While Graham retained authority over the use of his voice, it is unclear how much control he exercised. Graham’s appeal seems closer to that of a capable politician than a shrewd marketer in that his greatest coup was getting people from strikingly different walks of life to believe that he both represented their views and could serve as their moral guide.
Max Forrester is a Ph.D. student in history and Harvey Fellow in American Cultural Studies at Washington University in St. Louis.
Posts by Max Forrester
The real Elvis is American, remember, and America is a consumer society. The desires we project, the stuff we buy—that is what feels real to us. It lets us have any Elvis we want. He left plenty of kitsch in his wake, plenty of pseudo-religion, plenty of Elvis jokes—but he was not, is not, a joke. He lived our contradictions, released our inhibitions, and lost himself in the process.