Bob Dylan: Victoria's Dirtiest Secret Yet

by Leilla Matsui and Seth Sandronsky
April 12, 2004

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Since learning from a creationist website that the world is only 6,000 years old, (God made dinosaurs and then he made the baby Jesus) life suddenly seems less complicated, blissful even.  With a few billion years shaved off our planetary lifetime, we can revel in the neo-Neanderthalism of the here and now, and focus our scientific curiosity on more astounding revelations like Bob Dylan being named official spokesman for “Victoria's Secret.”  “Gotta Serve Somebody” has proved prophetic, after all.  Since he embraced the baby Jesus as his savior and tour manager a couple of decades ago, Bob Dylan has made the slippery-slope descent into his own fossil pit and, not surprisingly, corporate America has not only dug him up, but kept him to his word. 

The models in their dressing rooms are-a-changin', and what better way to get them scampering down the catwalk faster than by forcing them to strut their stuff to the vocal renderings of the tone-deaf troubadour and throwback to the “Stoned Age.”  If that scenario seems unlikely, then the only other possibility is that the Cro-Magnon crooner was somehow confused with another old coot at contract signing time.  After all, Bob Dole has sold more Viagra in the last decade than Bob Dylan has sold records, so it stands to reason that the randy old Republican would be a likelier candidate to pitch women's underwear -- or at least be wearing a frilly thong himself.  Or it could be that the Octogenarian Senator just thought better of airing his dirty little Victor/Victoria secret in public.

But whether corporate America's spokesman is Bob Dole or Bob Dylan, the underlying political message is still the same: monkey business should be conducted in the nation's boardrooms and hot tubs -- not in its classrooms.  For neo-Neanderthals of the Christian right, the big bang describes what happens on your wedding night and not what happened in the universe. 

If the conformist, Christian worldview seems glaringly absent from America's secular public school system, then programs like MTV's '”The Newlyweds” fills the spiritual vacuum with its misogynistic biblical premise:  Viewers are invited to laugh along as recently popped virgin and pop-princess Jessica Simpson is domesticated by her older, wiser better half: former boy band frontman Nick Lache.  “Newlyweds” pushes the Bush Whitehouse pro-abstinence agenda by highlighting the fact that fiancé Nick had to wait five years before he got a crack at his teenage bride.

“Newlyweds” is a paid political ad shot in the style of a “Victoria's Secret” primetime special.  In her latest video, Jessica Simpson lays splayed out on a mountain of her own underwear and eventually climaxes with the realization of her own overwhelming consumer choices.  Sexual gratification, we are not so subtly reminded, can be best achieved through marriage and fulfilling one's domestic chores to your husband's satisfaction.  This seems especially ironic given Nick's failing attempts to forge a career for himself outside of his televised marriage.  With so much time on his hands, you would think that he would take it upon himself to wash and fold the laundry himself. 

“Newlyweds” is “I Love Lucy,” surgically enhanced with a boob job and a lobotomy.  Jessica Simpson plays the Lucille Ball role minus a frontal lobe and the original's subversive take on the era's enforced domesticity.   A typical “I love Lucy” episode  revolved around Lucy's ludicrous schemes to get Ricky to buy her a new dress; a plot device which served to satirize America's post-war consumer based culture.  These days “Lucy” needs a walk-in closet the size of a football stadium to satiate her shopping impulses.

Despite his failures as a recording and performing artist, Nick Lache has become the poster boy for cavemen across the nation; the “every man” Neanderthal who shares similar retro-Republican wife beater values.  “98 Degrees”, the name of his former boy band tells us more about his IQ than his “hotness factor.”  The show's producers would have us believe, however, that his ability to read the front of a cereal box makes him some kind of rocket scientist.  Jessica Simpson may be illiterate and vapid, but next to him, she's a regular girl Gump; an idiot savant marketing genius who cashed in on her B-list celebrity the moment it was about to expire. The short shelf life of derivative pop ballads, belted out by hard-bodied underwear models is something her husband has clearly failed to grasp.  If Bob Dylan kicks it before his contract expires, Nick Lache may finally have his date with destiny.

Since its inception, Reality TV, more than any other entertainment medium, has pushed Rupert Murdoch's neo-Neanderthal agenda on the MTV generation in particular.  After Kurt Cobain pulled the trigger on his corporate masters by turning the gun on himself, conservatives have been quick to fill the void with white college boy-gangsta-wannabes and adolescent porn queens to front a highly ideological agenda based on violently enforced consumer values. 

For the over 50 set, there's “American Idol” where goonish, chest thumping power ballads stir the primitive passions of Franklin Mint collectors across the nation. Neo-Neanderthalism isn't necessarily limited to a particular gender or age group.  The neo-Neanderthal plays host to contemporary society's inner demons: the eternal frat boy, or if you happen to be a woman, the “model/actress...whatever.”

Neo-Neanderthalism, the cultural by-product of News Corp. and Clear Channel's iron grip on news and entertainment media, is the in-your-face hedonism of an earlier decade but without the anti-establishment, anti-war messages as neo-Neanderthal godfather Howard Stern recently learned.  “Howard's End” came after the shock jock came under fire for getting political with his shtick -- seems he stuck it in the wrong kind of “bush”. On the contrary, Neo-Neanderthals goose step to whatever rhythm their neo-con masters over in the Whitehouse deem danceable -- as long as the right breast is fully covered. 

Neo-Neanderthals have their adherents, too, in the so-called “liberal” media which has embraced chickenhawk whistle blower Richard Clarke as the second coming.  The neo-Neanderthal take on national security issues and the events leading up to the attacks of September 11th is as follows:  "If we had only bombed the bejesus out of Afghanistan in the first place, this never would have happened".  Neo-Neanderthals still hold Afghanis themselves responsible for the actions of 19 men of mostly Saudi and Yemeni origin.

By the same token, presidential candidate John Kerry (elected by the neo-neanderthal majority in his own party) is lauded as a “war hero” for torching Vietnamese villages and slaughtering civilians during his particularly bloody tour of duty. Meanwhile, pacifist contender Ralph Nader is demonized as a power hungry maniac for exercising his democratic right to bid for the presidency.  For neo-Neanderthals, this is tantamount to treason.  Leave it to neo-Neanderthal pundits to draw their conclusions by performing the intellectual equivalent of ramming square pegs in round holes.  They can always be counted on, in any case, to disconnect the dots.  For that reason Ralph Nader is a “sell-out” to the cause of progressive politics while Bob Dylan's decision to feed from the corporate trough only proves his ruggedly cynical individualism. 

For neo-Neanderthals of the Democratic Party, liberalism is the lighter, fizzier alternative to the more corrosive and caustic variety of soda pop coming out of the Whitehouse bottling plant. Ultimately, though, the two party system offers an identical brand of poison; a concept Neo-Neanderthals on both sides of the political spectrum are not evolved enough to grasp.

While Bush's credibility continues to plunge with every lie being spat out from the gap between national security advisor Condoleezza Rice's front teeth, his administration can take some measure of comfort in knowing that most of the country tuned out of her Sunday school teacher testimony defending the greatest creationist myth of all times: the creation of an American style “democracy” on Iraqi soil.  We shouldn't be surprised if Bob Dylan isn't already at work composing the new nation's national anthem...."the answer is blowing up my friends."

Leilla Matsui is a freelance writer living in Tokyo, Japan. She can be reached at: catcat@s3.ocv.ne.jp. Seth Sandronsky is a member of Peace Action and co-editor with Because People Matter, Sacramento’s progressive paper. He can be reached at: ssandron@hotmail.com

Other DV Articles by Leilla Matsui

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* Sex, Lies, Murder, and Videotape
Presidential Placebos: Sugar-Coated Alternatives to Empire-as-Usual

* Give a Hand to the Governor E(r)ect
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* Regime Change Begins at Home … Literally

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