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Fat Steve's Archives

| Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Outrage at the Main Stream Media placemaker

Outrage at the Main Stream Media
      Why does it get so many of us annoyed?  Let us count some of the ways.

1) Just plain incompetence.  Here's a small example from the "newspaper of record," the premier newspaper in the United States, The New York Times:
By Nascar's estimate, stock-car racing now counts 75 million fans -- more than a quarter of the United States population -- and, to put that in broader context, more than the entire populations of Britain, France and Iran.

      From the CIA's World Factbook:
Population: (July 2005 est.)

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland                                               60,441,457
France                                                60,656,178
Iran                                                     68,017,860

      From the CIA's World Factbook, Population (July 2005 est.)

United Kingdom                               60,441,457
France                                                 60,656,178
Iran                                                      68,017,860


'Sunday Money' and 'Full Throttle': Nascar Nation

Published: May 22, 2005

For a certain segment of the population, Nascar's raid on American culture -- its logo festoons everything from cellphones to honey jars to post office walls to panties; race coverage, it can seem, has bumped everything else off television; and, most piercingly, Nascar dads now get to pick our presidents -- triggers the kind of fearful trembling the citizens of Gaul felt as the Huns came thundering over the hills. To these people, stock-car racing represents all that's unsavory about red-state America: fossil-fuel bingeing; lust for violence; racial segregation; run-away Republicanism; anti-intellectualism (how much brain matter is required to go fast and turn left, ad infinitum?); the corn-pone memes of God and guns and guts; crass corporatization; Toby Keith anthems; and, of course, exquisitely bad fashion sense. What's more, they simply don't get it. What's the appeal of watching . . . traffic? It's as if ''Hee Haw'' reruns were dominating prime time, and the Republic was slapping its collective knee at Grandpa Jones's ''What's for supper?'' routine. With Nascar's recent purchase of a swath of real estate on Staten Island, where it intends to plop down an 80,000-seat racetrack and retail center for the untapped New York City market, the onslaught seems poised on the brink of full-out conquest. Cover your ears, blue America. The Huns are revving their engines.

Whether any of that distaste and criticism is justifiable is -- like the pros and cons of requiring engine restrictor plates to control speeds at Daytona Speedway -- open to debate. What's beyond debate, however, is Nascar's surging ascendancy in American sports, and thus, by extension, American culture. By Nascar's estimate, stock-car racing now counts 75 million fans -- more than a quarter of the United States population -- and, to put that in broader context, more than the entire populations of Britain, France and Iran. (It's also, coincidentally, the number of anthrax vaccine doses that President Bush ordered a few months ago.) Nascar's TV deals alone are worth $2.8 billion, its licensed-product sales worth another $2 billion annually. Since 1947, when an entrepreneurial racer named Bill France concluded there was money to be made by aligning all the loosely run, disjointed dirt-track races scattered across the South, Nascar -- the acronym for the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing -- has witnessed exponential growth, enough for journalists to regularly hail stock-car racing as ''the fastest-growing sport in America.'' (Others, more ebulliently, have called it the fastest-growing sport in American history, which could indeed be accurate. Or not: baseball was billed as the national pastime just 17 years after its supposed invention.) What was once a fringe sport, even in the South (you saw plenty of overalls in the old dirt-track grandstands, but no seersucker), has, in the course of 50-some years, upended the American sporting scene. The ''wild new thing'' that Tom Wolfe uncovered in his famous 1965 article for Esquire, ''The Last American Hero Is Junior Johnson. Yes!,'' has left nearly every other spectator sport choking on its exhaust.

But why? its detractors ask. No other sport is so captivating to so many yet so utterly uncaptivating to so many others. If the latter aren't repulsed by the deep-fried spectacle of a Nascar event, with its schizo mix of beery loutishness and Promise Keeper piety, then they're bored stiff by the racing itself.


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