by LUKE BAUMGARTEN & r & & r & Wings of Change & r & & r & There's this blackness closing in around my heart. A cynicism. It must be an election year. The last time I felt it was 2004. John Kerry. You know the story. I didn't expect that to happen this time, but it has.
Not because the candidate around whom the youth of America are supposed to rally is a lumbering 2-by-4 in a $4,000 suit. For the exact opposite reason, actually. Barack Obama is everything young people want in a leader.
Young himself, and charismatic, he believes -- or purports to believe -- in nothing so much as change. Seriously, is there a more perfect vessel for the dreams of an entitled young generation? "Change": It doesn't really even mean anything, and yet it perfectly encapsulates everything that being young is. As a result, those who barter in youth -- who buy and sell it -- have descended en masse. Pop stars.
Bon Jovi is playing a benefit that runs $28,000 a ticket. Springsteen's playing the DNC. Madonna's current tour plays videos that compare John McCain to Adolf Hitler on the one hand and Obama to Mahatma Gandhi on the other. Do these people believe in the man, or believe in a symbol capable of reigniting their careers?
Last week, I received a CD called Wings of Change from some dude named Robert WindPony. The case was absolutely festooned with Barack imagery. The album was supposedly "dedicated" to him. Dedicated, but not benefiting. No portion of the proceeds goes to the Obama campaign. There isn't a donate button on Windpony's Website.
Is there any sincerity in any of it? I'd love to think so. When Arcade Fire played for Obama in the tiny Ohio hamlet of Nelsonville -- home to a really amazing brickworks back in the day, now home to a staggering number of homes with dirt floors -- the initial thought is that that was pure good will. But Ohio University and its 20,000 students sits just miles away. Is Winn Butler hoping to be an instrument of change, or hoping that change will be instrumental in endearing his band to the students of southwestern Appalachia?
Each election cycle, I try really hard not to be a cynic. But when you're sitting at the confluence of culture and politics, the cynicism creeps in anyway.