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[Xmca-l] Re: Dylan at the super bowl
One thing we know for sure about Dylan is that he does what he can to surprise people. That he starred in that ridiculous commercial is to some extent typical, canonical Dylan. I hope that as they wrapped the commercial he thought with a smirk about how much his appearance would screw with people's heads.
This year's Super Bowl was rife with cultural throwbacks. The Red Hot Chili Peppers, a thunderously popular band in the mid-1990s, performed as a sort of side-show to Bruno Mars, apparently the youngest person to ever headline the Super Bowl. The Red Hot Chili Peppers played half of one song--their most popular song ever, but popular 20 years ago. Laurence Fishburne reprised his role from The Matrix (1999) to sell cars. The American corporation Radio Shack tried to rebrand itself with a commercial that involved the phrase "Hey, Radio Shack--the 1980s called: They want their store back", followed by famous celebrities and characters from the 1980s (Hulk Hogan, ALF, the California Raisins, Mary Lou Retton) rushing in to strip the store clean. And on, and on, and on.
To me, the commercials felt bizarrely tone deaf: Does patriotic/pop culture nostalgia really resonate with viewers in this cultural moment? I can't tell if other Super Bowl viewers felt the same...or if I've just been reading XMCA for long enough now that I've fallen out of step with American cultural shifts. Certainly the people I was watching the Super Bowl with seemed to want me to just stop yammering...but then again, if you show up to a Super Bowl party, it's generally bad form to engage in cultural critique. So I stopped talking and crammed some guacamole into my mouth.
To be fair, it was excellent guacamole.
Cultural-Historical Research SIG Communications Chair
Learning Sciences Program, Indiana University
On Feb 3, 2014, at 10:59 AM, Dr. Paul C. Mocombe wrote:
> I believe Bob Dylan is being used to go after or appeal to the people who write on this site...just as rappers and athletes are used to go after young black males and females in urban America.
> Dr. Paul C. Mocombe
> The Mocombeian Foundation, Inc.
> <div>-------- Original message --------</div><div>From: Peter Smagorinsky <firstname.lastname@example.org> </div><div>Date:02/03/2014 9:45 AM (GMT-05:00) </div><div>To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <email@example.com> </div><div>Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Dylan at the super bowl </div><div>
> </div>I included a link to the ad in my original post.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: firstname.lastname@example.org [mailto:email@example.com] On Behalf Of Martin John Packer
> Sent: Monday, February 03, 2014 9:13 AM
> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Dylan at the super bowl
> I didn't see the ad (or the game!), but Detroit desperately needs any help it can get, or simply some attention in the public media.
> On Feb 3, 2014, at 8:46 AM, Peter Hourdequin <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
>> I agree that "buy American" can play into nationalist sentiments which are often based on some version of patriotism. 'Buy local' would be the same thing on a community scale, but it's certainly a sentiment I am more comfortable with. I also agree with the idea of the rust belt producing different products, though it is hard to argue cars are not "socially useful," despite their awful environmental record.
>> But there is also the significant fact that it is hard for any product to be produced without a market. And so it is in fact true that when Americans choose to buy their cars from elsewhere (a logical choice), this has an effect on the workers who once made cars in the states. In the absence of demand for other things these people can make, the rust belt continues to rust.
>> The reality is also that trade policy which influences consumer choices much more than patriotic sentiment is not written by workers, and the version of capitalism that many in America have embraced has led to the hollowing out of America's manufacturing sector (though I think some sectors such as military hardware and aeronautics manufacture remain strong). Thus Dylan's argument that Americans support the production of one type of product (the automobile) in the US. Again, I share the confusion of hearing this message from Dylan on behalf of a giant American corporation. But where are the other viable jobs for those rust belt employees? And where is the market that will drive these jobs?
>> I do think there are various kinds of patriotism, and perhaps the kind in which one has pride in something one's country produces is not the worst of them. On the contrary patriotic pride without any real production seems pretty empty.
>>> On Feb 3, 2014, at 9:46 PM, Peter Smagorinsky <email@example.com> wrote:
>>> Bruce, you're put your finger on my uneasiness when viewing and
>>> thinking about the ad. Thanks,Peter
>>> -----Original Message-----
>>> From: firstname.lastname@example.org
>>> [mailto:email@example.com] On Behalf Of Bruce Robinson
>>> Sent: Monday, February 03, 2014 7:05 AM
>>> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
>>> Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Dylan at the super bowl
>>> I'm not really concerned about Dylan selling out (again) but disagree that 'Buy American' is something dissociated from American imperialism or is something to be supported. Its message is nationalist, implicitly protectionist and preaches that American workers have more in common with indigenous employers than with the Chinese or other third world workers this policy would put out of a job. Plus it's utopian to think people will put patriotism before buying a better and cheaper product from elsewhere. There are other solutions to rust belt unemployment like using the workers' skills to make socially useful products.
