Maybe Saul Had This Guy In Mind

By , June 22, 2020 11:38 am

Saul Steinberg was a cartoonist whose work frequently appeared in The New Yorker. My guess is most people know of him because of The New Yorker cover above, dated March 29, 1976. (I’ve always thought it interesting that Utah was one of just four states noted on the map.)

The map came to mind this morning as I was reading a Robert A. George piece in the New York Daily News. In it, George tells the story of a 1983 interview of David Bowie on MTV to illustrate his case that there still is systemic or institutional racism. According to George, “Bowie asks VJ Mark Goodman why the station didn’t play more videos by black artists. Defensively, Goodman tries to explain programming”:

We have to try and do not just what we think New York and Los Angeles will appreciate, but also Poughkeepsie or the Midwest, pick some town in the Midwest that will be scared to death by Prince (who we’re playing) or a string of black faces and black music.

Said who? White fans of Jimi Hendrix, Sly and the Family Stone, and the Four Tops? Fans of Tina Tuner, the Supremes, the Isley Brothers, Shuggie Otis, Buddy Miles, James Brown, and the list goes on? But beyond that, what balderdash is this that Goodman casually blames middle America in order to excuse corporate America’s–corporate rock’s, no less–inability to see anything but it’s own projection on the west side of the Hudson? Kudos to Bowie, by the way.

I’m not sure how far we’ve come since that 1983 interview; far I think, but not far enough. And I’m not sure how far we have to go; not as far as some think, but far enough to require some effort on everyone’s part.

Panorama Theme by Themocracy