Tales from Flyover Country

Since I am one of Iowa’s newest residents, I suppose I should finally comment on professor of journalism Stephen Bloom’s screed against my poor benighted state.  In a nutshell, he takes about 6000 colorful words to argue that Iowans shouldn’t have such a prominent role in selecting presidential candidates because we’re all corn-shucking crackers who don’t represent the beautiful mosaic of American diversity.

If you haven’t already, I encourage you to read both the original article and Iowahawk’s pitch-perfect satire of it.  But the long and short of it is that the way Professor Bloom revels in Iowan stereotypes manages to fulfill just about every stereotype of elitist left-coast professors.  As Mollie Hemmingway put it, “This reads like a parody of what conservatives claim journalism professors and journalists think about them. Except that, you know, it’s not a parody.”

This is old news, but it seems that Professor Bloom was on NBC last week defending himself against criticism from the hordes of dangerous Jesus-freaks that surround him.  It’s worth watching simply to see him continue to expertly play the part.  He takes the classic elitist professor stance of claiming that everybody is upset because he’s too hardcore for them to handle–which pretty much makes him the Charlie Sheen of academia.  Unlike most Iowans, he’s not on meth, but he is on a drug.  It’s called Stephen-freaking-Bloom!  Or maybe it’s just tenure; I don’t know.

Of course, it’s all an act.  In order to maintain his elitist persona he has to begin by expressing surprise that anyone could be such a simpleton as to be upset over what he wrote.  Then towards the middle of the interview he realizes that he doesn’t want to look naive, so he tells Willie Geist that he knew he was stepping into a dangerous situation when he wrote it.  And, of course, he indicated elsewhere that he’s “sorry” people are offended, but in the same breath tells us that causing offense is the point of journalism (it’s not).  So I guess he’s both sorry he’s a journalism professor and surprised that he’s successful at journalism?  <tangent>In academia, art has been all about causing offense for a long time.  I guess journalism is now too.  How long until the day comes when causing offense is the only knowledge college graduates have?  I’m glad I graduated before computer science and economics are all about offending.</tangent>

In any case, it seems fairly clear that Bloom’s screed against Iowa is about Iowa only in pretense.  His stilted version of the state is merely a foil by which he attempts to establish his own social standing.  At the end of the day, elitists only write about themselves–nothing else interests them.

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2 Responses to Tales from Flyover Country

  1. Adriane says:

    You moved to Iowa? Congratulations! I’m a native Iowan, and I miss that place somethin’ fierce!

  2. Matt says:

    Indeed; my wife is also a Iowa native, so I’m glad she doesn’t need to miss it any longer. As for me, I’m new to living on the literal edge of a cornfield, but I’m very much enjoying it so far. 🙂

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