So my wife needed another box of small shells for a pasta salad this weekend, and I was off to Wal Mart. Wal Mart is a dicey enough locale on a Saturday night, the one nearest my house having been the scene of a horrific group beating a couple of years back, but this time I was accosted not by violent thugs, but by an ancillary hanger-on whose marketing endorses that culture.
As soon as I got out of the car, a kid standing around in the parking lot called out to me, “Hey, sir! You need an Obama shirt?” Besides the interesting salutation (“Hey, sir”? Well, at least he tried…), my attention was caught by the two shirts he was holding up in his hands: each had a large image of Obama on it, but the pictures were made in the style of popular hip hop fashions now; they were outlines decorated with gold glitter and were depicted in a graffiti-style. You see these kinds of shirts a lot with rappers or Scarface or cartoon characters on them.
I said, “No, thank you,” and, as I walked on, I couldn’t quite make out what he muttered after me. Something about voting for McCain. The tone was very derogatory. So much for not burning bridges with potential customers!
But the real significance of this encounter didn’t hit me until later. Intentionally or not, Obama has become not just a powerful symbol for race, but for youth-oriented media culture in general. He may be a perfectly fine person himself (though his policies are undeniably socialist and ineffective), but his success has clearly spurred on the reactionary, hedonistic, entitlement-minded masses of America who are deeply in thrall to the youth media culture.
And when Obama wins–which he will–the formerly illicit, formerly stigmatized, formerly marginalized subcultures of this country, all of whom identify with Obama (perhaps inaccurately) as “one of their own,” will feel vindicated, and dominate the public stage in this country to a degree that 60’s radicals never dreamed possible. It will be the last nail in the coffin of traditional American society and, for a renewal of the work ethic and morality that built our civilization, may well mark the point of no return.
If we haven’t reached it already.