John Oliver confronts Dustin Hoffman and then Anderson Cooper confronts Roy Moore’s spokeswoman about his misdeeds.
This is a sea change. The press has removed itself from the debate. Trying to be neutral. Allowing heinous behavior and incorrect views to skate.
But not anymore.
We’re influenced by the news. You think you’re an independent thinker but the truth is you’re swayed by what comes over the transom. And it’s not only the newspaper and cable news, but online too, that’s what the Russians hacking the election is all about. You think it’s a tribal thing, MSNBC versus Fox, NYT versus WSJ, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Google and Facebook give different results to different people. We’re losing our commonality, we’re not even coming from the same starting point. At least in music we’ve got charts. What’s wrong with the “Billboard” one is it’s manipulated, in an era of overwhelming b.s. you lead with truth. At least the Spotify streaming chart is accurate, you know what the most popular tracks in America are. And it influenced the Grammy nominations, without the Spotify chart hip-hop wouldn’t dominate. But Spotify demonstrates what people are really listening to.
Kinda like when SoundScan started twenty five years ago and it illustrated how large a market country was, before that people didn’t know.
But these are raw facts in a world where facts are abhorred, or we each have our own, or what we believe to be facts are untruths.
So the hoi-polloi are fighting. The underclass and the powerless are arguing, lobbing bombs from their own bunkers. But above them lives an elite that is completely out of touch. This is how the “New York Times” missed Trump, essentially all the media and insiders, even the right wing outlets did not expect him to win, because they had little to no contact with the actual voters.
It’s a mess.
But the elite camp is all nice and friendly. There’s decorum, there are rules.
And then John Oliver starts shooting at Dustin Hoffman.
It’s always artists who lead, always. That’s the essence of being one, taking risks. And since they have followers, what they do gains attention. If someone other than Oliver, a traditional newsperson, confronted Hoffman, we wouldn’t hear much about it.
But no conventional newsperson would. It takes an outsider to become an outlier.
Personally, I’m shocked. This is kinda like the sixties. Where your heroes take positions and act in a way you’re not fully comfortable with. What youngsters today do not understand is most people were for the Vietnam War before they were against it. It’s these artists and the leaders they dragged along who convinced us to change our opinions.
Similarly, there’s this inane position posited today that we can remove ourselves from the world economy and achieve greatness. Feels good, like the U.S. can defeat any enemy, it’s just patently wrong.
And once Oliver opens the floodgates, everybody else pours through. Suddenly, it’s open season to confront bad actors, untruths. He did it, now you can. The civility employed previously is out the window. Because we refuse to condone bad behavior and we refuse to allow perpetration of untruths. Furthermore, you have to back up what you stand for, which is where facts come in.
So America will become unified when artists take a stand for truth, they’re the last bastion of the American way. Comedians walk the line every day, they can take the heat. Too many other so-called “artists” are so worried about crossing the line that they don’t. Credit the elimination of arts programs in schools. You see a Jackson Pollock painting and you ask yourself where it came from, what inspired him to forgo painting people and start dripping paint. Actually, that’s why Picasso is so famous. It’s not just the pictures, it’s where they’re coming from.
Where do you come from? Are you proud of your ignorance, are you proud you take a stand and don’t change it?
We’ve got some hard questions coming down the pike. Regarding sexual harassment, are you now guilty until proven innocent? Can you be rehabilitated? I’m not saying these guys didn’t do it and shouldn’t be punished for it, just that now that we’ve broken down doors, we need to have a set of rules to proceed.
We’ve been marching without a set of rules for twenty years, since the internet took hold. Google said it was benign, Facebook was allowing us all to connect, but we ultimately found out these entities had more power than any previously. That letting them run willy-nilly in a capitalist way hurt our culture. How much regulation is appropriate? I don’t know, like I said, these are hard questions, which we’re trying to investigate and answer, and all we hear is they’re out to get Trump. I’m far less worried that Trump stays in office/gets away with it than truth is eviscerated online.
We keep hearing about AI, how machines will save us. But the truth is it all comes down to humans. Mark Zuckerberg pursued profits until he might have changed election results.
But then John Oliver comes along and there’s a reset. Anderson Cooper too.
What is truth. Do we ignore it, do we fight it, do we expose falsehood?
Those are the questions we’re asking now.
And we are because one person was willing to cross the line and make a celebrity feel uncomfortable.
Be sure to ask the hard questions and make people feel uncomfortable today.