Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Well, this ought to put to rest the charges of "AWOL" and "deserter" that have been flung at George Bush. Turns out he did his time in the Air National Guard for six years as he was supposed to have done. It looks like what he did during the last two years of his National Guard service was to pile up a bunch of service days during a couple of months, in order to fulfill his requirements, and then take a couple of months off.

This always leads to the question "What would you have done?" I guess my attitude is if they draft me, I'll go, but I have no plans to volunteer. If I were drafted, I'd try to get myself into a job where I didn't have much chance of getting shot, which I imagine I could do (useful analytical and language skills, age 37, bad knees--not your ideal front-line soldier.) Well, that's what Bush did. He got a place in the Air National Guard, which is not actually quite as cushy as it sounds because your chances of being killed in flight training were a hell of a lot higher than your chances of being shot down over North Vietnam. Also, your unit could be called up at any time, of course. However, Bush did stay a long away from the fighting.

The thing to remember is that Air National Guard units are / were almost always designed to be home defense units to fight the Russians; i.e. the purpose of the fighter pilots in the Guard is to scramble when we find out the Russkies are on the way. They weren't designed to do, say, combat air support in Vietnam.

Politically, this is both good and bad for Bush. It's good because he's been vindicated, and it's good because it makes Kerry look like the bad guy for going negative. Bush can now slam the hell out of Kerry for the major no-no of questioning Bush's patriotism. It's bad, though, because Kerry (or his campaign) has linked the world "Bush" and "deserter" in people's minds, and no matter how many times the story is debunked some people will still believe it. In fact, probably debunking it only this once is proably the best policy.

Whatever, this will have all been forgotten about come November.

The Vangua came out with its first piece saying, literally, "A new wave of puritanism is sweeping across the United States", because of the Janet Jackson breast thing.

Now, come, come. Lemme see if I can explain this. There are three groups of American pop-culture consumers: the Hopelessly Square, who listen to Kenny G and travel to Branson, Missouri, and wear loud golf clothes; the Middle of the Road, who pretty much swallow whatever kind of pop culture the media is plugging; and the Trendy Hipsters.

The Hopelessly Square were those who were offended by Janet Jackson's boob. Hopelessly Square people avoid R-rated movies and nasty rap and heavy metal music and cable TV except for the Jerry Falwell channel. As for the Middle of the Road, they're the people who actually are fans of Janet Jackson. They have cable and go to R movies and listen to gangsta rap. They weren't shocked by Janet's boob. The Trendy Hipsters are unshockable. Maybe if you did some coprophagia or necrophilia on TV they might be shocked. Like say if Janet and Michael got it on in the middle of the football field. Probably most of them would call it "breakthrough" and "iconoclastic" and "avant-garde", though.

Here's the thing about sports: it's a market that isn't segmented. Movies and music are segmented. You don't market a Tarantino or a Neil LaBute movie to everybody, for example, But the NFL is trying to market its product to every single person in America. So what they don't want to do is anger the Hopelessly Square, because those people make up a quarter or a third of football watchers.

The Super Bowl doesn't need showbiz personalities to attract fans; it's already got lots of fans in all three groups of Americans. What it needs to do is program its halftime entertainment in the good old square way--that is, bring out the marching bands, cheerleaders, and Punt, Pass, and Kick kids. Or have an old-timers flag football game. That's what we had traditionally at football games. The Squares would love it. The MORs will swallow whatever you give them, and the Trendies will make a virtue out of the "authenticity" of the new old halftime activities. Trendies are nostalgic for what's "real" and "old-time traditional".

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