The Two Americas have split up again!


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.”

Hoo boy.

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.

Separation now, separation tomorrow. Separation forever!


  1. In our humble opinion, this is the dullest story in the world that splits up nothing.

    But of course we do agree about the eternal numbness of your liberal tribe. Yes, we agree with all of your comments to that effect and then some.

    1. ...wait, 'numbness'? Dumbness!

  2. I got a kick out of Jayden Smith tweeting "That's how we do it".

    1. That's spelled Jaden Smith.

      Can't you spend half a second to get people's names right?

    2. 4:26 as shitty as the stuff Somerby writes, you are just writing the stuff Somerby wants to convey but can not bring himself to do it officially.

      Cowards, all of you.

    3. Anonymouse6:02, it's a great comment from a 23-year-old son.

      You're going to bust an organ with all your feigned outrage.

    4. Aw, somebody is triggered.

      And child, stick that tongue back in your mouth.

  3. "Hill isn't saying that all white people have reacted the same way the two named celebrity jerk-offs did. "

    Both Judd Apatow and Howard Stern are comedians who say things that cross the line. They might be expected to come down harder on violence aimed at comedians for what they say during their performances.

  4. You can make a case, we are social beings and learn from each other by imitation. So it's worth asking if we would do what Will Smith did, or would we have another response? But you can apply this to media too, why do we all have to chase buzz? Most of us do it for free, don't even get that sweet advertising money.

  5. "We're surprised that conservatives aren't more annoyed by the endless dreck of this type which proceeds from the streets of Our Town."

    What is Somerby's evidence that conservatives are NOT annoyed by this discussion? I have seen conservative commentators who emphasize the defense of one's wife as a form of alpha dog behavior that has been lacking in our society. They are gloating about Smith's behavior. I've also seen some defense of Chris Rock coming from the right.

    Fox News is blaming will Smith for treating the Oscars like a bar or "the hood". Kind of a racist thing to say, in my opinion. Implying that conservatives don't have their own take on this is pretty ridiculous of Somerby.

  6. It strikes me as odd that Somerby would object to a Slate story about people who fake covid multiple times. This is especially a problem in the restaurant industry, where wait staff call in sick to avoid working on weekends or holidays. My hair salon owners complained that his stylists call in sick more frequently than the stats would suggest and he is required to pay them for sick time, even if it is a family member who has covid, not themselves. He suspected malingering too.

    Small businesses have concerns about this, as do the workers who do not call in sick frequently, since they must take up the slack. Somerby doesn't seem to understand or empathize with the problems involved, but editors at Slate seem to recognize that covid has brought a variety of workplace issues that people who work (as Somerby does not) will care about.

  7. I think there is probably a pretty strong correlation between being black and voting Democratic and being white and voting Republican. If there is a split, it is going to be between conservative and liberal white people, without a similar division among black people.

    I would suspect a gender division of opinion, but Somerby wouldn't find that worth considering, unless Amy Schumer has written another joke.

    I personally would not want a man to fight anyone over me. I can fight my own battles (non-violently) and would be intensely embarrassed if a man behaved like Will Smith to preserve my honor. Conservatives however, especially in the South, consider defending a woman's honor to be part of manhood and an affront against a man's wife is an affront against him personally, that must be physically defended or he cannot consider himself a man. Women sometimes are attacked as proxies for men in so-called honor cultures. And when they are sullied, their own family will disavow them because they are an embarrassment to the whole family. That's why I dislike this kind of male violence that is protective of something unrelated to the woman herself. Has anyone asked how Jada Pinkett-Smith feels about what Will did?

    Somerby doesn't see anything interesting to talk about with this event, perhaps because he doesn't consider celebrities to be people? I think it might raise some interesting points of discussion that would let our society talk about gender, toxic masculinity, and the kind of privilege that lets a man strike another in public without consequence.

    1. Anonymouse5:06pm, you must be off your game.

      There is one more asinine stereotype you could have worked into thst if you were paying attention.

    2. A white person has a dollar in their pocket, while a black person has 15 cents in their pocket.

      Conservatives do not care one whit about this. Dems do care.

      There is your two Americas.

      The American Dream has always been about making sure that while most white people are stuck as wage slaves, they will always have more than a person of color.

      Somerby thinks the Civil War ended, what a heartless moron.

    3. Anonymouse 6:10am, according the piece excerpted by Somerby your take is the opposite of many black women who liked Smith defending his wife and also from black men who are cracking jokes about the fracas; the most logical response to this silliness.

      Lay down your arms!

  8. "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 so-called two Americas are being defined by race, black and white, not by their reactions to Will Smith's assault on Chris Rock, which is being explored in the article to see whether they hold different opinions.

    If the article consisted of only the interviews with the two white comedians (Apatow & Stern), then it might be questionable in the way Somerby describes, but Hill said many more things in the article that Somerby does not describe.

    Calling this "dreck" because he does not care whether black people think differently about this incident than white people is Somerby's problem. The views of black people are not dreck, whether they agree with whites or not. Calling them that is offensive, especially given that Somerby himself has taken the time to write about this topic for two days now, and that fact undermines his stance that no one should be paying any attention to it.

    Somerby implies that the editors are forcing readers to spend time on this issue by publishing dreckish articles, but the traffic on social media (which is not driven by any editors) suggests otherwise.

    Why on earth should Somerby say that only white people's opinions matter, or should matter, to the Atlantic?

    Somerby is being an asshole again. How many times can he do that and still consider himself non-racist? How deluded is he about his own feelings about black people?

  9. And meanwhile, MSNBC prime time hosts have not once mentioned the thing that Somerby is obsessing about, the Academy Awards bullshit.

    They have been discussing more trivial items, such as the war in Ukraine, the Jan 6 investigation, and the Supreme Court nomination.

    Now, who is it who has been spending lots of time focusing on his favorite trivial distraction?

  10. The bottom line is that black people can assault and kill each other, and that seems fine, but when someone dies in a confrontation with the police, it's structural racism.So again, black lives don't matter when black people commit violent acts against each other. The "standing up for his woman" is so ghetto.

    1. Nobody has said that what Will Smith did was "fine".

    2. Perhaps not here but many have defended Smith, and Bob is saying the two are about as guilty.

  11. "The "standing up for his woman" is so ghetto."

    In general, we believe this is called "honor culture".

    Yes, you're standing up for "your womyn". But also, if, god forbid, you catch "your womyn" flirting with someone, you kill "your womyn".

  12. Does Bob really think that these two were equally offensive? That Rock is "a celebrity jerk off?"
    I would say Chris Rock did nothing wrong, that he
    made a weak joke at an event generally full of
    Bob seems to think all black people are the same.

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