Thread by @RottenInDenmark on ‘cancel culture’ (Twitter)
I think this is why the "cancel culture" moral panic gets under my skin so much. *So* many of Americans' false unof people and events come from the fact that the media was traditionally run by a tiny number of gatekeepers.
Laurie Penny: This Is Not the Apocalypse You Were Looking For (Wired)
Pop culture has been inundated with catastrophe porn for decades. None of it has prepared us for our new reality.
Capitalism cannot imagine a future beyond itself that isn’t utter butchery.
This is because late capitalism has always been a death cult. The tiny-minded incompetents in charge cannot handle a problem that can’t be fixed simply by sacrificing poor, vulnerable, and otherwise expendable individuals. Faced with a crisis they can’t solve with violence, they dithered and whined and wasted time that can and will be counted in corpses. There has been no vision, because these men never imagined the future beyond the image of themselves on top of the human heap, cast in gold. For weeks, the speeches from podiums have suggested that a certain amount of brutal death is a reasonable price for other people to pay to protect the current financial system. The airwaves have been full of spineless right-wing zealots so focused on putting the win in social Darwinism that they keep accidentally saying the quiet bit out loud.
The quiet bit is this: To the rich and stupid, many of the economic measures necessary to stop this virus are so unthinkable that it would be preferable for millions to die. This is extravagantly wrong on more than just a moral level—forcing sick and contagious people back to work to save Wall Street puts all of us at risk. It is not only easier for these overpromoted imbeciles to imagine the end of the world than a single restriction on capitalism—they would actively prefer it.
Maria Bustillos: Friendship Is Complicated (Longreads)
Art, commerce, and the battle for the soul of My Little Pony.
Branded toys routinely make more money than the films and cartoons on which they are based—sometimes a lot more—so it’s logical in a way that yes, children’s television shows and movies are basically long, elaborate toy commercials. If they are to provide something, anything, more interesting or positive for children than a siren call to the toy store, any other potential motives—humor, pleasure, an observation on human nature or a philosophical or moral lesson—are incidental to the prime directive of selling toys, lunchboxes, T-shirts, and all the other branded merchandise known in the trade as “CP,” or consumer products.
In effect, it’s no longer possible to produce mass-market children’s entertainment outside the parameters of “selling out.”
All the bronies I have met share this effortless camaraderie; some are shyer than others, but basically they are twenty-somethings with the simple, unaffected friendliness of 5-year-olds.
There’s a temptation to reckon the attempts of artists like Lauren Faust to create entertaining and meaningful shows within the straitjacket of corporate commerce as entirely futile, hopeless. A mug’s game. But then I remember the Grand Galloping Gala in full swing. In time the techno music was blasting and a throng of kids massed together in the center of the dancefloor, dressed in cosplay pony ears and swishing tails and all sorts of homemade cartoon finery, pogoing, and suddenly it became clear that they were all chanting together.
Evan, I said. Are you hearing what they’re chanting. He’s all, What is it? It was this:
“Friendship! Friendship! Friendship!”
I would hope that, should Sanders lose the nomination, I’d avoid the emotional lethargy that followed his defeat in 2016, when I assumed Clinton was a foregone conclusion and thus didn’t need my focused support. (Somehow working up enthusiasm for Joe Biden would, I think, be the most magnificent personal development of my lifetime — but then again, what’s the alternative in that situation?) I would hope that, should Sanders become president and fail to enact any of his ideas, I wouldn’t take this as evidence that his leftist ideology was completely inapplicable to American society. I would hope that, should Sanders win the nomination and lose against Trump, that I wouldn’t swing back to the “actually, we need to get more racist” of electoral pragmatists. I’d hope to put aside my own saltiness about feeling like a giant dumbass, and continue support and search for the politics that would lead to the best outcome for everyone, not just the one that would satisfy my own ego.
In short, I’d hope that my beliefs would not be centered in any need to be right, which is probably the worst motivation for believing in anything. Of course, this desire is the animating factor behind a lot of human behavior, political or otherwise, which is partly what makes following election coverage such a nightmare. Across all the websites and all the cable channels, in the pages of newspaper op-eds and glossy magazines, on social media platforms and obscure blogs, we find hundreds and hundreds of incurious, selfish jerkoffs extolling their wrongness as if it is a virtue, confident in the conclusions they’ve arrived at through assumption and ignorance.
This is not only because of that human tendency toward adopting confidence despite the opposing evidence, but a more pernicious truth: that the financial and professional incentives for doggedly pursuing this wrongness are, in fact, quite immense. You can build an entire career on wrongness, staggering from one idiotic position to the next with no consistency or morality, and just… keep doing it. Nothing is going to stop you.
Hanson O'Haver: The web looks like shit (The Outline)
Share buttons and prompts to “read more” treat readers like idiots who don’t know how to do basic tasks; meanwhile, a huge amount of faith is put in technology, which fails constantly. Embedded social media posts don’t load properly, videos expire, and the pre-populated tweet mangles the text. If there are high-res photos, they are often too large to display on a standard laptop screen, so one first looks at a face and much later scrolls to see a body. Should the poor reader decide to navigate the site’s categories via the drop-down menu, they must maneuver the mouse like a tight-rope walker, lest the proper choice vanish before they can click on it.
Clio Chang: How to Save Journalism (The New Republic)
The shift to an organized industry also has political implications—and not just because journalists are becoming more active through their union work. In the larger scheme of things, unionized media workers are starting to see the world and themselves in a new light. Journalism, like other creative-but-poor industries, is predicated on the idea that its practitioners are just lucky to be doing what they love; they’ve long been conditioned to believe that there’s something inherently prestigious, even noble, about this type of white-collar work. But as media jobs become more precarious, undermined by the same monopoly forces affecting workers in other parts of the economy, media workers are increasingly seeing themselves as workers first.
This is what Marxist-minded leftists have long termed class consciousness, and that consciousness is spreading, within legacy and digital media brands alike.
To reclaim the foundations of a free press in America, media workers need to get serious about dismantling tech monopolies and implementing policies that would reverse our new Gilded Age. It seems to be no coincidence that countries that operate the freest press regimes, such as Norway, Sweden, and Finland, also have comparatively low income-inequality. The Jonah Perettis of the world think that they can solve the media crisis in isolation, without acknowledging that they are integral to and have benefited from the system that gave rise to this crisis in the first place.
What’s more, union activism can help bridge the yawning power dynamic that now separates tech monopolies from the flailing media sector. Tech companies will have to feel threatened if they’re going to implement reforms and meet media companies more than halfway—and the companies themselves clearly pose no threat at all. The way the media business works now is that Facebook and Google and Apple News reap the bulk of the profits produced by the labor of journalists—either by leapfrogging the ownership structure entirely or enlisting short-sighted owners, who mostly compete with one another, to give away their content for a pittance.
Maria Bustillos: Where the word Empowerment is, there too Bullshit you shall likely find (Popula)
The conveniently toothless word “empowerment” is easily mocked, but the mockery itself serves a darkly useful purpose: What cannot be taken seriously need never be examined, let alone condemned.
This comfortable habit of casual derision prevents Western media watchers from grasping the real import of certain ideas, like this one, “empowerment,” which is now become a fig leaf for questionable claims and even outright fakery, especially where women’s rights are concerned. Beyond this, the kind of rhetoric in which “empowerment” appears is often the kind that is meant to make you stop thinking about something, rather than keep thinking about it.
Empowerment is a word you can use to distract, to deflect criticism, and even to raise money. In the context of specific foreign policy influence, putting an empty, pretty concept in the place where a fact or an idea or an action might have been is… well, it’s one way of practicing dismediation.
Trump is in thrall to an alien power because of the compulsions of intersecting profit schemes that require not just mutual interest but political intervention which must in turn be concealed because of a peculiar social pretense, one lacking in any material reality, that there both should be and is a separation between the political and the economic.
Which, like, no shit. What we have just described is the political-economic arrangement in which we live. My dudes, all capitalists are in thrall to an alien power and that alien power is capital itself. It is not the same as wealth. It is the great and entangled set of relations that both compel and allow for the increase and concentration of wealth. It may involve personal relationships and it is easier for us to grasp when it does. Mostly it does not. The wage that a textile worker can demand is shaped by the rates of textile workers thousands of miles away whom they will never meet, by the unemployment of people they will never know, and by the development of new machines they may never use. And yet all of this action seems to be coordinated to deliver profits over there and misery over here, over and over. No wonder we keep on misrecognizing this situation as a conspiracy.
But it is not, except in so far as society itself is a conspiracy. It is, however, an alien power. It structures our actions from a distance, after all. It exists outside of us but it passes through us, using us for its own sustenance. It can never come to rest, must always increase itself or cease to exist, and thus the capitalist must seek whatever deals can allow his capital to expand, and do what it takes to make that happen.
America if you want a president—and here I challenge Popula readers to write in with a coherent account of why you want a president—who is not in thrall to an alien power, you are going to need to make some structural changes, the very kind of changes that conspiratorial thinking and fantasies of purging corrupt individuals are unable to contemplate. Back away from the yarn and nails. They will not rescue you.
Disinformation, once it’s done telling its lie, is finished with you. Dismediation is looking to make sure you never really trust or believe a news story, ever again
Dismediation is a form of propaganda that seeks to undermine the medium by which it travels, like a computer virus that bricks the whole machine. Thus, for example,
Information: John Kerry is a war hero who was awarded three Purple Hearts, a Bronze Star and a Silver Star;
Misinformation: John Kerry was never wounded in the Vietnam War;
Disinformation: John Kerry is a coward;
Dismediation: ‘Swift Boat Veterans for Truth’ are disinterested sources of information about John Kerry, equivalent in integrity to any other source that might be presented on the evening news.
These four narratives were distributed simultaneously across various channels during the 2004 election, though only one of them (the first) is true.
The lasting harm of this unfortunate episode, however, was not to Kerry’s reputation or to his candidacy. It was that afterward, millions of minds were uncertain as to what really constitutes “news,” or “reporting,” or “fact-checking.” This state of uncertainty hasn’t ever been adequately addressed, let alone mended.
Dismediation isn’t discourse. It doesn’t disinform, and it’s not quite propaganda, as that term has long been understood. Instead, dismediation seeks to break the systems of trust without which civilized society hasn’t got a chance. Disinformation, once it’s done telling its lie, is finished with you. Dismediation is looking to make sure you never really trust or believe a news story, ever again. Not on Fox, and not on NPR. It’s not that we can’t agree on what the facts are. It’s that we cannot agree on what counts as fact. The machinery of discourse is bricked. That’s why we can’t think together, talk together, or vote together.
Dismediation is hard to combat, as it distorts not the facts, but the means by which facts can be understood. It’s like trying to win a chess game when the board has been flung into the air and the pieces scattered; quite often the bewildered victim finds himself trying in vain still to play e5 Qxe5 or whatever.
His politics, to the extent that they’ve ever been legible, have always been off-the-rack big city tabloid bullshit—crudely racist exterminate the brutes/back the blue authoritarianism in the background and ruthless petty rich person squabbling in the front. His actions since becoming president have been those of a dim, cruel child playacting at being a powerful man—giving orders without quite knowing what they mean or how they might be carried out, taunting enemies, beating up the people he can afford to beat up without having to be called to account for it, lying as needed or just for yuks. He hasn’t changed a thing since graduating from punchline to president. It’s been clear for decades that Trump was both an asshole and a dummy; this is now a problem not just for the odd unlucky cocktail waitress and his staff of cheesy apparatchiks but for literally every person on earth.
Emmet Penney: Lectureporn: The Vulgar Art of Liberal Narcissism (Paste Magazine)
This belies an important distinction between liberals and conservatives, lectureporn and the ubiquitous tirade in conservative media. It’s the Nietszchean distinction between contempt and hate. You can hate an equal or someone with power over you. So conservatives hate liberals (hence their paranoiac victim narrative), whereas liberals have contempt for conservatives, which means they’re arrogant. Arrogant people are lazy in general and inept when it comes to empathy. If you can’t empathize with people, you can’t understand them. And if you can’t understand their worldview, you can’t hope to either win them over or defeat them. You’ve played yourself. No one cares if you’re right and ineffective. That’s called being an impotent loser. For all the talk about “bleeding heart liberals” who vote with their tears, they’ve proven to be staggeringly emotionally incompetent.
Tom McKay: 6 Actual Acts of Terrorism That Occurred While Everyone Was Panicking About Refugees (Mic.com)
What's the real threat to the U.S.? Here's a partial sampling of all the horrible things that have gone down while anyone turning on the news could hear someone arguing that Syrian refugees pose the biggest existential threat to public safety the country faces today.
1. Mass shooting at Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado
2. Armed protesters intimidate mosque in Irving, Texas
3. Bomb hoax at Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center in Virginia
4. Five arrested in plot to bomb black churches and synagogues
5. Mosque shot at in Connecticut
6. Alleged white supremacists shoot five at Black Lives Matter rally in Minneapolis
Kevin Drum: Even in the Hands of an Expert, Mockery Is Tough to Control (Mother Jones)
On Obama's mocking comments regarding conservative's fear of refugees.
That's the risk of using mockery. Used on its own, it makes ordinary people feel like you're clueless and condescending. But even if you do it right, as Obama did, the way it's reported can end up having the same effect. And that effect is exactly the opposite of what liberals would like to accomplish. So if you care about the real world, and you care about public opinion, keep the mockery to a minimum. That doesn't mean you can't fight back, and it doesn't mean you have to go easy on the fearmongers. You can do both. Just do it in a way that doesn't immediately turn off the very people you'd like to persuade.
Parker Molloy: 5 things the media does to manufacture outrage.
People are so sensitive these days! People are just offended by every little thing! Millennials, amirite?!
Are there people upset about stupid nonsense? Absolutely. If it becomes “a thing,” however, it’s because the media made it “a thing.”
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For all the ways in which Serial is and isn’t what it should be, or what we want it to be, maybe it demonstrates the fictionality of criminal justice, by believing it to death. Sarah Koenig’s belief is very white, as lots of commentators have observed or complained; she has a kind of naivete about how the system works—a naive expectation that it does work—that rubs a lot of people the wrong way, especially as she observes that it doesn’t. She expects a good faith search for the truth on the part of the criminal justice system, and repeatedly finds nothing of the kind. And then she looks for it again. She suspends her disbelief, all the more when—at the end of the show—she puts things in the hands of the Innocence Project and the Reddit detectives. Let them sort it out. Let them continue. Let them keep going with it. She had a radio franchise to continue, a season two to plan.
Elizabeth Plank: Why We Love Angry Men, But Hate Impassioned Women (PolicyMic)
In other words, a man is angry because he cares, while a woman is angry because she's an emotional wreck. Men who are angry don't only get more respect, status, and better job titles — they also get higher pay Despite the fact that men can use anger to achieve status, women may need to be calm in order to come off as rational. You know, so that people don't think they're PMS-ing, or whatever.
Eric Harvey: Let Me Get My Ideas Out: Why Kanye West Is Still Speaking Through the Wire (Pitchfork)
Kanye’s decade-long solo career has been a struggle between the non-stop ideas running through his brain and his skills at verbalizing them through a variety of communication obstacles, whether self-created or forced upon him.
It turns out … spoilers don’t spoil anything. In fact, a new study suggests that spoilers can actually increase our enjoyment of literature. Although we’ve long assumed that the suspense makes the story—we keep on reading because we don’t know what happens next—this new research suggests that the tension actually detracts from our enjoyment.
Martha Raddatz and the faux objectivity of journalists | Glenn Greenwald | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk
Raddatz repeats big lies that are D.C. narrative—that Iran is a threat, that entitlement programs are ‘going broke’—during the debate as a showing of ‘objectivity’ as a journalist. Bullshit.
These establishment journalists are creatures of the DC and corporate culture in which they spend their careers, and thus absorb and then regurgitate all of the assumptions of that culture. That may be inevitable, but having everyone indulge the ludicrous fantasy that they are "objective" and "neutral" most certainly is not.
Patrick Stokes: No, you're not entitled to your opinion
I’m sure you’ve heard the expression ‘everyone is entitled to their opinion.’ Perhaps you’ve even said it yourself, maybe to head off an argument or bring one to a close. Well, as soon as you walk into this room, it’s no longer true. You are not entitled to your opinion. You are only entitled to what you can argue for.
Max Read: There Is No Such Thing as 'Politicizing' a Tragedy (Gawker)
Before he entered the theater, he purchased guns, whether legally or illegally, under a framework of laws and regulations governed and negotiated by politics; in the parking lot outside, he was arrested by a police force whose salaries, equipment, tactics and rights were shaped and determined by politics. Holmes' ability to seek, or to not seek, mental health care; the government's ability, or inability, to lock up persons deemed unstable — these are things decided and directed by politics. You cannot "politicize" a tragedy because the tragedy is already political. When you talk about the tragedy you're already talking about politics.
Steven Hyden: Why being a pop-culture “hater” is okay (and sometimes even necessary) (The A.V. Club)
While I’m loathe to discuss the presidential race or the existence of God with strangers or even close friends and family members, I’ll gladly enter into conversations about whether it’s plausible that Joan did what she did with the dude from Jaguar in that recent episode of Mad Men, or why my beloved Packers will return to the Super Bowl this year. And I’ll do this even if I think the other person disagrees. If we end up jousting verbally for a few hours, it’s still fairly certain that we’ll be friends at the end of the night. I wouldn’t be as confident over a difference in party affiliation or spiritual beliefs.
Noel Murray: Our “white people problems” problem: Why it’s time to stop using “white” as a pejorative (The A.V. Club)
But increasingly, people aren’t sniping about “whiteness” to be funny, or even defiant—at least not entirely. They’re using the term as a form of criticism, meant to be dismissive. “That movie looks very white,” or, “That sounds like music for white people,” is another way of saying, “That can’t be any good.” And I do have a problem with that.
Tim O'Reilly: Before Solving a Problem, Make Sure You've Got the Right Problem
I was pleased to see the measured tone of the White House response to the citizen petition about SOPA and PIPA, and yet I found myself profoundly disturbed by something that seems to me to go to the root of the problem in Washington: the failure to correctly diagnose the problem we are trying to solve, but instead to accept, seemingly uncritically, the claims of various interest groups.
Alyssa Rosenberg: In the Wake of Trayvon Martin's Death, Fox Pulls Its Marketing for Alien Invasion Comedy 'Neighborhood Watch' (ThinkProgress)
it’s worth interrogating why we find images of over-the-top approaches to law enforcement funny or compelling
A combination of anger as pathos (vicarious justice rendered), hero worship, and making light of authority?