ensure its engagements in powerful cultural centers and provide mainstream reviews and reviewers that offer approbation and gradually cultural perceptions evolve. What was resisted in one generation is welcomed in the next.
The beauty of money power is that once a theme, trend or cultural direction is set into place, it tends to propagate on its own. Only a relative few gatekeepers are needed. Establish a trend and the mimetic elements of human behavior take over. People are inevitably tribal. It is a survival instinct and a success-instinct. One sees what is successful and wishes to emulate it. Within this context almost anything can be nurtured. It is how one travels from Da Vinci and Mona Lisa to Damien Hirst and his embalmed animal parts. Tap the right trend-setters, generate enough media control to saturate the public with the proposition and sooner or later the message, no matter how perverse or unexpected, will gain popularity.
In the 20th century, art and commentary were increasingly delinked from substantive criticism of society's fundamental organizational memes. One could make endless humorous comments about copulation but central banking received little or no attention. One could create endless modern dances on a variety of themes, but politics was not among them. Even literature was not immune. It is interesting to watch the decline of polity in the novel during the past 150 years: Victor Hugo, Charles Dickens, John Steinbeck and Upton Sinclair stand at the far end – John Updike, Philip Roth and Saul Bellow stand nearer to us. Dickens wrote about the poorhouse; Roth wrote about sex.
Now we are not prudes here at the Daily Bell. We make no qualitative judgments when it comes Dickens versus Roth – who wrote about sex metaphorically and with larger meaning. Nor have we intended this modest article to be a criticism of even so inoffensive a humorist as Dave Barry. What we have wanted to make clear is that the 20th century artistic conversation was gradually drained of political context (certainly free-market commentary) and we tend to believe it was no accident.
The most obvious examples of course reside in the media, which throughout the 20th century was content, increasingly, to cover crimes, lawmaking and political and economic trends rather than fundamental decision-makers operating behind the scenes. There were perhaps billions of mainstream media stories about "celebrities" and movie-stars in the 20th century, but progressively less and less was written about central bankers and the world's wealthiest businessmen and dynastic families. In the 21st century, with the advent of the Mises Institute and numerous other conservative and libertarian blogs and bloggers, the context of the conversation has radically shifted and the mainstream media has had a great deal of difficulty keeping up.
In conclusion, we wish to return to our Gutenberg / Internet paradigm. Radical new communication technologies, in our view, do make a difference by shattering the chrysalis of whatever politically correct thinking is dominant during a particular age. We would urge people to look on the Internet and especially on Youtube.com for examples of what is beginning to occur now. There are plenty of signs of an emergent commentary (especially in humor and music) within a free-market context. From our point of view, it validates not only the arguments we have made above, but the larger argument about the Internet versus the power elite. The conversation is changing; the narrative is shifting; engagement is commencing. The 'Net has spawned an alternative, free-market oriented news media. It may well generate new kinds of Art.