It drew jeers at the Republican Convention and spread fire through the scripts of "Murphy Brown," but for a few Harvard figures listed in a recent Newsweek feature, cultural elitism is a badge of honor.
The national newsmagazine's October 5 issue lists 100 members of the nation's cultural elite. And Harvard, commonly considered a bastion of culture and elitism, provided a disproportionate share. At least 12 of the elitists cited are Harvard institutions, alumni or faculty members.
The Harvard Lampoon, Susan C. Faludi '81, Michael E. Kinsley '72, Du Bois Professor of the Humanities Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Professor of Law Randall Kennedy joined cultural elitists such as Woody Allen, Madonna and Vice President Dan Quayle. The magazine will award a "diploma" to everyone on its list.
A companion article on cultural elitism in America was written by another Harvard alumnus, Jonathan H. Alter '79.
Newsweek said its spotlighted elitists are "as different as the nation itself." The Harvard representatives span the spectrum of the select.
The Lampoon was one of four publications declared culturally elite. Others were Entertainment Weekly,
Newsweek described the Lampoon, which hasproduced writers for "Saturday Night Live," "LateNight With David Letterman" and "The Simpsons," asHarvard's "college-humor factory."
Newsweek editors swung by the Lampoon earlierthis year to gauge the publication's elitistpotential, said Lampoon editor David P. Lorsch'92. Clad in black turtlenecks and smoking Frenchcigarettes, Poonsters did their best to fit thebill.
"We're very happy to be among the culturallyelite, but we're really afraid about thebacklash," one Lampoon editor quipped.
Harvard's other representatives tend to taketheir elitism more seriously. Faludi, a formermanaging editor of The Crimson, recently completeda highly acclaimed book on feminism calledBacklash.
And Michael E. Kinsley '72, who once served asvice president of The Crimson, is a writer for TheNew Republic whose liberal column, TRB, isa perfect target for administration critics.
Newsweek said Gates, the chair of theDepartment of Afro-American Studies, is "soon tobe a fixture of oped pages." In addition to histeaching duties, Gates writes often forpublications like The New York Times.
And Kennedy's name fell under the magazine's"Keep an Eye On" category.
Rather than comment on his own accomplishments,Kennedy reacted to his annointment by stressingthe importance of his area ofstudy-re-construction.
He said he was pleased that Newsweek recognizedreconstruction as "a vibrant and important forumfor discussion."
Other Harvard-related elitists include poetRobert E. Bly '50, Design School graduate andnew-wave architect Frank O. Gehry, billionaireSumner M. Redstone '44.
Other Harvard journalists making the listincluded Washington Post publisher Donald E.Graham '66, New York Times critic Frank H. Rich'71 and Jeff Sagansky '74, the president of CBSentertainment
On the ShelfNewsweek is a magazine that doesn't need parody. But since the "top collegiate comics" who conjure up the monthly Lampoon
Why to drop out of schoolHarvard students are a happy bunch. Between course lotteries and Pudding punches, matchbox car-sized cockroaches and papery firedoors, tapered jeans
Elitism UnwarrantedElitism on this page is nothing revolutionary. With the criticism of Barbra Streisand for what was an engaging and poignant
Elite SpeakIt is thus unlikely that aversion to elitism will go away any time soon.
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