Brother Rod Dreher, who makes his living scratching his beard and expressing opinions, finds inspiration in a right-wing chain letter making the rounds. The “Letter From the Boss” is the usual story — blah blah I worked so hard building my business blah blah no one ever gave me anything blah blah now I have to bail out a bunch of lazy bastards blah blah I am moving somewhere they appreciate me blah blah blah.
Expect it to appear, edited for space, as a letter to the editor of an Indiana newspaper any day now.
As a piece of grassroots conserva-ganda, it’s only average, and it’s not what interests me. What does is how these pieces morph with every e-mail forward, how the details change. I Googled a phrase and beheld the pages upon pages that have seen fit to reproduce it. In one version, the self-denying boss lived in a “300-square-foot studio apartment.” In another, it’s a “two-bedroom flat.” In most iterations, he’s been building the company for 28 years, but in others, for only 12 years, or 48, or nine.
One version changed many details, presumably for an Australian audience. The 300-square-foot studio apartment of deprivation is “a three-bedroom villa house,” (which doesn’t sound so bad, really). The “rusty Toyota Corolla with a defective transmission” — the first detail to mark is as b.s. for me, because as every Detroiter knows, Toyotas never have defective transmissions — is in this version a “rusty Holden Torana with a wonky transmission.” No Ramen Pride for this guy, but “baked beans, stew and soup.” And so on.
Who thought to make these changes? Who said, “Nah, it’s more effective if he’s worked at the business 19 years, not 28.” Maybe because Ramen Pride noodles weren’t common in U.S. markets 28 years ago?
The time to study these phenomena was after 9/11, when they arrived in in-boxes hourly. That was when I though the good folks who run Snopes should all be given MacArthur genius grants, the better to fund their work toward making this a better, or at least less bullshit-saturated, world. In the days after the disaster, I heard a Fort Wayne talk-radio host, a man who considers himself imbued with military rigor and discipline, blithely pass along the whopper about the six firefighters who were found alive and well under a vast pile of rubble, protected by their sturdy American SUV. Never mind the simplest questions would have poked the story apart like the toothpick construction it was — how much rubble? how did they breathe? who are they? where did the story first appear? why were six firefighters driving around under the towers in an SUV? and so on — it was a good story, and for some people, that’s plenty.
By the way, the Letter from the Boss is pretty amusing. The fact owners of small businesses work hard is hardly news to me, but just for balance, here’s how it worked in my little corner of corporate America: The boss was fond of ordering vast changes in the weekend’s papers around 4 p.m. Friday, after which he’d stroll back to his office, pack up his gear, and then leave, caroling to all in earshot, “Well, I’m off to the lake!”
Not that it matters. Another country, dead wenches, and all that.
Via Roy, I see Videogum is looking for the Worst Movie of All Time. Roy congratulates them for singling out “Crash” and “A.I.,” and I do, too, but I would have added the other “Crash” and, well, dozens more. I’m not quite following V’gum’s reasoning — why “Man of the Year” and not “Patch Adams?” Why “Alexander” and not “Showgirls?” Such questions make up the great barroom discussions of our time. Feel free to join in, here or there.
Friends, I’m off. Have a good weekend, and I hope I survive the coming snowstorm. Five to eight inches and no, I’m not happy about it.