Interesting thought from Glenn Reynolds at TCS Daily:
The 25th anniversary of Elvis Presley’s death has passed, and news reports have stressed his continuing influence on music, culture, and race relations. But those reports have missed Elvis’s greatest achievement: as a cultural immune response to totalitarianism….
Hitler was aided by a new technological innovation: the radio. Nazism’s totalitarian sibling, communism, spread largely by print and took decades to gain a foothold. But radio allowed Hitler to manipulate emotions wholesale, in a way that had never been possible before. And the masses – starved for entertainment and desperate for catharsis, and a sense of purpose – ate it up.
But now it’s all different, and Elvis deserves a lot of the credit. Oh, there were big stars before Elvis: Bing Crosby’s appeal is now nearly forgotten, but it was once huge, and Frank Sinatra was, in a way, a sort of proto-rock star. But after Elvis, the world was different.
Hitler used the tools provided by new technology. But Elvis owned them: radio, television, movies, it didn’t matter: he conquered them all. And the changes that he brought about helped to topple totalitarian regimes, and make new ones less likely, for he left behind a changed culture that short-circuited the mechanisms that Hitler had used to secure power – and the mechanisms that other regimes used to maintain it.
Read the whole thing: The King of Anti-Fascism