Substance is the New Style

from shazam791s flickr.

from shazam791's flickr.

This post from Pop Matters forecasts some difficulties for the re-emergence of culture jamming as a prime thread of political speech in the new Obama age. The jamming of the 80s and 90s occurred in a time of economic ‘irrational exuberance’ where folks could and would spend big on consumer items. Now, with the downturn, we see a shift back to a utility focus when people purchase goods, where bang for your buck has made a resurgence.

Which is exactly what happened during the election. Obama won on the idea of issues, as much as the issues in particular.  Despite never quite talking in depth about what his positions were, Obama hammered McCain for talking about things that weren’t the issues  – O maintained the image of dealing with issues without ever really doing the nitty-gritty work of talking about them.  (This New Yorker article summarized the campaign operation pretty well, gives you an idea of what I mean)

Generic brands, like Obama, project the image of being image-free, skirting the over the top image-politics of late 90s branding and counter-branding by pretending to be about substance.  The trouble folks have with making fun of Obama demonstrates the same principle, where the idea of substance trumps the substance itself.


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