The MAGA Trolls Have Met Their Match In Sacha Baron Cohen And "Who Is America?"
Any resemblance Who Is America’s tactics bear to the pro-Trump media apparatus only makes the outrage from the Roy Moores and Sarah Palins of the world more comedically sweet. Like any good troll, Baron Cohen knows how to checkmate his subject so that he or she looks foolish regardless of the outcome. Admit you’ve been duped — as some, like former representative Joe Walsh, have done — and you’re gullible and ashamed; protest and you’re a poor sport or a hypocrite. Either way, Baron Cohen wins.
It’s a cynical view that — much like the show — isn’t very comfortable to sit with for very long. But that sinking feeling is very much the point. Baron Cohen is a worthy adversary for the most disingenuous in our politics and culture. He pits bad faith against bad faith and the result is something that seems like the truth — but it isn’t easy to watch. And somehow, that feels fitting for our current moment.
Such are the risks of the new media playing field, which may look level from afar, but still tilts toward the powerful. As social media has knocked down barriers between stars and their faithful (or their critics), direct communication among the uber-famous and practically anonymous has become the norm. But while mutual praise can cause both sides to feel warm and tingly, more charged interactions can leave those who have earned a star’s ire, like Ms. Thompson, reeling as eager followers take up the celebrity’s cause.
“Her fans mimic her behavior,” Ms. Thompson said of Ms. Minaj, who responded to her critique after some of the rapper’s 21 million followers brought the initial tweet to the attention of their queen.
On the evening of June 22, 21-year-old Karter Machen decided to tweet.
“I’m not a party guy,” he wrote, “but I’d be down if someone threw a real roaring 20’s party for 2020. Like real tuxedos and all. Not shirtless dudes with a bow tie. Like a real Gatsby party with everyone fully dressed like the era.”
Which, OK, sure. It’s a fairly benign tweet as far as tweets go, and it’s easy to imagine scrolling past it in your feed, puzzling for a moment over “shirtless dudes with a bow tie” and then immediately moving on with your life. Except, at the time of publication, this unexceptional tweet has been retweeted over 83,000 times and faved nearly 330,000 times.
I could not even begin to fathom why.
My small business fantasy, made real by someone else.
Note: This is perhaps the most casually/lazily written article I've read in a major publication in 2018. Serious demerits for the phrase "almost jarringly pleasant," which does not describe a sensation or an idea. The editor deserves to be pilloried for that one.
It’s a strange and expensive idea that will absolutely never appeal to a wide audience. It’s kind of a bummer, even, to think about a customer who doesn’t have anybody in their life who would make them a playlist for free. But there’s also something interesting about treating music the way you might treat fine art or real estate — the type of investment that’s so important, you would call in an expert to do the legwork for you. Oh is a musician, and her day job is at Nylon Studios, where she works as a music supervisor, finding the perfect track for clients that are usually major brands. Her job isn’t necessarily to enforce taste; it’s to have an enormous breadth of knowledge about what’s out there, and she says Debop operates similarly. “There are a lot of influencers and tastemakers out there,” she says, “This is not that.” It isn’t about selling people “cool,” but helping them find things they’ll actually like.
SCHRADER I’ll tell you the trick, and I figured it out years ago. It’s a three-stage trick. First stage is nonemotive narration. So it’s like intravenous feeding. You’re getting nutrition but you can’t taste it.
The next stage is the world is only as our protagonist perceives it. You see no other reality. There’s never a scene that he’s not in. So now you’re seeing his life, you’re being filled up with his thoughts and after about 45 minutes or so, you’ve identified. How could you not identify? Then, often slowly, you have to go off the rails a little bit, a little bit, a little bit. The first few times it doesn’t bother you, but then all of a sudden [you’re] saying whoa, I’m identified with somebody that I don’t think is worthy of identification. What do I do about that?
And that’s a great place for an artist to take a viewer because you can’t predict how people will respond when they’re opened up that way; they’re going to have to do something to defend themselves. Here’s how you can defend yourself: Just take a jump, you know.
He imagined two major traits of totalitarian societies: one is lying, and the other is what he called schizophrenia. He wrote, “The organized lying practiced by totalitarian states is not, as it is sometimes claimed, a temporary expedient of the same nature as military deception. It is something integral to totalitarianism, something that would still continue even if concentration camps and secret police forces had ceased to be necessary.” The lying entailed constantly rewriting the past to accommodate the present. “This kind of thing happens everywhere,” he wrote, “but is clearly likelier to lead to outright falsification in societies where only one opinion is permissible at any given moment. Totalitarianism demands, in fact, the continuous alteration of the past, and in the long run probably demands a disbelief in the very existence of objective truth.”
He goes on to imagine that “a totalitarian society which succeeded in perpetuating itself would probably set up a schizophrenic system of thought, in which the laws of common sense held good in everyday life and in certain exact sciences, but could be disregarded by the politician, the historian, and the sociologist.”
It was still a yuppie concert with food trucks and classy canned wine; there wasn’t even a pit, just lines of chairs for the slightly more well-heeled. Yet to the side of the stage, in the margins of grass where you could still see Case clearly, the die-hards collected. They were mostly women, and they looked at Case with something like a loving ache. They were alone and in pairs; regardless of age, they looked nothing like women in Primeran ads.
Schrader’s film is a wise, shocking, intellectually prodigious masterpiece. It’s a classic Schrader slow burn that seems to reach, in its final moments, for the impossible. For rapture, if that’s even what you’d call it. And then the film ends—snuffed out mid-breath. Good luck catching yours.
Later, Sarandos cites IMDb again as evidence for the success of one of Netflix’s original movies, the teen-targeted romantic comedy The Kissing Booth. Sarandos calls it “one of the most-watched movies in the country, and maybe in the world” — but of course he won’t offer me any internal data to back that up. “In [IMDb’s] popularity rankings right now, it’s the No. 4 movie behind Deadpool 2, Avengers: Infinity War, and Solo,” he says. “Jacob Elordi is the male lead. Three weeks ago on the IMDb Star-o-Meter, which is how they rank their popularity, he was No. 25,000. Today he is the No. 1 star in the world. And Joey King, the female lead, went from like No. 17,000 to No. 6. This is a movie that I bet you’d never heard of until I just mentioned it to you.” Sarandos’s point: Because reporters like me don’t have ratings or box-office numbers, we’re too quick to listen to rivals who claim stuff on Netflix is getting lost. “This is the competitive message you hear out of a couple of different networks and studios all the time. It is so wrong,” he says.
Bruni is far from alone in smarmily crying out THIS IS WHY TRUMP WON! every time a liberal gets angry about something they ought to be angry about. It is the laziest, stupidest theory, one that posits that the only possible way to take down Trump from his evildoing is to keep your voice so quiet that everyone else can opt out of hearing it. It’s also a clear case of naked pandering from newspapers that skew liberal but still yearn—whether for financial reasons or out of sheer vanity—to appear fair to both sides. This is how you end up with two sets of rules for each party. Republicans can be openly racist, nationalist, corrupt, and horny. Democrats have to be GOOD, because Americans apparently crave goodness even though 60 million of them voted for Donald Trump.
On the morning of the Intel meeting, Vice employees were instructed to get to the office early, to bring friends with laptops to circulate in and out of the new space, and to “be yourselves, but 40 percent less yourselves,” which meant looking like the hip 20-somethings they were but in a way that wouldn’t scare off a marketing executive. A few employees put on a photo shoot in a ground-floor studio as the Intel executives walked by. “Shane’s strategy was, ‘I’m not gonna tell them we own the studio, but I’m not gonna tell them we don’t,’ ” one former employee says. That night, Smith took the marketers to dinner, then to a bar where Vice employees had been told to assemble for a party. When Smith arrived, just ahead of the Intel employees, he walked up behind multiple Vice employees and whispered into their ears, “Dance.”
Moreover, if television’s finest-ever hour—the gloriously deranged and transgressive third season of Twin Peaks—threw down any sort of gauntlet in 2017, it was one issuing a mandate for moving images that challenge audiences, leaving them talking and thinking and tweeting and dreaming, days and weeks and months later.
If I could buy stock in people Googling "blowpokes" and getting lost in Wikipedia's summary of the "Owl Theory" over the next month, I'd put all my money down.
I assumed that the owl theory would be covered in these new episodes, but it wasn’t really mentioned. How much thought did you give to the theory that Kathleen’s injuries were the result of an animal attack?
DR: Zero, because the first time it ever crossed my consciousness was a day or two before my closing argument. Even if I was willing to come in after six months of saying it was a fall and say, “Sorry folks, it wasn’t a fall, it was an owl that first caused these wounds,” I couldn’t do that because there was no evidence of that in the trial. In the closing argument, you’re limited to evidence that’s been presented at trial. When you step back and really start getting familiar with the fact that there have been literally scores if not hundreds of documented instances of owls attacking the heads of people … and you look at the wounds and you compare them with the talons of an owl, it starts having some real credibility.
When Mr. Peterson comes down the line shaking hands, the crowd cheers in a way that is not normal for a book tour. He is wearing a new three-piece suit, shiny and brown with wide lapels with a decorative silver flourish.
It is evocative of imagery from a hundred years ago. That’s the point. His speech too is from another era — stilted, with old-timey phrases, a hypnotic rhythm. It’s a vocal tactic he came to only recently. Videos from a few years ago have him speaking and dressing in a more modern way.
I ask him about the retro clothes and phrases. He calls it his prairie populism.
“That’s what happens when you rescue your father from the belly of the whale,” he says. “You rediscover your tradition.”
Bourdain of course didn’t love every movie—as evinced by his perhaps cruel (but random and, at the time, hilarious) “Fuck BABY DRIVER” tweet from last year. More often, however, the cinema he loved was a source of inspiration. The Emmy and Peabody-winning Parts Unknown was a ravishing display of his tastes. Season 4’s “Shanghai” episode was inspired by Wong Kar-wai’s visually sumptuous Hong Kong romance In the Mood for Love, a touchstone of 21st-century style. The “Paraguay” episode takes after The Limey, Steven Soderbergh’s hazy, cool, and somewhat obscure L.A. noir from 1999, starring Terence Stamp. Thailand got the City of Ghosts treatment—a deep cut for those of us who didn’t know Matt Dillon once directed a James Caan movie about a con artist, set in Cambodia.
“Finding the really hard ones is so awesome,” says Lucas, a young teenage Bird charger in L.A. who didn’t want his last name or his age listed since he technically hunts under his parents’ account. “It’s become a big trend at my high school. People are like, ‘Oh are you gonna charge tonight?’ I have friends send me Snapchats like, ‘I just got 18 in one night!’ or, ‘Look where I found this one.’ There’s definitely a sense of achievement in picking a lot of them up.”
But ye responds petulantly and exclusively to reactions deliberately provoked by West himself, the kind of thing you’d expect from a YouTube celebrity whose last name is Paul. It’s as if he’d completely forgotten the music was the reason we loved him in the first place. “Yeezy Yeezy trolling OD, ha!/Turn TMZ to Smack DVD, ha!” he scoffs in an anesthetized Juvenile flow on the aptly-named “Yikes.” He is referring to his recent visit to the gossip site’s headquarters, where he was duly humiliated by a newsroom employee after suggesting slaves should have simply emancipated themselves and invoking the right-wing dog whistle of black-on-black crime in his hometown of Chicago. Somehow, still, he sounds proud. “Yikes” offers no further insight into West’s beliefs because there is not much more to say. Instead, he flips Russell Simmons’ rape allegations into a cringey #MeToo punchline; his conclusion is relief that it isn’t him in the hot seat. “Wouldn’t Leave”—a minimalist re-conjuring of The Old Kanye where Young Thug, PARTYNEXTDOOR, and Ty Dolla $ign’s voices melt into one—presents a telling glimpse into the Kardashian-Wests’ psyches. “She told you not to do that shit/She told you you was gonna fuck the money up,” West casually reminds himself on the outro, presenting the past month’s careless fuckery as a quirky tale of how boys will be boys while exposing the foul inner mechanics of brand management.
It’s unfair to view the unbridled id of anonymous tweets as an accurate representation of a user’s real worldview, but patterns emerge when one combs through thousands of their replies, retweets, and likes. Along with the smear campaigns and disclosures of information, the owner of these accounts, on occasion, voices opinions about social issues that an NBA executive would hesitate to share publicly.
Bryan Colangelo is not a particularly vocal front office executive. He doesn’t regularly appear on sports radio or podcasts, or give routine updates about the state of the team, like some of his peers—Danny Ainge, Daryl Morey, and Rob Pelinka, to name just a few. This is ironic, considering one of the main criticisms of Colangelo’s predecessor, Hinkie, was that he was too poker-faced in his dealings with the fans and media.
This kind of situation would have been unthinkable 15 years ago. But as we see repeatedly, in cases of social media faux pas and fiascos, the internet affords a certain level of anonymity, but can also be the tool that undoes that very sense of privacy. These accounts could exist only in the fog of 2018, when the line between personal and public, private and anonymous, authentic and unreal is vanishingly thin.
It’s harder as you get older. When I was a kid and visited New York I was in awe of the Empire State Building. Now it looks like a big piece of shit to me. No, I’m kidding. It’s beautiful. But as a late-night host, you have reverence for upperclassmen, contempt for yourself, and then anyone that follows you, it’s like asking Lauren Bacall, “Don’t you think that that 21-year-old bombshell is hot?” I’m over here with a long cigarette ash going, “That goddamn bitch!” But that’s not who I want to be. I have reverence for anyone who makes the form their own. And I have reverence for that because late-night talk shows are a uniquely American art form. Yes, fuck it; I’m saying that late-night talk shows are an art form. “When done correctly,” said the snide O’Brien in between sips of fine wine and Diet Coke.
"I said, 'You know, that is getting tired. Why are you doing this? You're doing it over and over. It's boring and it's time to end that,'" Stahl said on stage alongside "PBS Newshour anchor Judy Woodruff.
"He said, 'You know why I do it? I do it to discredit you all and demean you all so when you write negative stories about me, no one will believe you.' He said that," Stahl told the audience, adding, "So, put that in your head for a minute."
The audience, and Stahl's fellow panellist Woodruff did take a moment to process the remarks.
"We're all absorbing what you just said," Woodruff said in reaction.
Latour’s point was that critique had run out of steam because we were witnessing its bad faith co-option by political forces intent on muddying the difference between the true and the false, on questioning the premise of what was called, in another context, “the reality-based community.” The critique of hypocrisy has run out of steam for a similar reason. The higher and shared moral principles on which the critique of hypocrisy rests are wielded by bad faith actors who do not themselves share the principles.
Martha Brockenbrough, founder of the Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar, said that the president’s disregard for standard English plays into the public persona he has created for himself that he’s a man of the people, despite his billions.
“Grammatical conventions tend to be elitist and always have been,” said Brockenbrough. “The lack of regard for it, and the fact that he’s now having American tax dollars fund people to ape his style, is meant to poke people like you and me in the eye — people for whom language matters.”
Our experiences have always been algorithmic, if not previously driven by an actual algorithm. Sometimes it seems wrong to speak of some kind of lost originality or authenticity, as if life before Facebook were wholly innocent, non-formulaic, pure — tasteful. Taste has always been and always will be derivative, hierarchical, and shallow, but also vital.
What Kanye West seeks is what Michael Jackson sought—liberation from the dictates of that we. In his visit with West, the rapper T.I. was stunned to find that West, despite his endorsement of Trump, had never heard of the travel ban. “He don’t know the things that we know because he’s removed himself from society to a point where it don’t reach him,” T.I. said. West calls his struggle the right to be a “free thinker,” and he is, indeed, championing a kind of freedom—a white freedom, freedom without consequence, freedom without criticism, freedom to be proud and ignorant; freedom to profit off a people in one moment and abandon them in the next; a Stand Your Ground freedom, freedom without responsibility, without hard memory; a Monticello without slavery, a Confederate freedom, the freedom of John C. Calhoun, not the freedom of Harriet Tubman, which calls you to risk your own; not the freedom of Nat Turner, which calls you to give even more, but a conqueror’s freedom, freedom of the strong built on antipathy or indifference to the weak, the freedom of rape buttons, pussy grabbers, and fuck you anyway, bitch; freedom of oil and invisible wars, the freedom of suburbs drawn with red lines, the white freedom of Calabasas.
It would be nice if those who sought to use their talents as entrée into another realm would do so with the same care which they took in their craft. But the Gods are fickle and the history of this expectation is mixed. Stevie Wonder fought apartheid. James Brown endorsed a racist Nixon. There is a Ray Lewis for every Colin Kaepernick, an O.J. Simpson for every Jim Brown, or, more poignantly, just another Jim Brown. And we suffer for this, because we are connected. Michael Jackson did not just destroy his own face, but endorsed the destruction of all those made in similar fashion.
The consequences of Kanye West’s unlettered view of America and its history are, if anything, more direct. For his fans, it is the quality of his art that ultimately matters, not his pronouncements. If his upcoming album is great, the dalliance with Trump will be prologue. If it’s bad, then it will be foreshadowing. In any case what will remain is this—West lending his imprimatur, as well as his Twitter platform of some 28 million people, to the racist rhetoric of the conservative movement. West’s thoughts are not original—the apocryphal Harriet Tubman quote and the notion that slavery was a “choice” echoes the ancient trope that slavery wasn’t that bad; the myth that blacks do not protest crime in their community is pure Giulianism; and West’s desire to “go to Charlottesville and talk to people on both sides” is an extension of Trump’s response to the catastrophe. These are not stray thoughts. They are the propaganda that justifies voter suppression, and feeds police brutality, and minimizes the murder of Heather Heyer. And Kanye West is now a mouthpiece for it.
The White House Correspondents’ Association dinner is a peculiar institution. It brings together White House correspondents, other members of the news media, and the people they cover: government employees and elected officials. (In years past, though not so much in the Trump era, it also attracted a gaggle of Hollywood celebrities.) What makes these dinners possible are fictions about civility and performance. There is a fiction that holds that journalists and their subjects can eat and socialize together and yet maintain the distance necessary to continue performing their professional roles. There is a fiction that they can laugh at one another and themselves and not take offense, that the divisions among guests are ultimately bridgeable, that all of them inhabit the same reality, and that both the humor and the objects of the humor are innocuous.
@Photo is one Instagram account that’s made it into the 100,000-plus Fuelgroup. It’s owned by Heckel, who claims it makes hundreds of dollars a week via paid mentions. @Photo is followed by some 124,000 people, and according to Heckel it owes almost all its success to Fuelgram and similar services. “The bots definitely work,” Heckel said. “@Photo went from zero followers to 100K in less than six months. Bots were instrumental in that growth.”
Bullying happens along a gradient of existing power and reiterates it. That’s the difference between bullying and a fair fight: The bully is bigger and stronger and safer, and wields those advantages over someone smaller and weaker and more vulnerable. Michelle Wolf got off some zingers at Sarah Huckabee Sanders’s expense at an ultra-exclusive social event entirely filled by people whose livelihoods Sanders holds in her hands. Beyond that, as a basic function of her job, Sanders enjoys access to the water main of American political consciousness unmatched by pretty much any living person not named Donald Trump—a privilege she uses only and entirely for the purpose of pumping poison into it, aided by a healthy plurality of the people in that room but not by Michelle Wolf. I doubt there is a forum in existence in which Wolf could do anything that would qualify as “bullying” the press secretary of the President of the United States, but even if there is, the fucking White House Correspondents’ Dinner isn’t it.
I will conclude with something Steve Bannon put to the author Michael Lewis earlier this year. “The Democrats don’t matter,” Bannon said. “The real opposition is the media. And the way to deal with them is to flood the zone with shit.” To this kind of provocation, Marty Baron, editor of The Washington Post, has a succinct reply: “We’re not at war, we’re at work.” I think our top journalists are correct that if they become the political opposition to Trump, they will lose. And yet, they have to go to war against a political style in which power gets to write its own story.
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To all of which I say: Who cares? It’s a little too tempting to dunk on Lil Xan and his Xanarchy crew—one member of which you may know for the Anne Frank tattoo covering the right half of his face, affectionately dubbed “Xan Frank”—for reasons that might reveal more about the listener’s false hopes as to what this stuff is supposed to be, and for whom, than what it actually is. And yes, this is a young man named after a prescription tranquilizer who makes sold-out theaters chant “I like lean, I like drugs, I like beans, I got plugs”; yes, he looks like a streetwear-swaddled cherub fallen out of heaven and directly upon hard times.
How are we meant to feel about art that we both love and oppose? What if we are in the unusual position of having helped create it? Erasing history is a dangerous road when it comes to art—change is essential, but so, too, is remembering the past, in all of its transgression and barbarism, so that we may properly gauge how far we have come, and also how far we still need to go.
