• Lawrence Jackson/Wikimedia Commons
  • President Barack Obama reads auras, 2009

Last night, trying to take the temperature of America, I watched the first two episodes of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo on YouTube while I sewed, for the second time, holes that had appeared more or less simultaneously in each front pocket of a pair of pants. (The leading indicator of this problem is the cold metallic feel of coins hitting your thighs on their way down your pant legs, a 100 percent metaphorical experience.) I was left nonplussed on two counts. First, sewing—Jesus H. Christ has some famous bon mot about getting a camel through the eye of the needle, but you’ve got to imagine the guy never tried straight-up thread, which is nigh impossible. Second, Honey Boo Boo—was this good? Was this exploitation? If I were writing an exegesis for n+1, could I use the word abjection?

Happily, an easier cultural analogy became available in the sentient forms of Cobbler and Gobbler, two turkeys, though that ended up a wasted opportunity. The White House put its special spin on the annual tradition of pardoning a Thanksgiving turkey by choosing two birds and then asking the country to vote (on Facebook, natch) on which would receive the official pardon—a grisly, fucked-up, almost unbelievably hilarious publicity ploy. I loved it for all its reality-TV-era possibilities. The two turkeys’ differences were delineated as follows: