gether, like it or not, destroyed most of the eadier kinds of popularrnculture we had known, replacing these things with professionallyrncontrolled production and distribution of productsrnthat had only a shadowy relationship to original, authenticrnpopular and folk culture. I can well remember the first time—rnit was 1947, and I was living in Greenwich Village—that Irnheard the word authentic used in a purely pejorative sense.rnAnything authentic could be copied and, at the same time,rnsmoothed out and made slick. Things authentic were rawrnand rough-edged. The supermarket soon replaced the farmer’srnmarket and the family grocery store. Same thing in the culturernbusiness.rnThe second great force for change—more powerful in factrnthan technology; for the shopkeepers of culture; for these folks,rnthen and now, have been only casually interested in researchrnand development, letting others take the real risks of invention,rnjust as, in the artistic sense, the custodians of culture are not interestedrnin the real risks of creation; they hire and fire the creativerntypes—was the discovery that, under controlled conditions,rninordinate (not merely excessive, but simply incredible)rnprofits could be made. Here the risks were and are high. It isrna breathless gamble, a crapshoot; but enough huge fortunes arernmade to make the risks not wholly irrational. It really startedrnwith the movies and got well under way during the Depression.rnWhile the rest of the nation suffered, Hollywood made somernmoney. Not a whole lot, because these first-generation aliensrn(who might as well have been aliens from outer space for allrnthey knew or cared about things American, our cultural rootsrnor traditions) were not secure enough to wish to call too muchrnattention to themselves. That remained for the next generation.rnMeantime the I lollywood guys were on our side, more orrnless, during World War II. Partly because, with good reason,rnthey didn’t want the other side to win and partly because, win,rnlose, or draw, they didn’t want to get drafted. They turnedrntheir business into a war industry and cranked out propagandarnand entertainment, making some good money at the samerntime. It was here that the makers and purveyors of the newrnpopular culture realized the power of propaganda, covert as wellrnas explicit. And they have used their media for this purpose,rnwith many a hidden agenda ever since.rnThey were beginning to earn a portion of the one rewardrnthey really could not generate or control on their own—respectability.rnFor centuries, ever since the heyday of Rome,rnshow-business people had mostly and often legally been classifiedrnas standing well outside the normal hierarchies and patternsrnof society. Thev were, as the Elizabethans used to say,rn”masterless men.”rnOne thing they had done that, slowly but surely, changedrnthings in their favor was to create stars and the star system. Thernorigin was merchandising, but the concept took hold and soonrnenough meant more than an aid to large-scale buying andrnselling. Very soon in the game, given the right context, it becamernpossible to create stars possessed of very little, if any talent.rnSome had some talent, and some didn’t. Talent became,rnfinally, irrelevant to stardom. So, soon enough, didrnother factors like character and integrity. Soon enough thern”true” character of a star was irrelevant. This aspect of the starrnsystem has proved beneficial to the movers and shakers of thernbusiness who have never been noted for steding character or integrity.rnBy now the second and third generations have beenrnable to step forward and become public figures themselvesrnwithout risk or shame. Similarly, the star system has spread firstrnto all other shapes and forms of show business and entertainment,rnbut also into all other aspects of our lives, including politicsrnand the professions, all the arts and crafts.rnWe of my generation (born 1929), and the next two afterrnthat, have witnessed these things happening in our time, energizedrnby the demonic power of television, which was only veryrnbriefly a genuine competitor and soon developed as just anotherrnpart of the total package—movies, radio, television,rnrecords, publishing, sports, fashion, the news, all of them now,rnthanks to the fun and games of arbitrage and the irresistible impulserntoward mergers, joined together in an indissoluble multinationalrnmatrimony. What all this means (among otherrnthings) is that popular culture, in these last wild years of thisrnbloody and terrible century, is whatever they say it is, whateverrnchoices they choose to allow us to exercise. It means, too,rnthat the human-scale and communal pleasures of popular culturern—movies seen in a real picture palace, vaudeville shows,rnthe music hall, burlesque—are gone for good. Rock concertsrnand the like, loosely based on the May Day or Nuremberg rallies,rndon’t count, at least in the sense of offering the communalrnexperience. If you want to see where we have come, whatrnwe are up to, just consider the last couple of presidential inaugurations.rnWhat all this means is that it is no longer possible to avoidrnor escape the impact of the mass-produced popular culture.rnFor a very few people in my generation it was, strictly speaking,rnpossible to escape the experience. Not since then. There is nornplace on earth safely away from it. We cannot spare our childrenrnor grandchildren from its, at best, baleful influence.rnNot long ago, critic Lee Lescase, writing in the Wall Streetrnjournal, took serious note of some of the attitudes that linkrnshow business (I lollywood) with the government of our nation,rnhunkered down inside the Beltway: “In other words the imagernis more important than the reality. In fact there doesn’t havernto be any reality. In a life revolving around prime time, events,rneven events involving thousands of people, can be arrangedrnsolely for the cameras.” Really? Take today’s paper [WashingtonrnPost) for example. In the news section we have “As thernWodd Watches on TV, Lorena Bobbitt’s Trial Opens.” In thern”Style” section we learn that not many people, on the scene atrnleast, seem to be as interested as the reporters: “Because so fewrnmembers of the actual public turned out at the courthouse, thernhundreds of journalists were reduced to interviewing T-shirtrnhawkers ($20 for a ‘Love Hurts’ shirt autographed by JohnrnBobbitt, himself) . . . “rnYears ago, in the 1950’s, I worked for television as a writer forrna show that died in labor. My first day on the job the producerrntold me the score: “If you think television has anythingrnto do with art, you’re crazy. If you think it’s entertainment, yournare naive and misinformed. Television is purely and simply anrnadvertising medium [this long before the shopping network].rnYour job is purely and simply to write stuff to fill in the time andrnspace between the ads.” Years later I have to admit he spokernthe truth. During the 1960’s, and ever since, they took over thernnews and information services of television. Nothing hasrnchanged since then except that nobody even bothers to apologizernanymore for the wealth of misinformation and disinformationrnand nonsense they solemnly and relentlessly producernand present to us. No wonder that nothing can equal or evenrnapproach the contempt that the masters of popular culture feelrnfor the audience they routinely abuse.rn22/CHRONiCLESrnrnrn