America

America


 (image: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-iSqatI-aAAQ/Tlzb9JxqgRI/AAAAAAAAEXc/WXsoF5jPMGA/s1600/Levis_go_forth1.jpg)

An early wax recording of Whitman reading this poem was used by Levi's Jeans in an advertisement in their "Go Forth" campaign. Whitman would likely find value in the "humanness" of the ad: substitute the "perfect-looking" models for real people, and of course kill the angle, and what you have left is a well done video tribute to Whitman's poem. Not to mention the conflation of the poem with the biblical "Go Forth" adds to the mythical scope of Whitman's work and is complimentary.

But it's still an ad.

Whitman would no doubt object to the narrow view of his work being presented through the necessarily limiting medium of advertisement. Certainly they had advertisements, to a lesser degree, in Whitman's time, but nothing such as this, nothing big enough, or bold enough to append itself to someone so essential to a nation's culture. This is a sign of the "now," when we can have out culture taken from us, wrapped in denim, and sold back to us for $50 plus tax. Nothing can change the fact that perhaps America's greatest poet's primary cultural function in 2013 is to sell jeans.

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