Friday, April 13, 2012

Smart Folk Get Silly?

-- David Samuels has written a lot about rap music, including an often-anthologized piece from 1991 that argued suburban white teenagers made up much of its audience. So he's pretty smart and knowledgeable about the form, which makes me wonder why on Earth he thought it would be a good idea to write an article for The Atlantic that called Kanye West an "American Mozart."

Mr. Samuels spends his first 500 words name-dropping President Obama and discussing how he asked the president whether he preferred West or another hip-hop superstar, Jay-Z. Then he forges on to call West a "Mozart of American music" before leaving that label alone in the square, wondering where its argument, evidence and supporting ideas have got to. He may mean that in the same way Mozart was considered a kind of clownish character whose music was made with ordinary folks in mind, West has gathered up his share of dislike as well. But Mozart made fart jokes and West boorishly bullied Taylor Swift and shamefully claimed during a fundraising telethon for victims of Hurricane Katrina then-President Bush didn't care about black people.

Mr. Samuels is way smarter than I am and an excellent writer, but writing a piece about Kanye West that claims he's an "American Mozart" invites ridicule like an 80-pound 7th grader with tape on his glasses invites the school bully to take the $20 bill he's waving around.

-- Hilary Rosen has a long history of working hard on behalf of different clients. She was the Recording Industry Association of American president when the RIAA sued Napster and other file-sharing services that allowed people to trade music online without paying for it. She pushed for strict digital-rights management on CDs and other media which were rejected by consumers.

She's also worked for a PR firm British Petroleum hired a couple of years ago during its Deepwater Horizon debacle, a choice that got her dropped from her role as Washington Editor at Large for The Huffington Post when HuffPo folks wondered what kind of editorial decisions she might be making while taking BP green. She works for another company now.

In other words, Ms. Rosen is a political strategist whose main job is to make sure that people who hire her say things that either help them with the public or at the very least don't hurt them. I don't know how much work she'll get in the next few months after deciding to say that Ann Romney, wife of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, "never worked a day in her life." That's Ann Romney, who bore and raised five boys between 1970 and 1981. Ann Romney, who finished her undergraduate degree while raising two young boys and graduated just before having her third. Ann Romney, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1998. Ann Romney, who underwent surgery for breast cancer in 2008.

I think many candidates will believe they can shoot themselves in the foot for much less money than it would cost to have Ms. Rosen do it for them.

No comments: