You’d think that a major university like Rutgers would be largely immune to the anti-intellectualism that plagues U.S. Higher Education. That’s apparently not true as their recent hiring of “Snookie” for a recent speech. She was paid $32.000. (Strangely, for once I agree with the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, which reported the story here.) I think this might signal some sort of benchmark for the class divide in U.S. Up there, of course, money is no issue.
If this were a state funded school, or any non-Ivy league university, I imagine that the outrage would be much louder. I don’t mean the public at large, though, I mean the outrage inside Rutgers. My guess is that the students at the school, all no doubt destined to be our betters, are too completely secure in their superiority to be threatened by mass entertainment. It’s no more (or less) anti-intellectual than Naturalists in late 19th century America visiting freak shows.
It’s bad faith humanism, or domestic Orientalism, as if the literate and materially and socially affluent now feel so distant from the less literate, less affluent that they seem like exotic animals, fascinating examples of other cultures. Something like this must explain why there are now so many “working class” television reality shows, like “Coal” and “Dangerous Catch” and so on. I suppose that earlier shows, like American Chopper and Dirty Jobs were the earliest signs of the trend.