Contrived Reality

'The ‘Bruce’ David Brooks celebrates is not just the self-effacing voice of our musical traditions. After all, in the rock pantheon he is ‘the Boss.’ Rather, the concerts are fully dramatized and choreographed presentations of Springsteen as the everyman oracle of this mythology, bourn on Wagnerian walls of sound. Metcalf observes, the persona is constructed, “a majestic American simpleton with a generic heartland twang,” a much refined invention, all “po-faced mythic resonance that now accompanies Bruce’s every move.”

The fanciful working class authenticity is key, the basis of the Boss’ claim on what Brooks sees as immense moral authority. Brooks quotes Landau, that there is “not a lot of irony” in Bruce’s work, which, if you have any critical distance from the fabricated character, attendant mythology, and anthemic music, is dead wrong, Otherwise, you are Metcalf’s “rock and roll naïf,” and Landau is a circus huckster.

Springsteen is not alone in constructing a persona, with its own mythology, claiming an imagined authenticity. Many among the cast of characters of the 60’s counterculture, including rock stars, were in fact middle class kids who remade their own histories and identities, which is okay so long as 40 years after Woodstock and Altamont you mention to your impressionable 15-year old kid, this is show business, these are not the real gods, this is not your real history.

But this is not likely among the blue-state elites. Rather, it is likely that Brooks’ daughter will, at an elite university, be taught a map of reality rather close to the Boss’ faux Americana. This is only too cruel, as it is also likely that today’s 15-year-olds will be asked to be stoical, to pay for all the mischief, all the self-serving boomer schemes, financial and otherwise.'

- Edward Azlant, 'David Brooks' Sentimental Education: Bruce Springsteen'.


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