Maybe it’s the nature of large annual festivals. Entropy is a law, after all. It happened to Lollapalooza right about the time Metallica showed up. Anyone who has ever had the misfortune of skiing in Park City, Utah, during the Sundance Film Festival knows how much “indie cred” is left in that annual Hollywood hobnob hoedown. Hell, even CPAC, which hosted President Ronald Reagan a dozen times, is featuring Donald Trump this year. It’s not that I think “The Donald” is a self-serving buffoon who is tailor-made to be a ringmaster for the twisted freakshow that is reality television; it’s just that I think… Well, that’s pretty much exactly what I think.
But down Austin, Texas, way, the ultimate cool-annual-gathering-gone-bad story is unfolding right in front of us. Once an almost painfully hip music and arts festival, South By SouthWest (SXSW) has morphed into another faux-hipster snotfest at which corporate-backed liberal icons indoctrinate smug twerps who might as well sport nametags that read “Hello, My Name Is: Low Information Voter.” In all honesty, SXSW is welcome to invite, feature and obtain enormous corporate sponsorship deals from whomever the organizers wish. But I’m afraid the cool factor has melted away in a sea of liberal hypocrisy. Either that, or SXSW is actually what passes for hip these days, in which case the whole country is seriously screwed.
I’m willing to admit I’m not the coolest cat on the block. Not only was I alive when that reanimated corpse they’re passing off as Madonna was “Like a Virgin,” but I’m pretty sure I was alive when she still was a virgin. But I’m Jay-Z’s next Grammy compared to one of the headliners at this year’s SXSW.
Global warming inventor, alleged massage therapist-molester and foreign oil beneficiary Al Gore hit the stage to a roar of approval. While banners for Samsung, AT&T and other corporate giants fluttered in the Texas breeze, the nine-figure-fortune holder and private-jet traveler proffered leftist bons mots; and the evidently irony proof audience lapped up the tired platitudes like thirsty kittens.
The multimillionaire former Vice President and self-proclaimed Internet inventor took to lambasting income inequality, something he called the “stalker economy,” so-called “global warming” (or whatever they’re calling it this week) and even the coming plague of “spider goats.” And then, in a moment that could happen only at a mass assembly of liberals, Gore fired off this non-sequitur: “The NRA is a complete fraud…” I guess it takes one to know one, right, Albert?
Instead of jeers, Gore’s attack on the NRA earned a standing ovation. The epicenter of American cool, version 2013, got on its feet to cheer the greatest living exemplar of liberal hypocrisy for attacking a group he used to support over an issue with which it is unconnected in a place in which it would never be welcomed.
Either SXSW has declined into an orgy of corporate-co-opted pop entertainment or members of the next generation of American style makers and trendsetters are skinny jeans-wearing drones who honestly believe pabulum puked out by eco-nerds like Gore is manna from heaven. Now that I’ve thought about it, I think we might be screwed.