Joe Kernen, Cultural Taste-Maker

The Wall Street Journal today includes a front-page story on the “stealth” marketing of the film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (reviewed by Slate’s David Edelstein here). Some of what is revealed in the story is a little short of surprising. For instance, to drum up interest before the Sony Pictures release, the company hired, get this, “a New York-based movie publicist.” How stealthy can you get, eh?

Anyway, we also learn that Sony recruited a 13-year-old to play up the film on his Web site. And that Crouching Tiger did well on the film festival circuit. And that the publicist helped screen the film for lots of “taste-makers,” including Jay Chiat, Naomi Wolf, members of the Wu-Tang Clan, and … Joe Kernen.

OK, I’m surprised. The CNBC Squawk Box co-host is an excellent stock commentator. And there’s something charming about the way his on-air partners Mark Haines and David Faber–who also screened the film–hassle “The Kahuna” about his lowbrow eating habits, which seem to revolve around Taco Bell. But does his opinion about a new film matter? Well, why not? People keep saying that the development of a kind of stock market culture in America has created a new class of celebrities, and if that’s so, then surely Kernen is one of them. So why not seek his endorsement? And once you drink that Kool-Aid (now there’s a product that could benefit from a money culture spokesperson–Jim Clark leaps to mind), the possibilities for, say, Maria Bartiromo’s endorsement career seem more or less unlimited.

No word in the Journal on what Haines or Faber thought, but Kernen pronounces the film “cool” and adds that he was not bothered by the subtitles.