So, we got rid of the monkey, and now it’s time for the organ-grinder. Everyone is assessing Mr. Obama, particularly now that he’s actually done some stuff (and so far it looks positive). And there’s that speech; I mean, wow.

Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some […]

For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life. For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth. For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sanh.

We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology’s wonders to raise health care’s quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories.

And I could go on, but I won’t. On reflection I have decided I will respond to Obama’s Presidency, and his inauguration address, in 94 days. Once there, I’ll take apart the first 100 days and the speech side by side, and let them provide each other’s commentary.

What I want to talk about right now is the Kids Inaugural Ball. As far as I can tell, this is a brand new idea: I can find no reference to previous ones, and in the commentary climate of Washington, had there been any I’m sure someone would have written an article saying why Obama’s wasn’t as good (or was better). The list of performers is significant: the Jonas Brothers, Miley Cyrus, and Demi Lovato top the bill. These kids, who between them represent a very considerable chunk of money, are the poster children for the American Dream as far as the next generation are concerned. The Jonas Brothers, apart from representing an unfeasible ROI for their label, are also famous for using the platform their musical success provides to push their own religious agendas. Miley Cyrus is at 16 considered one of the most influential people in the world. These are big names, and they’re very young.

There’s two things I see coming out of this. Firstly, the purchasing power, either direct or via the Nag Factor, of the age group 12-16 in America (and therefore, to global business) is immense, and specifically is considerably larger than when I was growing up. Anyone who was watching in the 90s noticed that the immense financial success of boy- and girl-bands is almost entirely an artefact of the purchasing power, and thereby the celebrity trend-setting power, of the under-16s. Now it’s much worse: they’re deliberately creating under-age celebrities. Child-stars, but with a difference; these kids get taken seriously in ways Judy Sodding Garland never was.

This is significant because we no longer teach children that age to understand the concept of abstract social responsibility. This in turn means that the audiences will respond to the opinions of these children on the stage as if they were fully developed adults, because they are famous. Mom and Dad get their opinions from people they see on TV: now I’ve got my own people I can see on TV to get my opinions from. And that’s dangerous because the kids on stage cannot be held accountable for the social damage their opinions, actions or marketing cause. Their target audience are the most impressionable, and the least rational, in the world and they’re also the people who will decide the elections in 12 years.

Most of the agendas aren’t the opinions of the child stars: they’re the opinions of their responsible adults/managers, as with the Jonas brothers being made poster-children for the Religious Right, or the ‘mormon anti-sex propaganda’ (Twilight) stars. The risk with making children figure-heads for controversial opinions is that it gives the people who actualy drive the social agenda someone to hide behind: someone you can’t, and should not, attack.

The other significant thing here is that the Obama campaign are noted for their ability to see, and to mobilise, the political effectiveness of the young. The internet generation gave the richest campaign in US election history the added bonus of six to twelve million volunteers. The election can be seen as representing the first post-Cold-War electoral triumph; one in which the thought-patterns of the Information Age finally managed to win over the thought-patterns of the Imperial Age.

I therefore can’t help but notice that it’s these guys who’ve come up with a Children’s Inaugural. These are people commited to waking up the youth of America to political reality, political awareness and political power. People whose process story for this week has been about their President refusing to relinquish his Blackberry. People who think ahead.

The kids at this ball, who’re hearing the political speeches, who’re hearing about how the economic stimulus package will specifically affect them: they are the demographic which Miley Cyrus and the Jonas Brothers both target. The massive media engine surrounding these manufactured pop acts is aimed squarely at these 12-year-olds.

Some of the oldest of the kids at that ball might vote in the next election, or the one after. Statistics suggest they’ll probably become a force twelve to sixteen years down the line, but it’s possible they’ll beat that. Either way, at last the American left wing has come up with political operators capable of taking a long view. The only other people in America who’re really putting the Jesuit meme into practice are the Dominionists, and they scare me.



Filed under Content, Signal

2 responses to “Balls

  1. pennyred

    Very good post. So, do you reckon Obama’s people are moving towards lowering the voting age? To me this looks like the logical next step….

    • johnqpublican

      Effectively, they already did. Not in terms of statute, but in terms of average age; they won, in part due to moving the lower end of the significant voting demographic from 30 to 20. I suspect that they will be quite happy if they can just keep that existing power base engaged; keep them volunteering, keep them arguing, keep them caring. There are interesting possibilities to lowering the voting age; if nothing else, it would probably materially affect elections by making green, environmental and future-based decisions much more significant.

      People under 18 who have access to education, in the West, seem to me overwhelmingly inclined to be future-conscious and to be interested in environmental politics. There are also risks to the idea; for example, 2nd-generation immigrants children may well not be conditioned to democratic principles. One axiom of western democracy is the concept of the ‘informed populace’ (and yes, I know, I know): would enough of the 12-18s be willing and able to make themselves informed? Kids get their heads stuffed every day. There’s also the serious risk of vote coercion: if the Bible Belt’s 12-18s could vote, regardless of the kid’s actual opinions, the parents would have every one of them voting Republican or they’d bloody well get it when they got home.