I've never read a book by Tom Wolfe. Growing up, my parents had a ratty paperback copy of Bonfire of the Vanities on the shelf next to their bed. It was an ugly book. I was vaguely aware that there was a movie of the same name. Never appealed to me, and sadly since it was a book owned by my parents in paperback I sort of assumed it wasn't high literature. Not sure it is, but that's neither here nor there.
Last night while discussing branding and this Onion article, JKD emails me this link. It's hard for me to imagine the talent that justifies this much ego. Tom Wolfe looks like a small town mayor from the 30s dressed up for his office portrait. It's hard to imagine that he himself is so potent as a brand as to justify this kind of arrogance.
The whole thing suggests a new level of personal definition. It's strange. Branding has gone from something you do to the ass of cattle, to something that companies seek, to something that major companies devote budgets somewhat akin to the GDP of small Asian nations to define, and now people are becoming brands. I read somewhere that David Bowie offered stock in himself. Now Tom Wolfe is making himself a brand. The only other person who I know of who has self branded as effectively is Thomas Kincaid. I, myself, hate Kincaid like he stole my date, and shot my dog. His work is so purposefully devoid of talent. So fuzzy and readily digestable as to make Norman Rockwell seem like Maplethorpe. Kincaid is like the pureed carrots of art. It asks nothing of the viewer and, sadly, offers nothing to viewers. But he has branded himself. He has factories that produce posters to which he applies a few highlights and then sells them as original works. I guess two dots of paint on the snow capped roof of yet another warmly lit cottage in the middle distance is almost like an original work. Granted using the term original to describe any of his works is a fallacy of incredible proportions. I find his work so cloyingly annoying that I often wonder that there are enough shitty motels to justify his continued creation. And yet, he is a brand. Hooray! Remind me that if I ever try to brand myself I should first do it with a hot iron.