Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like
You know who I wish was still around to comment on our political life?
I can only imagine the periodic YouTube videos Gore would be putting out, excoriating the Foul One in terms he probably wouldn’t even understand, they’d be so erudite. Trump would be left standing there with his own bag of skin heaped around his feet, and then he’d go on Twitter to tell us what a loser Vidal is.
It seems like we’ve lost that certain kind of cultural critic who was absolutely as smart as he/she told us he/she was. People like Vidal, Harold Bloom, Susan Sontag, Hannah Arendt. Hell, I’ll even throw in William F. Buckley.
Our thinkers and commentators in the 21st century have had to dumb it down quite a bit, mostly as a way to land gigs on cable news outlets. You can’t come off as too smart there. Maybe this is why we don’t see Noam Chomsky on MSNBC or Francis Fukuyama on Fox News. (I admit, I’m assuming Francis Fukuyama doesn’t appear on Fox News, but I can’t bear to tune in to find out.)
But Vidal had a way of being smart and entertaining, all the while wielding his cleverness like a razor-sharp épée. He could cut you to bits as he sat there with you on Merv Griffin or Dick Cavett, and a studio assistant would hand you a styptic pencil as you walked off the set.
And by the way, we used to have more intelligent talk show hosts too. Dick Cavett was one, and he too found a way to be smart and entertaining at the same time. Is this so hard? David Susskind didn’t try to be yuk-yuk entertaining but he always acted like his audience was intelligent. And the guests on shows like this used to be some of the best literary figures of the day. There were others like them. They got good ratings.
When was the last time a literary novelist was on Jimmy Kimmel?
All I’m yearning for, I guess, is for a mind like Gore Vidal’s to take some swipes at Trump and cut him down to size. His mind is small. Shouldn’t be a difficult task. The problem is, the culture has changed to a point where intelligence is seen as a drawback, and going hard at Trump from an intellectual position of superiority strikes today’s audiences as snobby and boring. And unfair.
Watch the clip of Vidal and Roy Cohn (whose name comes up a lot in the annals of our country’s deterioration—see Sarah Kendzior’s Hiding in Plain Sight, and read it too!).
I’d pick Gore’s team any day of the week.
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