When Sean Baker started work on The Florida Project, he intended from the get-go to shoot on 35: not just because he loves it or because “I didn’t want to become ‘the iPhone guy'” (after Tangerine), or just because “I was trying to capture a very particular beauty that I felt like I just could not find digitally.” Baker is the only person in this round-up to cite preservation issues as a factor: “We’re going to have issues with digital films, at least the ones that haven’t been film out-ed. With Tangerine, Starlet and Prince of Broadway, I’m still dealing with those issues […] There’s no studio for any of those films, and I’m basically the person who’s solely responsible for their long lives. It seems like it’s an endless thing, but I’m constantly spinning drives. I’m making sure all of my masters are backed up properly, and that there’s redundancy everywhere on two different coasts. I have [them backed up on] LTOs, and still I feel it’s not enough. I just lost a mezzanine file of Starlet the other day — a top-quality, uncompressed QuickTime of the film with all of the properly broken-down 5.1 audio tracks. That drive stopped spinning. So, now I have to go back to my LTOs. I just want to get these films all transferred to 35mm and give them to the Library of Congress and be like, ‘That’s it.’ So, this is something I didn’t want to deal with again with Florida.”
It is safe to assume that the original idea behind Twitter was not to create an unprofitable social-networking platform that drives people insane. The original idea, which was also the original idea behind Pop Tarts and Advil and the Scrubbing Bubbles family of household cleaning products, was to create something that would become popular enough to make money. But the ostensible value proposition for Twitter, back when people still believed that such a thing could be said to exist, was that it would bring people together. People were most definitely brought together, and then they more or less immediately began trying to sell each other bogus health supplements and sending each other unsolicited nudes and threatening in credible ways to kidnap each others’ pets. The human capacity to create things has long outstripped the human capacity to actually cope with those creations, and the story of human history is at least in part the story of people trying to figure out how to live with—or at least not die from—all the dumb and dangerous miracles we’ve made.
“Twitter works like a giant, depressed brain,” web designer Mike Monteiro wrote recently. “It can’t tell right from wrong, and it can’t tell big from small.” Every issue, be it presidential corruption, celebrity gossip, or a normal person no one has ever heard of saying the wrong thing, is presented as the same size. They descend down our screen like spaceships in the old Space Invaders video game and our only weapon is a laser cannon. Boom! Fuck you! Boom! You suck! Boom! Nice take, moron. Explode those motherfuckers.
Trump also had a different relationship with Hicks than he did with his children, who keep what the source called “ironic distance” from their father. “He knows that Ivanka has a separate agenda. Ivanka refers to him as ‘DJT’ just like the boys do, and Ivanka understands that her father is gonna be dead in ten years.”
When the Times opinion page pretends that conservatism is David Brooks or Bret Stephens when it maintains the comforting illusion that American politics is a contest of ideas, it is not exposing its readers to uncomfortable truths — it is sheltering them.
Do NYT readers — who mostly read mainstream sources, mostly live in cities, mostly are not exposed to right-wing media — understand that the most active voices on the American right today are filled with paranoid rage, hopped up on lies and conspiracy theories, unmoved by reason, and devoted to their total destruction? Do they understand that the values and norms they assume safe and sacrosanct are in fact under heavy siege? Do they know that American democracy is in danger of coming apart?
For decades, Robert Kimball, a Gershwin expert and adviser to the Ira and Leonore Gershwin Trust, dealt with Mr. Gershwin and his claims. Despite repeated prodding, he said, Mr. Gershwin had never furnished him with anything — like the manuscripts he said his father had given him — to back his story.
“His idea of ‘proof’ is picking up awards in Kankakee or Sheboygan and using these plaques he got as evidence,” Mr. Kimball said.
Nor was he at all impressed that they were doppelgängers.
“There are a lot of Jewish guys in Brooklyn today who look like that,” he said.
To Khloé Kardashian: Knowing Yves Saint Laurent, would you say that he's an important designer on the level of, say, David Bowie or Michael Jackson comparatively to fashion, or would you say that he's just a person doing his thing, feeling organic and groovy?
