Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Support Our Annual Fund Drive! We only ask one time of year, but when we do, we mean it. Without your support we can’t continue to bring you the very best material, day-in and day-out. CounterPunch is one of the last common spaces on the Internet. Help make sure it stays that way.
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Danny Goldberg’s Imaginery Kids

by MARIA TOMCHICK

 

Danny Goldberg’s new Dispatches from the Culture Wars: How the Left Lost Teen Spirit has a great premise: that the decline in political power of the American “left” stems from its increasing alienation from the popular cultures that define the worlds of millions of young Americans. It’s an intriguing idea, worth exploring. Unfortunately, it’s presented like the sort of marketing decision Goldberg, a long-time recording industry executive, might make. Instead of tacking a hit record onto his memoirs, Miramax Books seems to have decided it needed a catchier theme and a new opening chapter.

Goldberg managed acts from Led Zeppelin to Nirvana, going on to help run seemingly every big L.A. corporate music division, about one a year, through the merger-happy ’90s, before starting his own independent label. That history serves here as a name-dropping background to Goldberg’s free speech activism (especially with the ACLU) and fundraising for Democratic candidates. The ultimate “Hollywood liberal” political memoir turns out to be a semi-monotonous 30-year narrative of electoral cycles and music censorship battles, and the meetings that love them. Zzzz.

It’s hard to judge one person’s account of such now-obscure brouhahas. (Remember 2 Live Crew?) Meanwhile, vast chunks are missing from Goldberg’s discussion of his subtitled topic. Are Democrats out of touch? His argument rests almost entirely on adult condemnation of youth culture–stop the presses!–and a stunningly unhip 2000 campaign featuring Tipper Gore and Joe “I’m more religious than you” Lieberman.

But do Democratic candidates now hate kids, or are moralistic adults bigger donors and more frequent voters? This isn’t new–Southern Dixiecrats, a major Democratic Party bloc, were among Elvis’ biggest critics, and from Spiro Agnew to Dan Quayle to Robert Dole to Bill Bennett and John Ashcroft, it’s easy to find more recent Republican counterparts.

Older societal leaders are forever clueless to the ways of the young. Including, apparently, Goldberg, who fails to tell us what “teen spirit” is, how it could be regained, or how it might be applied in politics. Youth, here, don’t have energy or ideas–only votes and disposable income. Goldberg never once quotes or cites an actual young person; in his world, unit sales and hip corporate executives, rather than politicians, speak for the young. The young themselves still don’t speak.

If they did, perhaps they’d mention other factors–like the perceived irrelevance of politicians or futility of trying to influence them. Or they’d discuss–unlike Goldberg–non-electoral, youth-led phenomena like the anti-globalization and sweatshop movements, which have been ignored by Democrats. Goldberg does discuss Ralph Nader’s 2000 presidential bid, but ignores the reasons why so many 18-to-24-year-old voters found the equally wooden Nader (who, Goldberg reports, had no idea in 2000 who Austin Powers was) more compelling than Gore. (Might the young ‘uns be responding to–gasp!–the Democrats’ anemic policies? Or Nader’s accomplishments?) Goldberg can’t even tell us whether Republicans are drawing youth votes from the Democrats (what about Reagan?), or whether kids simply aren’t voting at all. And in discussing the elite left’s antipathy for rap and hip-hop, the wealthy, white Goldberg somehow forgets race and class.

Far more people are drawn to a good time than to a position paper–or to a music executive’s free speech memoir. I’ll take Emma Goldman’s revolution any day. “The left”–the traditional American voice of the disenfranchised, including youth–should absolutely sneer less at pop culture, and celebrate it more. A book on the topic would be a great idea.

MARIA TOMCHICK is co-editor and contributing writer
for Eat The State!, a biweekly anti-authoritarian newspaper of political opinion, research and humor, based in Seattle, Washington. She can be reached at: tomchick@drizzle.com

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

September 26, 2016
Diana Johnstone
The Hillary Clinton Presidency has Already Begun as Lame Ducks Promote Her War
Gary Leupp
Hillary Clinton’s Campaign Against Russia
Dave Lindorff
Parking While Black: When Police Shoot as First Resort
Robert Crawford
The Political Rhetoric of Perpetual War
Howard Lisnoff
The Case of One Homeless Person
Michael Howard
The New York Times Endorses Hillary, Scorns the World
Russell Mokhiber
Wells Fargo and the Library of Congress’ National Book Festival
Chad Nelson
The Crime of Going Vegan: the Latest Attack on Angela Davis
Colin Todhunter
A System of Food Production for Human Need, Not Corporate Greed
Brian Cloughley
The United States Wants to Put Russia in a Corner
Guillermo R. Gil
The Clevenger Effect: Exposing Racism in Pro Sports
David Swanson
Turn the Pentagon into a Hospital
Ralph Nader
Are You Ready for Democracy?
Chris Martenson
Hell to Pay
Frank X Murphy
Power & Struggle: the Detroit Literacy Case
Chris Knight
The Tom and Noam Show: a Review of Tom Wolfe’s “The Kingdom of Speech”
Weekend Edition
September 23, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
The Meaning of the Trump Surge
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: More Pricks Than Kicks
Mike Whitney
Oh, Say Can You See the Carnage? Why Stand for a Country That Can Gun You Down in Cold Blood?
Chris Welzenbach
The Diminution of Chris Hayes
Vincent Emanuele
The Riots Will Continue
Rob Urie
A Scam Too Far
Pepe Escobar
Les Deplorables
Patrick Cockburn
Airstrikes, Obfuscation and Propaganda in Syria
Timothy Braatz
The Quarterback and the Propaganda
Sheldon Richman
Obama Rewards Israel’s Bad Behavior
Libby Lunstrum - Patrick Bond
Militarizing Game Parks and Marketing Wildlife are Unsustainable Strategies
Andy Thayer
More Cops Will Worsen, Not Help, Chicago’s Violence Problem
Louis Yako
Can Westerners Help Refugees from War-torn Countries?
David Rosen
Rudy Giuliani & Trump’s Possible Cabinet
Joyce Nelson
TISA and the Privatization of Public Services
Pete Dolack
Global Warming Will Accelerate as Oceans Reach Limits of Remediation
Franklin Lamb
34 Years After the Sabra-Shatila Massacre
Cesar Chelala
How One Man Held off Nuclear War
Norman Pollack
Sovereign Immunity, War Crimes, and Compensation to 9/11 Families
Lamont Lilly
Standing Rock Stakes Claim for Sovereignty: Eyewitness Report From North Dakota
Barbara G. Ellis
A Sandernista Priority: Push Bernie’s Planks!
Hiroyuki Hamada
How Do We Dream the Dream of Peace Together?
Russell Mokhiber
From Rags and Robes to Speedos and Thongs: Why Trump is Crushing Clinton in WV
Julian Vigo
Living La Vida Loca
Aidan O'Brien
Where is Europe’s Duterte? 
Abel Cohen
Russia’s Improbable Role in Everything
Ron Jacobs
A Change Has Gotta’ Come
Uri Avnery
Shimon Peres and the Saga of Sisyphus
Graham Peebles
Ethiopian’s Crying out for Freedom and Justice
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail