You know the feeling I mean: You watch something that has the media agog. Simply agog. It could be the real-life struggles of the latest "American Idol" finalists. It could be Lady Gaga. It could be LeBron James.
Or it could be a new political ad featuring Sarah Palin proudly proclaiming the newest fictive "It" demo in American politics: "mama grizzlies."
And you find yourself wondering, Wait. Why am I supposed to care about this, again?
You're raised on the media. You're hip. You're worldly. You're fashionably jaded without being unpleasant to talk to at dinner parties. You know all about the up-front, a percentage of the gate, and having legs in the secondary markets. And yet, sometimes when you watch pointless stuff like this seeming to catch fire in a heartbeat, you feel that tiny little soul-check: Is it somehow my fault that everyone seems to think this matters . . . except me?
At No More Mister Nice Blog, Steve's on it. Long story short: Probably not your fault.
Principle #1: The media people assume that you're naturally interested in whatever they're interested in.
The important thing is that the mainstream media thinks the ad has broad-based appeal. This means that the ad has broad-based appeal to the mainstream media itself. The MSM always projects its beliefs outward onto the rest of us -- when MSM folks like something, they tell us we like it. They think they're reporting our favorable reaction, when in fact they're reporting their own.
Principle #2: The media people aren't really interested in whatever you're actually interested in; they're just interested in whatever they're interested in.
What impresses them about the ["mama grizzlies"] ad by has nothing to do with policy positions or whether Palin would actually be competent as president of the United States. What they're impressed by is her perceived mastery of messaging. They care about media products, and she created a slick one. That means it barely matters whether she's extreme or ill-informed or petulant and childish. She gives good visuals, so she is now a Serious Person.
And there you have it: This explains not only why the "mama grizzlies" ad by Palin's PAC -- an ad which doesn't seem to be about much other than itself -- appears to be of interest to everyone, but also that vague fluorescent-light-background-hum of guilt you experience when you realize that it isn't really of interest to you at all, and that it doesn't really even seem to make much sense.