The epitome of epitome
Ken Tomlinson, the crack Bushhead now heading the Corpse for Public Broadcasting and the ace who hired Mr. Mann to decide which bits of public broadcast were "anti-Bush," "anti-Delay," or "anti-corporation," used to be Editor in Chief of Reader's Digest.
The Reader's Digest somehow failed to make this list. I'm guessing the list compilers all have the dog-eared mag sitting beside their porcelain thrones, or Lazy Boys. Porcelain Lazy Boy thrones. Flag decals, wet bars, noble stags.
According to Wikipedia:
The following are some of the basic values founding the discourse of the Reader's Digest.
- Individual achievement. Digest characters are always struggling, against bad luck, against systems and regulations, against diseases, and their only weapons are their own courage, cooperation between individuals, and an occasional helping hand of God.
- Optimism. Most Digest stories have happy endings. There is only one other case: the article may acknowledge in the end that there are still many difficulties to overcome, and give advice.
- Moral conservatism. Though the Digest has from the beginning written very openly on sexuality, it has always been emphatically in favor of traditional marriage, loyalty to your country, discipline and charity, and against feminism, free love, positive discrimination (affirmative action).
Nothing less jocular than an epitomizing gesture that pretends to be offering a microcosm of the national scene ("Life in These United States." "Humor in Uniform." "Laughter: The Best Medicine." "Drama in Real Life"), when the editorial process has more in common with the compositional techniques of Ed Gein.
To someone growing up in New York City, the Digest was like background noise of the Big Bang -- evidence that something really big and nasty had happened, somewhere in the vicinity of Ohio. Which always made it a surprise that it seemed to emanate from Pleasantville, NY. Today it seems more a generational marker.
The power of the Digest lay in its power to produce, month after tedious month, a representation of USian reality that obeyed an editorial regimen the way objects obey the laws of gravity. A set of tonal tics and wry bits of humor and remembrance that are the publishing world's version of the politically innocuous personality - the hale fellow, well met, no qualities.
The Reader's Digest is apparently still the best selling magazine in the US. No more effective propaganda machine out there. I'll buy that for a dollar. Mr. Tomlinson simply wants PBS to follow suit. Yuk it up - you'll live longer.