Masscult and Podcult
James Wolcott, on the controversy over JPod's appointment to be editor of Commentary:
... it's ridiculously prissy for Podhoretz's doubters and detractors to act as if Commentary risks infection from the alien virus of popular culture. Before it became strictly the lyric sheet for perpetual war, Commentary ran numerous essays about popular culture without feeling it had to apologize to Lionel Trilling. It ran a number of Robert Warshow's influential essays, it published Jewish hipsters such as Albert Goldman, Seymour Krim, and the young future director James Toback, for years it featured a film-review column by William S. Pechter, it even made room for Clive James's brilliant tour de force about Norman Mailer's Marilyn ...
Point is, if I know about Commentary's record of popcult coverage, shouldn't its contributors and donors have more of a clue instead of treating young Pod as if he were the lucky sperm club's tribute to Roger Ebert?
Indeed. The Times quotes Podhoretz saying that there won't be a "popping up" of the magazine - i.e. no "cover stories on 'Gossip Girl'" - but I'm with Andy Ferguson:
[JPod]'s style is a mix of “Mad magazine meets Foreign Affairs,” said Mr. Ferguson, who added he should develop that sensibility as editor. Commentary has such an air of sacred reverence around it, he said, that Mr. Podhoretz, may be “the only intellectual and conservative in America who is not intimidated by it and who could therefore change it.”
I suspect that Commentary won't stop running the occasional unpersuasive defense of neoconservatism under its new editor, but I'm hoping that - JPod's protestations to the Times notwithstanding - it makes room for that Gossip Girl piece. (I'm sure Reihan would be available to write it.)