August 5, 2011

Postrel on Glamour...

Virginina Postrel, Obama Glamour Can't Fix Charisma Deficit - Bloomberg:

...What's the difference? Charisma moves the audience to share a leader's vision. Glamour, on the other hand, inspires the audience to project its own desires onto the leader (or movie star or tropical resort or new car): to see in the glamorous object a symbol of escape and transformation that makes the ideal feel attainable. The meaning of glamour, in other words, lies entirely in the audience's mind.

That was certainly true of Obama as a candidate. He attracted supporters who not only disagreed with his stated positions but, what is much rarer, believed that he did, too. On issues such as same-sex marriage and free trade, the supporters projected their own views onto him and assumed he was just saying what other, less discerning voters wanted to hear...

...He was the political equivalent of the seductive high heels described by Leora Tanenbaum in her book "Bad Shoes": "When you see a pair of stilettos on display in a department store or featured in a fashion magazine, you can imagine yourself wearing them and becoming the kind of person who lives a magical life, gliding around gracefully with no need for sensible, lace-up shoes. The fantasy just might become realizable by stepping into the shoes and inhabiting them." That's glamour...


....Glamour is a beautiful illusion -- the word "glamour" originally meant a literal magic spell -- that makes the ideal seem effortlessly attainable. Glamour hides difficulty and distractions, creating a false and enticing sense of grace. We see the dance, not the rehearsals; the beach resort, not the luggage and jet lag. There are no bills on the kitchen counter, no freckles on the pale-skinned star, no sacrifices in the promise of change.

This illusion is hard to maintain for more than an escapist moment. Even the most beautiful shoes are never as glamorous once you've worn them and discovered they give you blisters or, at best, didn't transform your life. The same is true of presidents. Familiarity breeds discontent...

I well remember trying to argue with people about Obama, using... logic. What a joke. I can see now that a lot of people were looking forward to the whole country being Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. When you are under the spell, then the whole point is that all those tedious dragging things are not going to matter. Gravity will hardly pull at all.

Posted by John Weidner at August 5, 2011 8:05 AM
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