>>> I'm not an American but ok would say the same thing about a 'Buy British' campaign (they was one in the 60-s that sankwithout trace).
>>> Bruce R
>>> Peter Smagorinsky <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
>>>> Dylan was also excoriated by his folk fan base when he first played
>>>> electric instruments in the 1960s, so the "sellout" accusation has
>>>> been offered before. I'm not in the business of telling musicians
>>>> how to make a living, so am not making that judgment myself. But
>>>> Dylan has always been an iconoclast.
>>>> -----Original Message-----
>>>> From: email@example.com
>>>> [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org] On Behalf Of
>>>> Peter Hourdequin
>>>> Sent: Monday, February 03, 2014 6:31 AM
>>>> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
>>>> Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Dylan at the super bowl
>>>> I also found this puzzling when I read about it today, but I must
>>>> say that my first reaction was mixed feelings. Patriotism has many
>>>> varieties, and the "buy American" message is quite different from
>>>> supporting American imperialism. Back on his 1983 album, Infidels,
>>>> Dylan took a fairly straight-forward stand on these issues in two
>>>> songs. On "Sweetheart like you" he paraphrases Samuel Johnson when
>>>> "They say that patriotism is the last refuge / To which a scoundrel
>>>> clings. / Steal a little and they throw you in jail, /Steal a lot
>>>> and they make you king. / "
>>>> Then on a later track entitled Union Sundown, he writes:
>>>> "Well, you know, lots of people complainin' that there is no work. /
>>>> I say, "Why you say that for / When nothin' you got is U.S.-made?"
>>>> /They don't make nothin' here no more, / You know, capitalism is
>>>> above the law. /It say, "It don't count 'less it sells." / When it
>>>> costs too much to build it at home/ You just build it cheaper
>>>> someplace else./
>>>> Well, it's sundown on the union /And what's made in the U.S.A. /Sure
>>>> was a good idea / 'Til greed got in the way."
>>>> In this light, Dylan's Super Bowl message is consistent with a
>>>> pro-American worker stance that I think was shared by Pete Seeger as
>>>> well. Still, shilling for an American automaker on the most sacred
>>>> day of America's consumerist culture does leave me with mixed
>>>> feeling about the artist and his role. But since Dylan has been part
>>>> of American consumer culture for five decades, I think the argument
>>>> that he is selling out some principle that he once avowed is less than convincing.
>>>>> On Feb 3, 2014, at 7:49 PM, Peter Smagorinsky <email@example.com> wrote:
>>>>> Apologies to Pete Seeger......
>>>>> For those of you who don't follow American football, the "Super
>>>> Bowl"-the championship game-is the mecca of US advertising. In
>>>> rather a surprise, Bob Dylan was featured in a lengthy ad for
>>>> Chrysler, the car manufacturer. It appears at
>>>> Here's one media account:
>>>>> BOB DYLAN'S SUPER BOWL: Legendary musician Bob Dylan appeared in a
>>>> Chrysler ad that had been kept tightly under wraps. Dylan walked
>>>> through the streets of Detroit explaining that the city made cars
>>>> and that "cars made America." In case you didn't get the point, he
>>>> goes on to explain in his familiar raspy voice: "Let Germany brew
>>>> your beer, let Switzerland make your watch, let Asia assemble your
>>>> phone. We will build your car." It was the second appearance of the
>>>> night for Dylan, if you count his popular 1960s tune of "I Want You"
>>>> that played in the Chobani ad.
>>>>> Just to be clear: I don't begrudge musicians' efforts to make a
>>>> living. I've read some musicians' autobiographies, and unless you're
>>>> an established star or have written something that brings in
>>>> royalties over time, life is a constant struggle. One of the
>>>> greatest saxophone players of his generation, Maceo Parker, took a
>>>> two-year hiatus and worked as a garbage collector to earn enough to
>>>> support his family (James Brown, his original employer, was
>>>> notoriously tight-fisted and cold-hearted with his band members). So, when musicians "sell out,"
>>>> often they're just trying to earn a steady living.
>>>>> Dylan's a little different, given his songwriting royalties, record
>>>> sales, and concert revenues. Once a social critic of the first
>>>> order, he went as patriotic mainstream as possible in last night's
>>>> ad. Compare to Pete Seeger, who quit the Weavers because he felt
>>>> they were too oriented to producing a hit.
>>>>> I must say, this one puzzled me.
>>> Sent from Kaiten Mail. Please excuse my brevity.