The Boss Is At A Loss
“It goes without saying that the artists sympathized not with the actual working classes but with their own idea of the working classes,”
― Theodore Dalrymple, Our Future: What’s Left Of It
There was never a bigger fan of Bruce Springsteen. It was a revelation when The Wild, the Innocent and the E Street Shuffle first dropped on my turntable in 1974. Springsteen’s tales of Asbury Park’s street people, reprobates and the desperate ones breathed originality into a rock-and-roll form gone stale and self serious.
Authenticity fuels great art, and Springsteen’s songs transcended pop and became something more substantial. There was a humanity in his work. Those who’ve worked with Springsteen will tell you he takes this mission seriously and is sincere in his Woody Guthrie role.
So it was no surprise that the Boss moved into the political realm. Pretty soon he was shilling for Democrats like Bill Clinton during election campaigns. In his patented T shirt and jeans, he acts the radical minstrel. Needless to say he’s been a virulent critic of Donald Trump, lamenting the policies of the president as being harmful to the working guy and girl (http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/bruce-springsteen-calls-donald-trump-a-moron-w441761).
The problem with all this is that the people Springsteen thinks he’s still repping are the ones who put Trump in the White House. Ironically, Springsteen now sings for the monied liberal-guilt factions in entertainment and culture, not the Rust Belt worker or the coal miner or an Appalachian resident fighting a crystal meth addiction. Those are now Trump's people.
Springsteen’s songs portray Trump as a moron, not the man who captured a zeitgeist in America in 2016. His messages are tailored to the Bernie Sanders America of fevered left-wing aspiration. That’s why Bruce’s friends lost 1036 elected seats in Barack Obama’s eight years in the White House.
You can’t completely blame Springsteen. Fame is a terrible isolator. It’s hard to be self critical when everyone around you tells you you’re wonderful. Or to act the blue-collar guy when your daughter is an equestrian riding star. In fact, the liberal-guilt industry is fuelled by the isolation of its artistic and sports supporters.
They sing their songs and script their HBO shows behind the tall walls of self-censorship. When a Hollywood personality like Mark Ruffalo or Jane Fonda or… well, you know the names… buddies up with “Three Homes” Sanders, it’s so wooden it creaks. Out of touch is the polite way to express it.
Because they control highly visible media and academia they’ve overestimated their real impact. They channel spiritual counsellors like Canadian ex-pat Samantha Bee or John Oliver to keep the fire lit. Even when Trump makes it stunningly clear that they are preaching only to themselves, they persist in this virtue signalling.
SNL tells trust-fund grad students that white male culture is a malign element in culture. PBS panders to the gender-studies crowd with incessant docs about women’s suffrage. Bill Nye, the faux-science guy, extrapolates climate change into a gender-studies rant on Netflix. And Springsteen channels Joe Hill to the Silicon Valley crowd.
The impact of all of this is that I am unable now to listen to Born To Run or watch SNL (https://video.search.yahoo.com/yhs/search?fr=yhs-mozilla-001&hsimp=yhs-001&hspart=mozilla&p=snl+to+sir+with+love#id=1&vid=21a66ca8ddea346fb03743f5c7dc9766&action=click) or buy a ticket to a Meryl Streep movie. It’s impossible to separate the artist from the preening, hectoring political creature they’ve become. The joy in their work is now drowned by their condescension. (In truth I could do without Ted Nugent’s conservatism, too, but he’s an isolated figure.)
The signs are that my alienation is not unique. While there has not been a big dropoff reported in revenues for the cultural industry yet, the signs of disaffection are everywhere. Even at sports TV giant ESPN, pushback to their leftward political drift (naming Caitlyn Jenner Sportswoman of the Year) is showing. ESPN veteran Bob Ley summed it up this way, “We've done a great job of diversity. But the 1 place we have miles to go is diversity of thought”.
Legendary Twitter figure Iowahawk expressed consumers’ dissatisfaction as ESPN announced massive layoffs to answer huge subscriber losses being experienced over cord cutting. “David Burge @iowahawkblog Or maybe they prefer tractor pulls and Aussie Rules FB to jocksniffers pontificating on the microaggression du jour.”
But don’t expect ESPN or La Streep or The Boss to have a moment of revelation any time soon. In their righteousness they think everyone is still with them. As social critic Theodore Dalrymple notes, “The purpose of those who argue for cultural diversity is to impose ideological uniformity.”
Bruce Dowbiggin @dowbboy.is the host of the podcast The Full Count with Bruce Dowbiggin on anticanetwork.com. He’s also a regular contributor three-times-a-week to Sirius XM Canada Talks Ch. 167. A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada's top television sports broadcaster, he is also the best-selling author of seven books. His website is Not The Public Broadcaster (http://www.notthepublicbroadcaster.com)