Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Polibrity Update

Back in November, I tried to coin the phrase "polibrity" in a post, referring to folks like Sarah Palin who pretend to be politicians but are really just seeking out the spotlight - politicians who in fact are mere celebrities. Polibrities. I was prompted by this post on Newser from Michael Wolffe, in which he suggested bluntly, "Literate people should boycott books." He based this provocative statement on the fact that folks like Palin claim that they are authors, but actually do not write books. Publishing such drivel ruins books for the rest of us. I don't entirely agree with him, but I certainly stand next to him in frustration.

The term I created to air my frustration, polibrity, has generated some traffic to this site, and I noticed its correct usage in Peter Grier's recent article about Palin joining Fox News, in the Christian Science Monitor - a respectable publication if there ever was one! Perhaps Grier came up with this term on his own, or perhaps he read it here. Either way, I'm pleased to see it circulating. It has since been picked up in a few tweets, by social media folks like Seattle's Linda "TheNewsChick" Thomas, whose tweet was reposted by Steve Furman, a Chicagoan who runs the Expedient Means website. It's totally national.

Are there other examples of polibrities, beyond Ms. Palin? Sadly, for those of us on the left, we have Al Franken. I like the man just fine, but I'm not sure he should be a politician. What was wrong with comedy, and writing funny books skewering rightwing nutjobs? I for one enjoyed Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right just fine. Rather than go into elected office, I'd rather folks like Franken - who have done horrendous movies and cheap television shows - just keep taking shots from the sidelines. Molly Ivins did a damn good job with it. (See my obit for her here.) Michael Moore has his place. In a more serious way, smart and much-needed folks like Amy Goodman, Naomi Klein, and Jim Hightower keep plugging away outside the beltway.

Polibrity elsewhere? Of course, there's Arnold Schwarzenegger, a large presence who cannot be ignored, whom we can only hope will not follow in the footsteps of Reagan. I know Schwarzenegger has calmed down from his "girly man" shout-outs, which were quite common early in his campaign, but I still think he has no place in office.

Given how much folks seem to enjoy this term, I will try going forward to occasionally provide "Polibrity updates," especially as they relate to publishing. (There may be fewer, sans Judith Regan, a woman who should have coined this term. She amped it up a notch!) Sure, that will put me in the awkward position of hoping for polibrity sightings despite being frustrated by the phenomenon, but for you readers, I'll do it.

Onward and upward.

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