Notes from the Perimeter

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Trans-International Institute for the Advanced Study of Blogography Welcomes YOU


A couple of weeks ago I was trawling through the channels when I happened upon an entertainment show – The Insider, ET – one of those. Normally I’d just scurry on to something intellectually and spiritually enriching, like Patriots All-Access, but, as I was about to move along, the glam and perky hostess introduced the next celebrity interviewee: Meghan McCain! I wasn’t going anywhere.

First, in this era of separated-at-birth luminaries – the most obvious being, of course, the eerie similarity between Tina Fey and Sarah Palin – I was immediately struck by how reminiscent Meghan McCain is of the actress who played Lucy Ewing on Dallas: Charlene Tilton. Maybe the reason John McCain picked Sarah Palin as his VP nominee (I figure there’s got to be some reason so I’m winging it here) was because he already has a daughter who’s a dead ringer for a movie star – well, former television starlet – and it seems to be working for Meghan… however, I digress.

The reason that Meghan was on the show, other than the fact that she’s a Famous Daughter and a newly published author of a book about her father*, was to respond to a recent comment by Matt Damon: he had said something to the effect that the Sarah Palin hockey-mom-to-nominee saga was “like a bad Hollywood movie.”

“So, Meghan,” chirped the hostess, “What do you say to THAT?”

Meghan executed a perfect shoulder shrug and eye-roll in the best Valley Girl fashion (and that’s not a partisan comment since I’m certain that the Obama daughters could Valley-Girl Meghan right under the table) and then responded, “I think that people should stick to what they do best. Matt Damon should stick to acting, and I’ll stick to blogging.”
Hey ho, epiphany!! Blogging! Meghan’s a blogger! That’s what she does BEST!!

Now, some of you might think that blogging isn’t exactly work. You know, that activity that maybe you go to school to learn and get trained for and then practice and learn some more until you get good at it? Unlike, for example, the rigorous curriculum of coaching principles as propagated by Coach University (I’m not kidding) there is no Institute of Advanced Blogography. There are no rules, no requirements, no nothing. After all, you blog, I blog, we all blog. The serial killer down the street blogs. My cat blogs. What’s so special about blogging? I’ll tell you what’s so special.

Blogging means that you can express whatever brilliant or provocative or revengeful or just plain stupid thought wanders across your mind, and share that thought with potentially millions of people. Scary? No! It’s Democracy at its purest! You don’t have to be informed, ethical or balanced – you simply have to open your virtual mouth and spew. Of course there are people out there blogging away who are reliable, accountable, professional writers but I daresay they represent a tiny fraction of blogworld. Somewhere there’s a gateway to the blogosphere and upon it is writ: “No Offer Rejected! No Credibility? No Problem!” The blogosphere is the most truly egalitarian enterprise that humankind has ever known and the ultimate refutation of the “expert.”

In a previous column, I said I “sort of knew” Sarah Palin. Well, with that as my standard – I don’t know Sarah Palin at all – then I can say, with confidence, that I DO know Matt Damon. I actually, as in personally, know Matt Damon’s mother Nancy. She and I worked together at Lesley University and became friends – Nancy is a nationally recognized expert in childhood education and conflict resolution. And she didn’t utilize her status as Famous Mother to publish her book Taking Back Childhood: Helping Your Kids Thrive in a Fast-Paced, Media-Saturated, Violence-Filled World (I highly recommend that you check it out – it’s a wise and invaluable resource).

Because I know Nancy and have heard her talk about Matt, I know something of his life and values. I know that, in addition to being wicked cute, very talented, and by all accounts a great family man, he’s a highly intelligent, compassionate, informed and concerned human being who knows whereof he speaks. Why should his profession compromise his ability to comment intelligently on the issues of our day? Would we tell a rancher that his considered opinions about politics are irrelevant because he’s (gasp!) a rancher… as opposed to, what? A blogger? And really, folks, who would know more about “bad Hollywood movies” than someone in the Industry?

Sorry, Meghan. You and I and Matt all have the right to voice our opinions and be judged (by that I mean paid attention to) on the basis of how valid we can demonstrate our positions to be. Not everyone will agree with us, of course, no matter how persuasively we express our ideas – and let’s remember that folks can honestly view issues from different perspectives -- but to dismiss someone on the basis of his or her line of work is tantamount to my saying, “What does Meghan McCain, who’s merely a daughter of a politician, know about anything?” And that I would never do.
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*By the way, not to minimize Meghan’s literary accomplishment but, really, if you’re a Famous Offspring you get to do a book about your Famous Parent. It’s in the contract written at birth. I’m sure that Malia and Sasha are hard at work on a book about their dad entitled “When Do We Get That Dog You Promised Us?” Clever how they worked “US” in, eh?

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