Today, Americans subscribe to the idea that creating a book is, in and of itself, an intellectual accomplishment, regardless of the content and insights. Getting published and selling the requisite number of copies is the sole measure of literary success, whether the book is a policy analysis of the U.S. relationship with the family Saud or a romance novel of “Valley of the Dolls” genre. Next step on the celebratory ladder for media hookers is being featured as a host or regular commentator on the daily menu of political and fashion shows dictated by the corporate format designers to appeal to target audiences.
At its root, this all is a response to the daily need for food and shelter and the currency to buy such luxuries for survival. The relationship between pending deadlines and spontaneous creative writing needs to be explored before awarding a Pulitzer. The era where one or two great poems of social calls were labor enough for the intellectual elite has been overrun by the doctrine of “what have you done for me lately?” Talent is replaced by mere skill at turning a phrase for pay.
Membership in the elite society of employed opinion mongers is no longer exclusive, however, and the various applications of the Internet have opened the gates to the madding mob, allowing any and all to offer up their considered opinions, further diluting the wisdom of such communiqués.
One solution might lie in the expertise of authors with their chosen obsessions. If you are offering opinion on meatpacking it might clarify your argument by mentioning your membership in PETA or other animal rights groups. Spokes folks for the Correctional Officer’s Association might be more believable in their excuses for the institutionally cruel and unjust operations within our prisons and jails. It helps to know who’s telling the story before you decide whom to believe.
Barring such self-revelation by the perpetrators, we should recognize that the myth of objectivity no longer applies, and everyone has a bias that colors their work, leaving it up to us to sort out motives and meaning from the work product.
It’s hard to make a living without turning a trick every day.
“Travus T. Hipp” is a 40-year veteran radio commentator with six stations in California carrying his daily version of the news and opinions. “The Poor Hippy’s Paul Harvey,” Travus is a member of the Nevada Broadcasters Hall of Fame, but unemployable in the Silver State due to his eclectic political views. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.