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UNSTOPPABLE NARRATIVES! We’ve decided not to post about Anne Kornblut’s report: // link // print // previous // next //

UNSTOPPABLE NARRATIVES: Like Kevin Drum, we hope that Gore will win the Nobel peace prize tomorrow—and we hope it for somewhat similar reasons. For the record, it’s more than possible that Gore won’t win. A very large number of people have been formally nominated. (According to the news report cited below, Gore has been jointly nominated with Sheila Watt-Cloutier, a Canadian Inuit who has campaigned about the effect of climate change on Arctic peoples.)

But let’s take note of the power of narrative. On Sunday, the Times of London published this short report, saying that Gore “is being tipped as a favourite [sic!] to win.” Clearly, Sarah Baxter’s piece is friendly to Gore. And that’s why we were so struck by certain parts of her imagery.

First, we were struck by her second paragraph, presented here in full:
BAXTER (10/7/07): Gore, a former American vice-president and failed presidential candidate, has reinvented himself as the “Goracle” with a rock star following after presenting last year’s Oscar-winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth, about the dangers of climate change.
The power of press corps narrative is truly something to see. The notion that Gore was constantly “reinventing himself” was one of the punishing claims the press corps asserted, in every conceivable circumstance (and some that were not), during his twenty-month run for the White House. Baxter, of course, is being friendly to Gore. But this press corps narrative, devised to harm Gore, still trails Gore around in her head; indeed, it seems to have been power-blasted into every English-speaking journalist’s brain. We had a somewhat similar thought when we read Baxter’s paragraph 6:
BAXTER: Gore spent last year assessing whether he ought to run for the White House in 2008, teasing his supporters by saying, “I haven’t completely ruled it out”, and prompting observers to keep a close eye on his girth for signs that he was slimming for a presidential bid.
Tragic. Even as the director of Oslo’s International Peace Research Institute tells Baxter that Gore and Watt-Cloutier are “likely winners this year,” she can’t resist the power of gravity. In her very next paragraph, she recycles the astounding immaturity of the modern, upper-class press corps. As if propelled by a force from the grave, she interjects a comment about Gore’s girth. By now, it’s just Hard Pundit Law.

In An Inconvenient Truth, and in later interviews, Gore often said how hard he’s had to work to convey the facts about global warming. I feel like I haven’t been very successful at telling this story, he has often said. Indeed, it’s exceptionally hard to convey information—but it’s astoundingly easy to convey brainless narratives. Even as she praises Gore, Baxter can’t resist the pull of her cohort’s sheer inanity. The word “reinventing” is stuck in her head in the compartment reserved for Gore. So is the concept of girth.

What complete, f*cking fools we mortals be! And here’s what the right-wing machine has long known: It’s very easy to put silly narratives inside our soft and brainless heads. It’s very easy to hand us scripts—scripts that just never leave us.

NOTE: Sorry! We’ve decided not to post something today. Maybe we’ll post it tomorrow.