WEDNESDAY, MARCH 30, 2022
So proclaims The Atlantic: Here in our self-impressed, self-assured town, there's nothing quite like a distraction. At Slate, and at The Daily Beast, they've pretty much mastered the artform:
R. ERIC THOMAS / MARCH 30, 2022 / 6:00 AM
Help! I Faked Having COVID. Twice.
That's an example from Slate.
On Sunday night, Will Smith gifted the world with the mother of all distractions. Everyone gets to talk about it. For the next however many days, no one will be required to think about anything else.
Now for a word from the people who script us:
It's especially good when pundits can tie a high-profile distraction to a high-profile preferred tribal narrative. That's the route Jemele Hill took over at The Atlantic, where the headlines on her new essay are now telling us this:
The Two Americas Debating Will Smith and Chris Rock
Black people and white people aren’t necessarily discussing the Oscars slap in the same way.
"The Two Americas" have been debating this new distraction—or at least so the headlines say. In this case, the two Americas don't seem to be red versus blue. They seem to be black and white.
Jemele Hill is a good, decent person. We used to watch her at ESPN. We read her at The Atlantic.
We'll assure you that Hill is a good, decent person. But in this case, we want you to think about the possible ways our tribe tends to throw away votes.
"The two Americas" is a sensitive subject no matter which crayons you use. According to the headlines on Hill's essay, the two Americas aren't necessarily discussing the Oscars slap in the same way—which means that they possibly are!
In that sense, that headline is analytically soft, but it carries a bolt of frisson. Here's the way Hill's actual text nails her analysis down:
HILL (3/28/22): What has developed since that unforgettable moment at the Oscars is a classic “two Americas” conversation. By that I mean: Black people and white people aren’t necessarily talking about the incident in the same way. That much was evident in the celebrity reaction. Tiffany Haddish, a Black actor and comedian who starred with Jada Pinkett Smith in the blockbuster movie Girls Trip, told People: “When I saw a Black man stand up for his wife, that meant so much to me.” To my eyes, Black commentators were more willing to joke about the incident—perhaps because, as Will Packer, the television and film megaproducer who oversaw the Oscars broadcast, tweeted after the show, “Black people have a defiant spirit of laughter when it comes to dealing with pain because there has been so much of it.”
In contrast, Judd Apatow, a director who is white, tweeted that Smith “could have killed” Rock. “That’s pure out of control rage and violence,” Apatow continued. “They’ve heard a million jokes about them in the last three decades. They are not freshman [sic] in the world of Hollywood and comedy. He lost his mind.” Apatow has since deleted this tweet.
The radio shock jock Howard Stern even went so far as to compare Smith to former President Donald Trump. “This is how Trump gets away with shit,” Stern said on his show. “Will Smith and Trump are the same guy. He decided he’s going to take matters into his own hands.”
People, let's count the black and white Americans! (Needless to say, only "the celebrity reaction" will be taken into account.)
As best we can tell, Hill has mentioned the reactions of two different black Americans, and also of two different white Americans. That creates an "N" of 4—and on the basis of that N, Hill is thrilling us with the idea that "the two Americas" may have broken up all over again.
Everyone knows that doesn't make sense—everyone except some editor who draws pay from The Atlantic. As a matter of fact, Hill also knows that it doesn't make sense! This is the way she continued:
HILL (continuing directly): I’m not saying that all Black people agree with Haddish or that all white people agree with Apatow and Stern; one poll found that, across racial lines, most Americans think Smith shouldn’t have slapped Rock. But I can’t help but notice the disproportionate outrage that many people in white America—and many in the Hollywood elite—are showing. According to The New York Post, unnamed industry insiders already are asking whether Smith’s award should be rescinded. The Academy announced that it will conduct its own investigation and “will explore further action and consequences in accordance with our Bylaws, Standards of Conduct and California law.”
Hill isn't saying that all white people have reacted the same way the two named celebrity jerk-offs did. So how does she defend the claim that "the two Americas" have split up all over again?
Simple! Based on something she read in The New York Post, an unnamed number of unnamed "industry insiders" have asked whether Smith’s Oscar should be clawed back! On the basis of that additional non-evidence evidence, The Atlantic waved this analytical dreck into print.
The moral to our story is clear:
When it comes to the pimping of mandated Storyline, it's fast sledding all the way down. Our silly tribe has reached the point where we churn out analytical dreck of this type in the way all other folk breathe.
Some editor waved the dreck into print; we tribals thrill to the tale. Out there in the middle American world, some votes may drift a bit toward Trump, who we've already managed to help get elected once.
Jemele Hill is a good decent person; we can't vouch for the hapless editor who waved this dreck into print. That said, our pundit class was handed a wonderful gift this past Sunday night—the gift of an utterly pointless unusual celebrity scuffle.
It's barely worth talking about at all. We'll discuss it all through the week.
It's even better when we can link the distraction to one of our tribe's Storylines. We will now repeat a claim we've mentioned in the past:
We're surprised that conservatives aren't more annoyed by the endless dreck of this type which proceeds from the streets of Our Town. There's nothing so dumb we won't run out and say it, just so long as it thrills us like this.
Someone faked having Covid. Twice! The Atlantic is faking division.