This New American Life
I write this in a booth waiting for my current delivery order to be prepared in an empty restaurant that ten years ago would have been crowded. The music is a soft bossa nova and the kitchen while busy is careful to avoid clangs. The decor is standard a medium brown stain colors the wood and the carpet is green and clean. A mother and her retired son are the only other customers. She is dancing while waiting for the spring rolls to arrive. The owner hands me a thai tea on the house while I wait. I can’t help but worry for the fate of America. I can’t help but wonder where do we go from here.
The internet has redefined what and why we eat. It’s less about what we like and having haunts we return to but posting from the current trends to be considered a cool kid. Even those who do not post on social media still Google and Yelp their choices based on the impression that the best rated by those apps have more value experience wise for their dollars. The hive mind that is social media causes attention inequality and narrows culture especially food culture.
Speaking of the Hive Mind. What do we talk about when we say we shouldn’t give someone a platform. As in the current uproar over Megyn Kelly interviewing Alex Jones, a man who has been paid to spew filth since my childhood. He long ago built his alternative media platform and give a place for wayward views. He helped Trump win without a doubt and his org Infowars will have white house press credentials. He doesn’t need an interview on NBC but NBC and those who oppose his views do need these kinds of interviews. Darkness cannot be allowed to fester. Pre-internet denying mainstream outlets was a good way to slow repulsive thought but now mainstream media is one if the last shared spaces in American life and is more effective as a means of exposing.
The tendency of the internet to drive conformity from food and fashion trends to preventing public discourse is disconcerting to say the least. Humanity’s story is one driven by innovation through diversity not just the kind on a college application check box. How much have we lost? What will it take next?
Practice What You Preach
It is late May, the culling time of television. The birthing season of fan petitions and thinkpieces by pedigreed “professionals” about how we watched TV wrong by not obeying their proclamations. The post-election partisanization of life has flavored this years crop. Rather than just duke it out in the trenches of Facebook. I thought I would stand on my soapbox.
First I’d like to discuss the left’s response. As exemplified by Maureen Ryan’s piece in Variety yesterday. After 8 shows that featured and/or were created by non whites/ non males, she rings the alarm: Whiteness is coming. She does note she hasn’t crunched the numbers. I will in my counter argument. Let’s begin with Fox: “Pitch” and “Rosewood”, both premiered low for broadcast (under 5 million viewers) and only went lower both failing to get more than 3 million to tune in each week. Compare to the renewed “Lethal Weapon” which brought in 6 (still low but twice as good and stars a non white lead). On Netflix- “Sense8” and “The Get Down” we don’t have viewing figures so won’t speculate there but in terms of production costs we know “The Get Down” cost over 120 mil for 12 episodes and still was terrible (on this critics will agree). Sense8 which filmed in over a dozen countries probably costed a similar amount. Thats alot for two shows that never achieved even critic darling status. On “Hulu” we have “East Los High” which is ending after 4 seasons (60 episodes) and a movie in the works. It was a low budget emmy nominated series that helped launch Hulu as a series creator. We don’t know the viewership but it was never had much buzz which is needed for a series for teens. On WGNA, “Underground” an expensive period piece that dropped from a million viewers at the beginning of season 2 to under half a million for the rest. It was cancelled because the owner of WGNA is selling the network and cancelled all of its scripted television as it pivots back to a focus on reality because viwership is down and scripted TV isn’t cheap. On MTV is “Sweet/Vicious” which had about 200k viewers on average on a network that averages around a million for a stable hit. On ABC is “American Crime” which in season 3 never got above 3 million viewers on broadcast, a sharp drop from the 8 million of the series premiere. This leads me to the grievances of the right.
The right doesn’t have many options in the 400-500 shows currently on air or streamed yet it makes up enough Americans to win the presidency and both houses of Congress. One show, they did have was “Last Man Standing” on ABC. It was the second most watched sitcom on the network (behind “Modern Family”) and averaged 8 million viewers in Season 6. This had lead to outcry from Trump supporters in particular as liberal censorship. As Tim Allen is a vocal Trumpist. In the end, It suffered from the behind the scenes money trail. It aired on ABC but was made by Fox. Part of the deal between the two companies was that Fox would cover the production costs through season 6. Now we are in Season 7 and ABC would have to foot the bill plus licensing fees to Fox for a show that has peaked. Any syndication money (its one of the few off network modern successes) goes to Fox. Thus it no longer is a money maker and the ax.
