Tuesday, April 10, 2007

So how did Christopher Hitchens commemorate the fourth anniversary of the toppling of the Saddam statue? By ignoring Iraq altogether and turning himself into Andy Rooney:

The You Decade
There's a new narcissistic pronoun in town.

I suppose I started to notice it about two or three years ago, when the salespeople at Rite-Aid began wearing dish-sized lapel buttons stating that "YOU are the most important customer I will serve today." It was all wrong, in the same way that a sign hung on a door saying "Back in five minutes" is out of time as soon as it is put in place....

The annoying lapel button was soon discontinued, and the bright consultant who came up with it was no doubt promoted to higher things, but "You" retained its centrality. A room-service menu, for example, now almost always offers "your choice" of oatmeal versus cornflakes or fruit juice as opposed to vegetable juice. Well, who else's choice could it be? Except perhaps that of the people who decide that this is the range of what the menu will feature. Fox TV famously and fatuously claims, "We report. You decide." Decide on what? On what Fox reports? Online polls promise to register what "you" think about the pressing issues of the moment, whereas what's being presented is an operation whereby someone says, "Let's give them the idea that they are a part of the decision-making process."

The next time you see an ad, the odds are increasingly high that it will put "you" in the driver's seat. "Ask your doctor if Prozac/Lipitor/Cialis is right for you" -- almost as if these medications could be custom made for each individual consumer. A lawyer or real-estate agent will promise you to address "your" concerns.....

It goes on and on like this. Hey, get off my lawn!

This column is a mess: Hitch throws together more or less current trends (though they seemed a lot more current back in December when Time and other publications were prattling on about "You"), a decade-old Fox slogan, and (in a part I didn't quote) this World War I-era British military recruiting poster. Oh, and the word "y'all," which is even older than that poster, and not a trend at all. What the hell?

Of course, the subtext here is obvious: Not "you"! Me! ME, dammit! Hitchens hates "you" because Hitchens hates you. Far too many of you won't acknowledge the moral superiority of him.

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