While channel surfing the other night, I caught a minute or two of an interview on Rock Center with a woman who, as a 19-year-old white house intern in the early 60s, became one of JFK’s sex toys for a while. The segment was prefaced with a warning from news mannequin Brian Williams to the effect that the story we’re about to hear may be shocking to some viewers (presumably those who still believe in the Camelot fairy tale). (By the way, how many hours did Brian Williams have to practice that earnest frown before it was ready for prime time?) I had next to no interest in hearing an older woman’s rueful recollections of being boned by the man whose most noteworthy accomplishment as president was fucking lots of women–well, that and getting his head blown off–so I kept going, returning a few minutes later, just as Chris Matthews and two other court historians appeared like the cleaning service hired by the local peep show joint to mop all the sticky shit off the floor. They reassured us that while this may have been a tawdry affair, JFK was a complicated man and it shouldn’t tarnish all of the good things he did as president (like make some vague gestures towards civil rights legislation and…some other stuff). In other words, we should continue to think about JFK the way we’ve always been told to think about JFK.
Superbowl Sunday, the High Holy Day of our de facto state religion, has become such a brobdingnagian spectacle of militarist self-worship that Leni Riefenstahl would probably find the proceedings a bit excessive. The Caligulan feast in Dallas did offer one small source of consolation: Contrary to what compulsive mosque-baiters would have us believe, the culture on display is not haunted by the specter of impending Sharia rule.
I had a similar thought while watching the pregame show, although I probably would have gone with Kim Jong-il instead of the Nazis. But no matter—gaudy displays of militarism and paeans to the dear leader (or, in our case, leaders) are all more or less the same anyway.
My favorite part was the tribute to the glories of the US Government narrated by Michael Douglas. Images of past emperors—I mean, presidents—flitted across the screen, accompanied by references to their most famous speeches. “Where would we be if He hadn’t asked us what we can do for our country,” said one of those supposed America-haters from Hollywood.
I almost spat out a mouthful of crab dip when I heard that one.
Let’s see, where would “we” be if JFK hadn’t made a bullshit speech 50 years ago? No doubt we’d all be dead, all 300,000,000 of us having long ago succumbed to collective inertia and self-neglect.