Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Meta-Ur Than He Oughta Be

Julian Sanchez, guy with a fancier blog then mine, says that Sam Wurzelbacher (nom de plume: Joe-the-Plumber) is a "metapundit" because:

"The last semblance of a link between the message and the identity of the messenger finally drops out completely: Joe’s entire significance lies in the decision to give him a microphone—and to give him a microphone not despite the fact that he’s not especially worth listening to, but because he’s not especially worth listening to. In that sense, he comes pretty close to the Platonic ideal of the “celebrity” as someone who’s “famous for being famous”: His stardom in the conservative movement is, paradoxically, its own lone rationale. Conservatives, self-declared foes of postmodernism, have finally produced the ultimate postmodern icon."

If you've ever majored in English you've heard all about metaness. Metaness often means something like self-referentiality, but more pretentious. Wurzelbacher is a higher level pundit, because he's the "Platonic ideal" of a pundit with none of the lower level qualities that would cause someone to be defined as a pundit. The idea of a metapundit is confusing, however, because I'm not aware of any qualifications necessary to become a pundit. According to a Wikipedia user's copy-and-paste of the OED, "The term originates from the Sanskrit term paṇḍitá (India), meaning learned. It refers to someone who is erudite in various subjects and who conducts religious ceremonies and offers counsel to the king or mayor." Nowadays it means some asshole on TV.

Little Earl and I, as fellow English majors, have a long ridiculed post-modern criticism. Meta-narratives became new and special in the academic world 40 years ago in spite of the fact that Laurence Stern's Tristram Shandy, written 250 years ago, is weirder and more meta than 99% of literature written since. So I don't care about Wurzelbacher's metapunditry. What I do care about is his extreme luck. How do I get to be the liberal version of this guy? I could be Yoggoth-the-lawyer or even just Yoggoth-the-liberal. Cable news programs would ask my opinion on topics I know nothing about. I'd get a free trip to Israel - no, I'd get paid to go to Israel! Well, I don't know if I really want to go to Israel. Bobby Jindal criticized funding for volcano research, how about I go to Hawaii to report on that?

In short, I don't have anything against Sam. I'm happy for him. The people who take him seriously are kinda dumb, but they were dumb before he came along. People want to hear what he has to say, they want to be around him, simply because he's some random guy. "You're random, we love you!" Isn't that the Cosmic American dream come true?

P.S. Sanchez really should have used the term Ur-pundit, it would have sounded cooler.


Peter Matthew Reed said...

While the right-wing ur-pundit is chronically uninformed, perhaps Jake-the-liberal-lawyer could be always looking something up on Wikipedia when he's on the network news. You wouldn't have to go anywhere - just read the discussion page about Israel! (I actually saw something similar to this on BBC News on the US '08 election night, where a correspondent read out blog posts - LIVE!.) I suppose he would also be uninformed.

Herr Zrbo said...

Hey English Major, learn the difference between 'then' and 'than'. Ooh, you just got burned!

All seriousness aside, I'm not even sure what to make of Joe-the-Plumber. I'm astounded people are still talking about him. I think we should get you some media time though yoggoth, I'd support your ur-punditry. You could be Yoggoth-the-Keith-Olbermann-loving-jewish-lawyer-ivory-tower-liberal! Take that Limbaugh.

yoggoth said...

Wait, are you saying I'm uninformed?

Did I mess up 'then' and 'than'? I hate it when people do that. It's almost as bad as picking the wrong there/their/they're. An admission: I am chronically adverse to editing my own writing. Reading something I've written is torture(for me only I hope).

Peter Matthew Reed said...

I am talking about a character, not Yoggoth. You can't possibly think I was referring to you Yoggoth, by using the entirely hypothetical name "Jake".

As to whether the networks would go for this new liberal ur-pundit, their just going to have to make there own decisions. They're, I said it.

yoggoth said...

Don't blow my cover, hypothetical person known as Peter Matthew Reed.