Friday, August 28, 2009

Fighting Bob Fest

We got a request by Random N00b for our thoughts on Fighting Bob Fest, the now annual meeting of progressive folks in Baraboo. So here it goes:

No, I don't go, nor do I plan to in the future; but I wouldn't rule out the notion entirely. My primary criticism of FBF is that it has a tendency to sacrifice quality at the alter of quantity. Check out this year's schedule. Speakers get only 20 minutes. That's just not enough time to speak on anything of substance. Ideally, speakers would get at least an hour followed by a Q & A session. 20 minutes, however, is more than enough time to pander to a sympathetic audience. When that's the case I don't need to go to the event to know what people are going to say. Bob Fest is a pep rally and those don't interest me.

That being said, we're surprised that Bob Fest does not get more attention. Last year there were 10,000 people in attendance. That's twice the number of Tea Partiers at the capitol this April and five times the number of people at Net Roots Nation. It's an event that probably should be covered by C-SPAN, but isn't because it takes place in Wisconsin.

Bob Fest has a lot of potential -- it could be like a progressive Lollapalooza , put it needs to offer more than just platitudes to ideological fellow travelers.


Anonymous said...

From Scot Ross's Facebook status: "Gen X, Y and the Millenials can enjoy a record-high number of speakers under the age of 40 at Fighting Boomer Fest. One. Thanks!"

Jb said...

Yeah, that's also something we forgot to mention. FBF is for old people.

I assume that the only speaker under 40 at FBF this year will be Jeremy Scahill, who has done some impressive work covering private military contractors.

This guy could talk for hours about the stories he's covered. He's a journalist, not a cheerleader, and he gets to speak for 20 minutes. That's not an efficient use of anyone's time.

Ross' point is more important, however. FBF does have a reputation for being a weekend retreat for aging activists and wilting flower children and cuts to the point of just how poorly the progressive opinion makers in Wisconsin are at developing young talent.

Conservative can't stuff their annual pow-wow, CPAC, with enough college students and have large portions of the program designed to motive, cultivate and mentor young activists. Nothing like that happens on the progressive end of things.

I know it looked very gimmicky -- and it was -- when a 14 year-old addressed CPAC last year, but in a certain respect it goes to show just how much emphasis conservative put on getting their ideological hooks into minds when they're young, especially when it comes to developing leaders.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the answer.

I went once, but spent the a.m. wandering around some big building, talking to a crazy lady who was running for council in Milwaukee, and freezing my ass off.
and the p.m. I spent gossiping with Ron Hardy in the beer tent. Now that I think about it I don't recall listening to a single speaker the whole time.
3 old guys hit on me on the bus on the trip down there. and let's see - I "witnessed"(the only word for it) the most disgusting gluey-stringy grilled cheese sandwich in the universe the price of which was about 49.95
Ron ate it with alarming alacrity, while I
Froze my ass off some more, and then finally I sat with Myron on the bus trip home so the 3 old guys would not hit on me again which turned out to be great since Myron is an "awesome dude" by anyone's reckoning and more emotionally "out there" than I am so I have the rare experience of feeling coldly analytical while fully immersed in an intense 3 hour conversation about The Universe
but then I also had a massive headache by the time I got home

hmmm, I had signed up for the bus again this year, but now that we've run thru this I'm not so sure anymore...not sure at all