Sunday, September 30, 2007
Look what they've done to my song, Ma.
Look what they've done to my brain, ma
Look what they've done to my brain
Well they picked it like a chicken bone
And I think I'm half insane, ma
Look what they've done to my song.
I wish I could find a good book to live in
Wish I could find a good book
Well if I could find a real good book
I'd never have to come out and look
Look what they've done to my song.
Ok, this is going to discursive at its best, with connections and leaps aplenty, so fasten your seatbelts and hold on tight.
I am not a sports fan. Perhaps the only male in America who isn't. This time of year, when baseball starts its month-long crescendo, I wonder why. Today, I believe, I figured it out. The brand that sports used to maintain (its immaterial whether or not this brand was based on mythology or not) lied to me. Maybe they started lying when baseball went on strike and because of circumstances, the team with the best record in the majors that year didn't even make the playoffs. Maybe I'd been lied to too often when I discovered that the greatest player of my generation bet on his team to lose. Maybe I finally had too much when what had been sold to me as a contest of athleticism and level-playing fields became one of amphetamines, steroids, god-knows what else and rapacious owners who flouted their wealth in order to acquire "winning," as if winning is something that can be bought, like virtue and integrity and courage.
Whatever, call me deluded, I feel today that the sports brands have lied to me. And as I don't wish to associate with liars, I no longer associate with sports--especially big-time college athletics which is the biggest sporting lie we have.
But there is a larger point to leap into, and leap I must. What about Brand America? Has it broken so many promises to the world that a change in administration cannot heal it? Admittedly, despite the greatest income disparity in our history, I will concede that there is an economic pull that draws people to this country. But what about the mythic side to the American brand? Has that been destroyed completely? I am not anti-American, I am attempting to look at this with dispassion, but hearing Robert Mugabe undress Bush and America in front of the UN, and agreeing with him is quite disturbing.
In today's NYTimes (have you heard of it?) Thomas Friedman re-writes a bit of Emma Lazurus: “Give me your tired, your poor and your fingerprints.”
We've undone Habeas Corpus and the sanctity of human rights. We've destroyed the ozone layer. We've invaded countries and used uranium depleted weapons to kill them and their earth. We've tortured and ignored international law. Is this America? Are these behaviors on brand?
The deeper point here is that I am not trying to be political. I am trying to discuss America the brand and what is on-brand and what is off-brand behavior. Naturally, no brand is always on brand. As we've noted in the blog, even Apple stumbles. America is no different, I suppose. What remains to be seen is if any of those midgets running for president can say, "we've erred. And my job over the next four years is to fix our brand." Just before he was killed Lincoln called America "the last, best hope for Earth." Maybe I believed in that like I used to believe in the beauty and truth of Sports and Mickey Mantle's muscles. Maybe my belief in the verity of Lincoln's line is nothing more than the delusion of an infatuate. I hope not. I'd like this brand to come back.
Posted by george tannenbaum at 6:13 PM