Today’s Slate piece on blogging vs. rapping is pretty entertaining. Amid all the mock sincerity, there’s an interesting point buried in here:
Essentially, blogging is sampling plus a new riff. Political bloggers take a story in the news, rip out a few chunks, and type out a few comments. Rap songs use the same recipe: Dig through a crate of records, slice out a high hat and a bass line, and lay a new vocal track on top.
I dig it. Blogging is a meta-filter on the news. A second- or third-round culling and distilling of memes.
But there’s a further point that author Levin doesn’t quite hit, which is that both Blogging and Rapping are part of a new culture of alternative identities. He does mention it:
And don’t forget those silly, silly names. Even if he didn’t flaunt his devotion to pimping and pit bulls, you’d probably guess Snoop Dogg is a rapper. And Fedlawyerguyyeah, probably a blogger. But the “blogger or rapper?” parlor game can stump even the nerdiest gangsta. Does uggabugga hate on wack emcees or wack Charles Krauthammer?
Beyond that, though, is something a bit more profound. Musicians, bloggers, message-board mavens, and even some enterprising moviemakers have moved to employing the “handle,” a unique moniker that ensures a Google search on the word will return results for you and only you. In the era of the search engine, intentional misspellings are a vital branding tool. It’s something that actors have been doing for years. There’s a reason it’s against the Screen Actors’ Guild rules to allow two people to have the same name: it’s bad marketing.
The alter-ego, once reserved for high-flying international spies, is now available to anyone and everyone. We “front” an image that is not our own. We create an alternative, idealized, virtual self that fits our desired persona better than we could ourselves. The internet’s been great for that.