At the end of last year, Elizabethtown College hosted a travelling copy of Shakespeare's First Folio. Danny happens to be college buddies with the librarian who directed that project and is excited to welcome Josh Cohen to talk about it. What is the origin of this text? How did 82 copies come into the hands of Mr. Folger and end up in the Folger Library? How does capitalism and culture intersect in such cultural objects? Can Danny set aside his class envy long enough to appreciate the legacies of Robber Barons? Listen for this and a lot more.
Elizabethtown College Library website, with info about the tour.
Well it was an accident, but the Sectarian Review Podcast is timely for once. In a conversation recorded before Meryl Streep's controversial political speech at the Golden Globes, Danny picks the brain of Symptomatic Redness host C. Derick Varn. The first in an anticipated series of "celebritism" episodes, listen to find out why liberalism is drawn to celebrity spokespeople. What are the possibilies and problems of this kind of politics? What does the Democratic party (and liberalism as an idea) gain or lose by handing their rhetorical authority over to the rich and famous?
The Guardian on Celebrity as the face of a corporate machine.
"Bad Ways to Criticism Trump" via Current Affairs
And The New Republic (of course)
Q1: So everybody has a “theory of everything” that explains Trump’s election, which seems like a chasing after the wind to me. Today, I just want to focus on some of American Liberalism’s failings. Specifically, its tendency to defer its rhetorical work to celebrities, I can see the roots of this in Jane Fonda’s public opposition to Vietnam. Am I wrong to place so much of this on the New Left?
Q2: You shared an article from Current Affairs recently called “Bad Ways to Criticize Trump.” John Oliver was a specific target of that piece’s scorn. What is the essential problem with the “Daily Show-style” of politics?
Q3: In Liberalism, there seems to be a divide between believing and doing. The whole celebrity thing is a convenient way to rallying behind a belief that requires no action. It leads me to wonder what we even mean when we say “politics.” Is celebrity activism really politics or is it posturing?
Q4: So people flock to the music and movies that feature these celebrities, yet their ability to impact the voting habits of much of that fan base is uncertain at best. Why the disconnect between popularity and influence? Is the problem that these folks are “brands” and therefore necessarily limited in their ability to connect to the political lives of much of the electorate?
Q5: Much of this style of politics explains Hillary Clinton’s unexpected failing among the general electorate in certain states. However, weren’t many of Bernie Sanders’ supporters partaking in a similar type of hero-worship? And Trump himself of course is a reality TV star. Is the real question not whether celebrity politics is effective, but what type of celebrity politics we’re talking?