Friday, July 06, 2007

A Small Circle Of Friends

A point I have often made is that we are often blindsided by our reality and consider anything outside our experience to be abnormal. It hit home to me as a child when walking into another person's house. You put the sofa there? You collect those little figurines? You don't have a tv in your house? What kind of freak are you?

I get so tired of hearing about "the real America", as if living in Kansas and Nebraska makes your experience any more genuine than somebody in the Bronx or in Hermosa Beach. You go to Nebraska, and you may be shocked to learn that while one neighbor conforms to all your typical stereotypes, somebody a few properties away reads Thoreau, has a kid into heavy metal music, and they watch PBS if the tv is turned on at all.

Which one of these families are "real Americans"? NASCAR dads are apparently going extinct if you look at the numbers. The ratings have been dropping for the past two years by a pretty fair chunk. All the same, the telecasts average a little more than five million viewers.

This means that two hundred ninety five million people aren't watching NASCAR. O'Reilly dominates cable news with sometimes two million viewers. Many successful radio talk show hosts have only 298 million folks tuning them out. A best selling book is not bought by three hundred million people, as with a double platinum album.

We are in an era of niche marketing, focused audiences. This does have it's drawbacks. Although we were limited, when there was just a choice of three big networks, we had a shared national media experience. We don't now.

Pretending that Rush Limbaugh's success means that Americans want styrofoam in landfills, and no reforms in health care policy is a delusional concept.

We have gone from soccer mom's to NASCAR dads without blinking an eye and wondering if these handy shortcuts mean something. Those six million people who religiously watch people turning left for 500 miles may be American, but they aren't the only Americans that matter.

Faith Popcorn be damned.