Take a look at the picture above. What do you see?
By and large, media outlets tend to lean in one direction or the other on the political spectrum. It’s a shrewd business move, really — the average consumer doesn’t just want a dull recitation of the facts. They like to be told what those facts represent; they want the information placed in context for them, and outlets are more than happy to oblige.
Consumers can always check the news wires (Reuters, AP and the like) for the latest information and use that information to inform their stance on a given issue. If we all did that, however, there would be no need for FOX News, no need for MSNBC; those outlets exist not to give us the news, but to tell us how we should feel about the news.
This is not ideal.
There are three tenets that comprise the notion of American exceptionalism. The first is that the history of America’s founding (as a bastion of freedom and acceptance for all, regardless of their political or religious leanings) imbues the United States with different DNA than that of every other country in the world.
The second is that America’s purpose is to serve as a force for positive change in the world. And the third is that the first two tenets combined serve as incontrovertible proof that the United States is naturally superior to other nations.
As many of you have heard by now, there’s been quite the kerfuffle about this year’s Shakespeare in the Park production of ‘Julius Caesar’; specifically, its use of a Donald Trump lookalike in the role of Julius Caesar. The backlash is coming almost exclusively from the right, and the play, along with Kathy Griffin’s photo shoot, are being held up as evidence to support the narrative that liberals are bullying and threatening anyone who doesn’t agree with them, so they’re the REAL Nazis!
This is, of course, nonsense.
I was walking my dog Max a little while ago, because he’s a good boy when he’s not eating everything in sight. I got to a crosswalk, and as I waited for the light to change I saw a girl walking down the street, dressed in that “retro ‘90s” style.You know what I’m talking about: mid-level socks with frilly tops, tennis shoes from some weird-ass, extinct brand like Avia or Etonic, purple nylon windbreaker with an elastic bottom that makes that swshh-swshh-swshh sound when you walk, hair in a scrunchie. The retro ‘90s fashion trend is as bizarre as the one we just finished with the ‘80s, but without any of the charm.
Anyway, there she was, dressed like she was about to go play with a Skip-It in the park. I took notice, but I’ve seen enough people dressed like this that it’s not a particularly strange occurrence. What was strange was how she was walking: she had her arms straight out from her sides like she was about to engage in some light calisthenics. In fact, she wasn’t even walking; she was strolling. Ambling, even; in fact, I daresay she was meandering.
In the age of the 24-hour news cycle, political and cultural commentators are a dime a dozen. There is no shortage of people willing to go on TV to offer their take on society, just as there’s a mountain of thinkpieces about What This All Means available on every corner of the internet. Everybody has an opinion, and now more than ever, they have the means to communicate it to the world.
Commentary has become an industry unto itself, which makes Bill Maher’s career all the more impressive. There are very few straightforward political or cultural commentators who enjoy as prolific and influential a career as Maher has since breaking out in 1993 with Politically Incorrect (and later Real Time With Bill Maher); moreover, there are few comedians who have managed to remain culturally relevant for as long as Maher. And when you combine the two groups, Bill Maher is in a class by himself.
First things first: Trump meant to type “coverage” — it’s pretty clear based on the context of the rest of the sentence. The reason Twitter lit up for more than 24 hours was not because people genuinely didn’t understand what Trump was trying to say; rather, they were ridiculing him for:
1) Making the typo;
2) Actually tweeting the typo, and;
3) Leaving the typo up for more than an hour.
It was dumb, and Trump was roundly mocked for it, but honestly, in the grand scheme of things, this doesn’t even rate in the top 100 dumbest things Trump has done in…hell, in the past year alone. You would think this would be obvious to any observer, regardless of their political leanings. And in a normal universe, Trump supporters would laugh it off and go on with their lives, and the internet – as it always does – would eventually move on.
It was reported yesterday that Fox News host Sean Hannity is taking an unexpected vacation amidst mounting backlash from his advertisers for his embrace of the bizarre and moronic conspiracy theory surrounding the murder of DNC staffer Seth Rich. For those unfamiliar with the case, Rich was murdered in an apparent botched robbery last July; the internet, of course, wasn’t satisfied with the official explanation for his death. And since Seth Rich was a DNC staffer, conspiracy theorists — with their Rain Man-esque compulsion to make everything, no matter how small, fit into a larger and more sinister picture — decided his death was no mere coincidence.
I recently came across an article by Katy Waldman on Slate titled “Against Retweeting Trump’s Old Tweets.” In it, Waldman makes a case that the popular practice of retweeting Donald Trump’s old tweets whenever his current actions contradict his previously-stated positions is, in fact, a Bad Thing To Do. The title alone was enough to spark my annoyance: someone deemed it worthwhile to sit down and compose a 1,200-word finger-wag about the perils of holding the President accountable for his past comments, as though this practice — which consists of finding an old Trump tweet and tapping twice on your phone in the hope that an internet stranger will find it humorous enough to like it, retweet it, or (dare to dream) follow you — will doom our society and therefore must be contained.
First-person essays have been around as long as the craft of writing itself, and they’ve enjoyed a surge in popularity in recent years. It’s easy to see why: from an editorial standpoint, first-person narratives offer a potentially unique take on a particular topic, and the outlet that runs them is able to offer a perspective that none of their competitors have. From a more cynical business-side view, since these essays are typically the work of freelancers or unpaid contributors, the outlet risks very little in terms of money or exposure while potentially reaping the benefits if the piece goes viral.