Saturday, June 11, 2011

Deciphering Sarah

"The Sarah Syndrome."

There’s a book “concept” but I’m not sure the book's worth writing. Well, I’m certain it’s “worth” writing. It would sell hundreds of thousands of copies. Maybe millions.

What is it about Sarah Palin? What is it about us, as a nation and as a culture that makes all things Sarah so intriguing?

When she first emerged nationally as John McCain’s vice presidential choice (giving new meaning to the term “femme fatale”), I wrote a little essay here about her glasses, noting that Sarah punctured the quip (attributed to Dorothy Parker) that “men don’t make passes at women who wear glasses.”

Sarah’s glasses, essential to her trademark looks, invite us to ponder and linger over Sarah — imagining her sans specs. They are, in a way, a visual come-on.

Tagged “sarah,” “palin,” “glasses,” the post attracted more hits than any I’d put up on this blog. (The only one that has beat it was the “Tipsy Beer Truck" post that gained near-mass popularity from someone’s link to it from a porno site.)

The fascination with Sarah’s glasses should be no surprise. Sarah is nothing if not visual. Face it, she’s the best looking national politician since John Kennedy. Eye candy. The smile, a faint deer in the head-lights look, the stray locks of hair, the lingering beauty pageant figure. No fool and surrounded by marketing experts, Sarah is a package.

Content? You betcha! Here it gets interesting. Start with the verbal nuggets. Is there gold or fools gold in Sarah’s Alaskan e-mail lode? Mining for riches, hordes of journalists rush to Juneau.

On the national stage, Palin is a political high-wire act. We gasp at her wobbliness. We are astonished by her contortions to right herself. Paul Revere’s ride reconsidered, Russian policy shaped by staring across the Bering Strait, her avowed love of motorcycle emissions, a gaffe flipping of North and South Korea. The fractured English. A mouth disconnected from mind—at best. Joe Biden in drag.

The improbability of it all. Sarah Palin matches our own improbability as a nation and perhaps even as human beings. Somehow we survive on our own high wire. So far....Somehow we even thrive, as Sarah does. At least so far....

We’ve turned our own cartoonish ignorance and audacity into a strength, so far....

In her eyes, we see our own. There’s no there there, and yet...THERE it is! So far....

Sarah Palin, like us, is magical and frightening to behold. I think we call this entertainment. I often wish that the late Neil Postman (“Amusing Ourselves to Death”), who brilliantly analyzed mass media, were alive to decipher Sarah. Here is a pop figure seemingly created for a mass culture.

Visual, vulnerable, sexy, unpredictable, marketable, opportunistic, frightening, naive and earthy.

Oh, did I mention her family?....

Labels: , , , , ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home