None of these people deserve civility. In fact, civility only serves to enable them. The fact that Trump can go party at his fucking country club on the same weekend 17 teenagers were slaughtered inside a school, and have NO ONE surrounding him say an unkind word to him, is damnable. And when Brooks cries out for “respect” for the coterie of stubborn gun owners who lap up the NRA’s propaganda, he is tacitly maneuvering to blunt the momentum of the Parkland kids who, with a welcome brashness, have kickstarted a very real and potentially effective anti-gun movement. He would like everyone to calm down. He would like everyone to think things over.
But this is not a time to calm down. Kids are fucking dead. Their friends are rightfully, and loudly, pissed about it. David Brooks has no right to tell people who are mad as hell to stop being mad as hell. He can afford to be calm and collected because he is so wealthy and sequestered that nothing truly awful can happen to him. His civility is a luxury. He only wants to talk about this shit in civilized terms because he lives a civilized life. His words are those of a man whose foremost experiences in life have happened inside his own rectum. He deserves to have his ass dragged every time someone hits PUBLISH on his behalf.
To walk around Costco as a childless, unattached person is to experience the fragility of your existence. To perk up at the reasonably priced Angus steaks only to realize they are not sold in quantities fewer than eight and think, Well, I guess if I ate one steak a day for a week plus an extra on Sunday, is to realize the promise of decay. Costco is a place for families, or else individuals of family-sized needs: restaurateurs, corporate picnic planners, fraternity brothers, older couples who eat the same five foods with pious regularity, the clinically depressed who subsist on bulk bags of pretzels and Craisins and little else. It is for ambitious appetites and pathological fears. It is for a scarcity that is anticipated but never realized. The Costco I know, my Costco, is for families.
Were there any rock musicians you thought were good?
I used to like Clapton’s band. What were they called?
Yeah, they could play. But you know who sings and plays just like Hendrix?
Stop it. The Microsoft guy?
Yeah, man. I went on a trip on his yacht, and he had David Crosby, Joe Walsh, Sean Lennon — all those crazy motherfuckers. Then on the last two days, Stevie Wonder came on with his band and made Paul come up and play with him — he’s good, man.
Private waste disposal in New York is the 5th-deadliest job in America.
After three years on the job, Caban was marked from head to toe. He had a deep scar on his left leg (stitches after glass in a bag sliced open his calf). On his right leg, there was crosshatching below his kneecap (more glass), and below that another scar from the time he missed when jumping onto the back of a Viking Sanitation garbage truck as it hurriedly pulled away (a jump he might have landed had he not been so exhausted at 5 a.m.). Then there was the deep indent on the left side of his head “about four inches behind what used to be my hairline,” Caban explained: A winch once slipped off a Viking container and smashed open his skull. Perhaps the most gruesome injury was from November 2013, when another Viking worker moved a container at just the wrong moment, crushing his hand. That night, he lost the tip of his right index finger.
He was like, “I donate to all these charities and I would never donate to any charity that helps sharks. I hope all the sharks die.”
Everyone around Donald Trump is too polite to Donald Trump. Democrats, foreign dignitaries, underlings… all of them. And the White House press is perhaps the worst offender. From the media pool playing along with Sarah Sanders during press conferences—conferences where Sanders openly lies and pisses on democracy—to access merchants like Maggie Haberman doling out Trump gossip like so many bread crumbs, too many reporters have been far too deferential to an administration that is brazenly racist, dysfunctional, and corrupt. And for what purpose? It’s clear to me that Haberman and the like aren’t saving up their chits for just the EXACT right time to bring this Administration down. No, the only end goal of their access is continued access, to preserve it indefinitely so that the copy spigot never gets shut off. They are abiding by traditional wink-wink understandings that have long existed between the government and the press covering it.
But Wolff didn’t do that. He did not engage in some endless bullshit access tango. No, Wolff actually USED his access, and extended zero courtesy to Trump on the process, and it’s going to pay off for him not just from a book sales standpoint, but from a real journalistic impact. I am utterly sick to death of hearing anonymous reports about people inside the White House “concerned” about the madman currently in charge of everything. These people don’t deserve the courtesy of discretion. They don’t deserve to dictate the terms of coverage to people. They deserve to be torched.
To reiterate: that quote is about a middle-aged coffee guy.
“I think he watched too many Guns and Roses road documentaries. That type of lifestyle just doesn’t happen,” Schrader said. “It was a misunderstanding of the employee-manager dynamic.”
