SATURDAY, MARCH 20, 2021
Hesse don't need no facts: We start today with an observation about Tucker Carlson Tonight.
Our observation is connected to something we (liberal) denizens of Our Town may not know about ourselves.
Our observation would be this:
Carlson often starts his Fox News program with some perfectly reasonable point.
He'll frequently blow his point wildly out of proportion. He will frequently overstate or disappear basic facts.
But in its essence, his point will be perfectly valid. He doesn't need to toy with his facts.
Our observation gets worse. Quite often, Carlson starts with a perfectly valid point about The Crazy which exists right here in the streets of Our Town.
We liberals! It's hard for us to spot The Crazy which exists right here in Our Town. Our Town's dogmas have always held that we the liberals are the very smart people—that The Dummies are all Over There.
Here in Our Town, we've heard that twaddle since the day we were born, and we're strongly inclined to believe it. It's hard for us to see how absurd our conduct frequently seems to be. Also, our self-impressed proclamations.
Much as it is in other towns, it's frequently hard for us to see who we actually are. For better or worse, it isn't always especially hard for Others to see who we are.
Our ridiculous conduct often gives Carlson an easy place to start. Quite frequently, he'll overstate his case or tilt his facts, but there's no reason why he has to.
Here in Our Town, we've increasingly fallen under the thrall of the assistant, associate and adjunct professors. They've come to us with various elements of their "critical theory."
We're too dumb to see how amazingly dumb quite a few of their precepts are.
We're too dumb, but also too self-impressed. We've told ourselves that we're super-smart. We're so dumb that we've come to believe it.
The signature dumbness of Our Town has been on display this week. As we noted yesterday, a letter to the New York Times captured one part of this tribal dumbness. Here's what we read in the Times:
The media and crime investigators need to stop waiting for evidence of a racially motivated attack and address it as it is. What happened on Tuesday was a mass murder, a crime against the Asian-American community, toxic gender violence and violence stemming from white supremacy.
"The media need to stop waiting for evidence!" Investigators need to stop too!
Granted, that statement came from a letter to the Times, not from the Times itself. A person could even claim that we've made an insensitive edit.
But the New York Times chose to publish the letter, and that prescription summarized an attitude which was being widely displayed on cable news and elsewhere within Our Town:
We don't need to no stinking evidence! We already know what we saw!
This morning's Washington Post adds a second, related nostrum. This nostrum is found in Monica Hesse's second column about the Atlanta killings.
Her column today is full of sarcasm. The headlines above it say this:
In print editions: The shooter cliches I never want to see again
Online: Things I do not ever need to hear or read about a shooter again
The things she doesn't ever need to hear or read again! Borrowing from the popular culture, Hesse is telling us this today, and yes it's related to yesterday's letter:
Monica Hesse don't need no stinking facts!
In fairness, let's be fair. If you're willing to bend way over backwards, you can defend most or all of the various things Hesse says today.
You can create a technical defense of Hesse's various demands and requests. Of course, if you're willing to squint hard enough when you look at an artist's rendering of Sasquatch, you can think you're looking at a photograph of Marilyn Monroe or Denzel—or maybe even George Clooney!
Hesse goes on and on in her column, listing the various kinds of facts she's doesn't want to hear. As with yesterday's tetter, so too here:
We're being told that we want one thing. We went to hear the preapproved stories we very much prefer.
We want to hear our preferred Storylines. We want to hear nothing else.
Let's say it again! If you try extremely hard, you can imaginably defend most of what Hesse says. But you'd better be prepared to work extremely hard.
Hesse's column captures a certain drift which has come to prevail in Our Town. We want to hear our preapproved stories. And we want to hear them in perfect form, in precisely the form that we like.
It's easy for Tucker to mock such work. It takes no effort at all.
But this is who we've increasingly become in Our Town. In our tribal frustration, we're inclined to be very, very dumb. Also, we're completely unable to see this about ourselves.
Also, consider this:
Ann Hornaday, the Post's film critic, writes today about issues of diversity and inclusion. We share that point of concern.
We recently watched Kenneth Branagh's Cinderella for the first time. We loved its beautiful visuals, its brisk storytelling, its humorous take on the two stepsisters, its extremely positive values.
We liked all that, but good grief! Especially for a film which appeared in 2015, we were amazed by the (near-total) lack diversity in the kingdom Branagh imagined and created.
Hornaday's column concerns such issues. At one point, she quotes a certain type of thinking which is quite common here in Our Town:
HORNADAY (3/20/21): For those who have been advocating for inclusion on screen and behind the scenes, how will success be recognized and measured? And will hitting any numerical goal be enough?
Madeline Di Nonno, president and CEO of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, believes that numbers have their place. When the institute—which focuses on on-screen representation of women and underrepresented groups—does its research, she says, “we measure against the population as a baseline,” using demographic statistics regarding the LGBTQ population and people with disabilities, for example. But “fiction should at least meet the baseline,” she notes, “and then go way beyond. People of color in the United States are 38 percent of the population. [But] we’re looking at talent. We’re looking at opportunities. And opportunities should be given to talented people and not, ‘Well, we now have 38 percent directors who are people of color, we can stop.’ Absolutely not.”
You can perhaps defend what Di Nonno says there—but it's much easier to mock it.
According to Di Nonno, Hollywood films shouldn't include a proportional number of directors (and actors) who are people of color. For some reason, Hollywood films should go "way beyond" that!
That statement is extremely easy to mock. At the end of the day, the statement is basically dumb, but it's very much the way we tend to think and talk in Our Town..
That statement begs for satirization. Over on the Fox News Channel, Tucker's prepared to serve.
Anyone can understand the way that statement looks to Others. Correction: Everyone can understand that basic point except us!
This is the way we've come to be here in the self-impressed streets of Our Town. We're very dumb and remarkably clueless, and this basic cultural problem seems to be getting worse.
Please don't believe the accusers: How dumb can we be in our self-impressed town? Consider this news report in today's New York Times.
In Houston, seven women (so far) have brought civil lawsuits against DeShaun Watson, alleging that he engaged in sexual misconduct while receiving massages.
Watson is the star quarterback of the Houston Texans. Today's report about these lawsuits appears in the Times' sports section.
This news report might have seemed a bit over the top during the Mad Men era. The report goes on and on, then on and on, about how "audacious" the lawyer representing these women is.
(Paragraph 2: "The accusations have been broadcast by an audacious personal injury attorney who has little or no history with such cases and who has used Instagram and Facebook to solicit potential clients.")
On and on the reporters go, discussing the "outsize life" led by the accusers' "showy" lawyer:
We learn about his "reputation for bluster and, depending on one’s view, grandstanding." With respect to the "outsize life" this lawyer leads, we learn that his office is on the 73rd floor of Houston's tallest building.
We learn about the way he behaved thirty years ago when he was a law student. Also, he drive a Ferrari! His "very public approach to soliciting clients" is rather casually frisked.
We have no way of evaluating the claims made by these seven women. We can evaluate the Times' news report—we'll guess it would have seemed to be a bit much during a Mad Men episode.
Here in Our Town, we tend to assume that we get the straight dope from the Times. "Who's being naive now, Kay?"
The news report's byline names two reporters. We'll even guess that an editor may have glanced at it too!