Well, it seems we are obsessed with Obama here at E!! today - so let us finish it out in grand style. See this Corner post by Victor Davis Hanson for his thoughts on the Obama Phenomena. Says Hanson:
What is fascinating about the tingly-leg press is that they are exhibiting the very symptoms of arrested development and star-struck immaturity that they always accuse American in tot of suffering. The usual critique of the elite media is that we are a nation of mindless followers, who go from one fad to another, and value looks, youth, and pizzazz over substance.
But the current spectacle suggests something worse – that the press who claims they know better and are more sophisticated are, in fact, far more infantile than most Americans, and essentially Access Hollywood, People Magazine, and the National Enquirer dressed up with network logos and NY-DC bylines.
Hanson’s post is called “A Somewhat Embarrassing Spectacle” and as I was reading it another title crossed my mind: “The Society of the Spectacle” by Marxist theorist Guy Debord. A philosophy and critical theory text that provides a reading and reinterpretation of Marx’s work including examination of the commodity of fetishism and its application to modern mass media, Debord’s book reminds me of this whole Obama phenom in this way:
Commodity fetishism is the belief that commodities (like gold, or private property) have inherent value rather than value added to them by and through labor. The concept is at the root of Marx’s criticisms of capitalism because (Marx thought) a society that values commodities in and of themselves, absent the effects of labor, is bound to separate the “use-value” from the “exchange-value” of things such that it finds itself over-valuing essentially useless commodities while vastly under-valuing the commodity of human work.
Whatever you think of this theory, it occurs to me that Marx would find the commoditization of Obama himself unique in both society and history. Here we have not gold or land but a man who possesses great “exchange value” (he may replace our President) because the starry-eyed admirers of his sparkly personage have deemed him precious despite his lack of discernable labor-value (i.e. measurable or tangible achievements upon which we could base his merit). Obama vacuity matters not a whit; at present he is a national treasure.