Tayler Mehit, a former employee who worked for Four Barrel between May 2013 and April 2017, said the company’s reputation was common knowledge within the industry. “Other folks within specialty coffee companies certainly know about Jeremy and the general sexist atmosphere at Four Barrel.”
In 2017, political grifters, trolls, and hackers took advantage of algorithmic flaws and moderator complacency to wage elaborate social influence campaigns. Across chat platforms like Discord, teenagers and pro-Trump supporters plotted and executed elaborate trolling campaigns against media outlets and anti-Trumpers, creating caustic hashtags and bespoke shock memes. And politically minded engineers like Microchip, a pro-Trump figure who's notorious on Twitter, orchestrated automated networks of Twitter accounts to help push trending topics and advance narratives. A new media narrative emerged: Our online reality was being gamed and manipulated by nefarious bots — part of what the New York Times called a “terrifying scourge on democracy.” Still, the Great Bot Crisis paled in comparison to the human media machine — operated by a new class of vocal, influential, and controversial Twitter pundits — bent on pushing a pro-Trump narrative and trolling its opponents at all costs.
They’ll be putting out nearly two new movies a week next year.
And I see a movie a night, so it’s perfect.
You’re their target audience!
I’ll be there, 1 o’clock in the morning … click. It’s a bedtime story! I love the advent of Netflix and what it means to people like me. It suits me down to the ground. I’d love to do a ten-hour mini-series myself, personally. [David] Fincher’s got the best show on the air right now.
Yeah. Fincher’s a bit like me, very anal, compulsive. But he’s very good, and that proves that audiences want good. They don’t want shit; they want good.
Errol Morris, writing in The New Yorker, in appreciation of NATHAN FOR YOU.
Before Fielder became a professional comedian, he graduated from a Canadian business school. In a typical “Nathan for You” episode, he plays (is?) a consultant helping to save failing businesses, except that his fixes always involve excursions into Swiftian absurdity. How can a struggling café get around a Starbucks copyright? Turn it into a parody of Starbucks. How can a hotel owner attract vacationing families? Introduce a soundproof box where children can go while their parents have sex. It could be argued that many of Fielder’s attempts are mean-spirited. It is unclear whether he has really helped or done harm by, say, staging a viral video for a petting zoo that helps promote “Nathan for You” but makes little or no reference to the zoo itself. This has been a “problem” with “Nathan for You.” This feeling of discomfort. Should I be watching this? Does it make me into a less-nice person? What are Nathan’s intentions? Fielder will stop at nothing. No barrier of good taste, no fear of the irrational, no prohibitions against the ridiculous. What makes “Nathan for You” so heretical is that all of his projects are based on misrepresentation and lying; and yet, not accidentally, they capture something of the essence of American business.
Everyone knows that George Clooney is literally the perfect movie star. He’s charming, sexy, and talented…and did we say sexy? Here are seven of the many reasons why George Clooney is the greatest Hollywood star ever, although if he ever says anything racist, use the sliders to turn this list into seven reasons why George Clooney is a repulsive piece of shit who needs to crawl into the ocean and die.
Now, 10 years later, polarized Americans claw at each other to prove that the other side doesn't have the right information, destroying friendships and the fabric of our polity in the process. We live in Halperin's world, where we presume there is an inside to which a wise person must gain access in order to have anything to understand or to say. This is the antithesis of a democratic, free, and equal society. In truth, Halperin's purported "inside" only ever consisted of one person: Halperin himself.
When we take complaints about “PC culture” or “identity politics” at face value, we open up space for grievances about “white interests,” whether we want to or not. For years, fringe groups have embraced these victimhood ideas, and now those ideas are part of the mainstream discourse — despite the many documented disadvantages experienced by women and racial minorities.
At the intersection of novelty and victimhood, we find stories of Nazis going to Panera, their ideas largely stripped of history and context. Much has been said about the “normalization” of such ideas — that by portraying Nazis as average, even sympathetic, people, journalists run the risk of helping to integrate violent ideologies into the mainstream. The thing is that violent, racist ideologies have spent lots of time in the mainstream. They’ve proven very destructive. The imperative of the moment is not just to debate about how to keep them at the margins, but to remember out loud why they belong there.