Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Folklore, Fakelore and Poplore: Quotes from Marshall Fishwick's 1967 Saturday Review Article

"Folklore is the country mouse talking. Taken to the city, cheapened by charlatans and opportunists, folklore became fakelore, as the mass took over from the folk. For some, the sad tale ends here. But wait - there's another mutation. Using the new urban material with its chrome and kitsch, imaginative artists, ad men, and script-writers are developing a poplore which is as true to its environment as was folklore to an earlier one. Call it poplore, and ask if it doesn't complete the circle."

 - Opening lines of Marshall Fishwick's fascinating article, "Folklore, Fakelore, and Poplore" from the August 26, 1967 issue of Saturday Review

"Studying the meager Bunyan material in 1920, Constance Rourke concluded that there was no live prototype for Bunyan, a conclusion with which Professor Daniel Hoffman concurred a generation later. Paul owed much of his fame to a free-lance advertising man, William B. Laughead, hired by the Red River Lumber Company to sell their products. When other ad men and promoters joined in, Paul came to symbolize the cult of bigness and power in a booming chauvinistic democracy. He mirrored a bumptious, optimistic nineteenth-century robber baron - the collective state of mind of people whose primary task was the physical mastery of nature. Bunyan was company fakelore - in a business civilization, the most likely to succeed." - Fishwick, "Folklore, Fakelore, and Poplore"

"Thus fakelore is to folklore what the pseudo-event is to the real event. And thus the emergence, in the Eisenhower years, of a new Gresham's law of American public life: counterfeit happenings will always drive spontaneous happenings out of circulation. Poison tastes so sweet that it spoils our appetite for plain food. When the gods want to punish us, they make us believe our own advertising."  - Fishwick, "Folklore, Fakelore, and Poplore"

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