Jane Haddam’s WordPress weblog

We All Just Want To Be Big Rock Stars…

with 2 comments

This post was actually supposed to be about something else, but I ended up in the middle of something.  That means I can’t really sit down and concentrate on…well, anything.

What I can concentrate on–momentarily–is what I saw on television this morning.  I turned it on to get some idea of the weather, which is just lousy, period, at the moment, and what I saw instead was a clip of Vladimir Putin, former President of Russia, on a stage with a microphone in his hand, singing Chuck Berry’s “Blueberry Hill.”

This would have  been odd enough, except that a few months ago, Kim Jong Il offered to concede on nuclear talks and policy if he got to play Batman in the next Batman movie.

I ought to Google that and get the details, but I’m at a strange computer in a strange place, and I’m not sure I want to risk the post by clicking on things that do things I have no idea they’re going to do.

The point is just that I’ve begun to wonder if Nickelback was right–maybe the secret to dictators, maybe to totalitarians of any kind, is not so much a will to power per se, but a will to power as a substitute for the kind of adulation they really crave–the all-out, no-holds-barred, hysterical unconditional love that rock stars get in concert, and nobody else ever gets at all.

If you’ve got talent, you’re Chad Kroeger, or Bob Dylan in 1968–hell, I went to a Dylan concert on the Forever Young tour much later than that, and the audience response was mindboggling.

Anyway, maybe if you have talent you get to do that, and if you don’t you either sink into bumhood or try to rule the universe.  Or at least a little part of it.

And maybe this can all be explained by psychology, as a result of these people not getting enough unconditional love as children.

I don’t know.

I just know that Vladimir Putin is no Chuck Berry.

Written by janeh

December 15th, 2010 at 10:19 am

Posted in Uncategorized

2 Responses to 'We All Just Want To Be Big Rock Stars…'

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  1. I’d always assumed, without much thought about it, that the tendency of high-up political leaders to sing and play musical instruments in public was a kind of PR effort, not an attempt to emulate star entertainers. Something like, ‘Look, I’m really just a nice ordinary guy who likes your kind of music and is so good-natured that I’ll sing/play it in public. Of course, the Irish duet between Mulroney, our then PM, and Reagan, your then President, didn’t play quite that way in the media.

    I’ve got my doubts about the whole idea of unconditional love, never mind unconditional love when a child as a cause of adult behaviour. It’s one of those concepts that sounds fine at first but doesn’t seem to mean much the more you think about it. Surely it can’t mean that the adored one is never criticized or corrected by the adorer, especially if you’re talking about a parent-child relationship. And if you say that the love remains even when the child is chastised (which it surely does; parents don’t generally stop loving their children even when they’re telling them ‘Stop that racket RIGHT NOW and go to your room until you’re ready to apologize to your sister’. But from the child’s point of view, the parent’s love is then conditional on the child not hitting the sister over the head with a toy.

    It seems like a lot of dictators do like public adulation (real or faked), but I think that the desire for the power to remake the world according to their own views is also a very big part of the motivation of most of them. There are easier ways to get applause, surely.


    15 Dec 10 at 3:56 pm

  2. I have a money clip which once read “With money in your pocket, you are wise, you are handsome–and you sing well, too.” And that’s only money. If Putin thinks he can sing, it woiuld be a brave or careless Russian who would disabuse him of the notion.

    There is, I think, a type of person who has to have the cheering crowd, and I for one am grateful whenever any such young person spends his father’s money on an electric guitar and amplifier instead of political or religious texts.

    I don’t think it’s a dictator thing, necessarily. Hitler, Stalin and Mao had bad cases, but Tito not so much and Franco really seems as close to being a faceless bureaucrat as is compatible with absolute power.

    I think people seek political office either to do something (or see that something is NOT done) because there’s money in it, or for the whole cheering crowds and cities named after them bit. When we started the US, it had to be the urge to do something. Presidents left office and went back to work. Then, a bit before the Civil War, being a politician became financially rewarding. (All those long detailed tariffs can be VERY profitable.) The adulation thing is much more recent. Not much over a century ago, no US coin bore the likeness of a President, and the “Presidential Library” was down the hall from the Oval Office. Now we’re naming warships and day care centers after congressmen, and putting Presidents’ names on airports and faces on coins before they’re cold. Obama may be completely indifferent to this, but schoolchildren singing songs about him is going to bring people into politics who in a better world would be learning chords.


    15 Dec 10 at 6:33 pm

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