TV is a business. The shows are there to fill the space between commercials or an excuse to gig you a monthly fee. It also sells the audience. Every May is up fronts, presentations to Advertisers selling them spots based on viewership or prestige from awards. Over 50 million voted for Clinton last November, the left would have you believe that it is even bigger. Granted as I am a Clinton voter, who knows the actual number of progressives. Despite that, I do believe that the progressives are larger than the viewership of those shows. The ones I know watched none of those series. They watched the diverse shows not canceled like “The Mindy Project”, “Master of None”, “Dear White People”, and “Jessica Jones”. Viewership matters more than tweets or feelings. If more diversity is important to the left then they have to show up. I’m reminded of Frank Capra on the director’s cut: we have to show them we really care. His proposal to the studios was that a list of the ten best directors would be agreed by both sides and if a director ever messed up in editing, the union would fly in one of the ten even for a sixties sitcom to fix it on the union’s dime. Directors now have their cut. If diversity is the secret to success as claimed by progressives then they have to prove it. Make those shows, the shows to advertise on. Same goes for conservatives, a mild hit isn’t enough. There are a third of a billion people in America. You wouldn’t know that by the ratings. Be the person, you praise.
Since the beginning, America has struggled between two destinies: God and Gold. The Virginians and southern colonies birthed by Corporations and Massachusetts and it’s offshoots birthed by the Cloth. Later Slave and Free. Internal migration has shifted the strongholds as we grew and the struggle continues. In the Pax Americana, God is embodied in American Values and physical gold has become the intangible notion of Capital.
American Values have become endangered in the 21st century. The change from liberalism to neoliberalism was mostly removing the morality from the pursuit of profit. Sweat shop child labor became acceptable again for low low prices. Factory shuttering and relocation to countries where worker exploitation is still in vogue has damaged not just an American’s earning potential but our integrity. American world power is more than the number of aircraft carriers we have. It is that the international community is held to our standards and those that fall short are not rewarded. The current administration has voiced that profits are more important than human rights, the cornerstone of Americanism. This has been unspoken policy for some time.
How else can we explain American business’ dependence on China as anything other than selling out our values?
The Great Firewall blocks the truth and free speech maintained in large thanks to American companies. Google gave the Chinese government the data of dissents who are now jailed or executed. How do we explain a major arms sale to Saudi Arabia? A country that practices gender apartheid. A woman last month was detained in the Philippines while fleeing to Australia to escape a forced marriage who was beaten and tied up like a slave by the relatives sent to retrieve her. Our former territory is just as horrific under the murderer Duarte.
The American Way isn’t just a marketing phrase for comic books. It is why the Union won, why the Reich fell, and why Americans are still dying in the desert. It would be an incomprehensible tragedy for Freedom and Justice to survive the jihad to be slaughtered in the boardroom.
– E. C. Fiori
Chaffetz is stepping down.
The Trump team knew of the Flynn investigation before hiring him.
Comey kept a paper trail.
I don’t want to leap off a cliff of fancy but it isn’t hyperbole to say something is very wrong.
Chaffetz fleeing the spotlight is like canary dying. He showboated his way to the top of the DC attention heap. Backstabbing his mentors at each opening. His claim that he never planned to spent a lifetime as rep. doesn’t explain why he won’t finish his current term. His position as chairman on the House oversight committee does. Trump is too beloved by Chaffetz’s base to investigate but too hated by the general voter to ignore. Will voters remember his yellow streak in 2028? His url thinks not.
In the White House, more light is being shed. Trump’s team knew Flynn was being investigated for undisclosed payments from a foreign government when they chose him to head the National Security Council. Trump did fire Comey due to the Russian collusion investigation and told the Russians as much. Sessions who lied in his nomination hearing about meeting with the Russians is still AG, the one who ensures the President stays within the law. We do know Trump has business with Russian entities. Any Russian deals done through a shell are still unknown.
We still don’t know a great deal. We can’t say anything criminal has happened but there is enough evidence for cause to investigate. I think a rush to impeach or remove Trump would backfire. He has been the most damning witness in his own scandal. But we also can never take him at his word. You could at least trust Nixon to look out for Nixon but Trump seems to be unaware of the lines he crosses. Its like how the wall was going to be like the one from Game of Thrones magic and all but really is a chain link fence, congress won’t fund.
I think Trump is unfit and mentally inept for the standards of the presidency. He doesn’t need to be a criminal to be removed but the country would need to be united in chorus for it to happen. Rush Limbaugh changed the title from Advanced Conservative Studies to Advanced Anti-Left Studies. Our democracy has become a sport and religion. We no longer debate policy but preach to hostile converts. We don’t fight in an agreed arena and at some metaphysical level lost our American social contract. This is not a first or a last. The Civil War was the first re-negotiation. The second took place over 25 years beginning with Theodore Roosevelt’s Fair Deal finalized with FDR’s New Deal. Republicans and neo liberals since the Reagan revolution dismantled that agreement. They bring no replacement to the table.
We need to have a society. No one desires the freedom of Somaliland. Community on a large scale is a tremendous gift of humanities. It doesn’t function without effort. It may be imperfect but the cruelties can be softened. If we believe modern is defined as higher quality of life, it should go beyond. Trump is not the Emperor, he is the child. He has shown the empty state of the government and no impeachment can reverse that. People trust a government when they trust their neighbor no matter where they lie on the political spectrum.
We cannot allow foreign influence in our process of rebirth. That’s why all the current investigations not just the search for criminal evidence matter. We cannot let others define us. Trump is the lesser consequence of the Russian interference.
A common cry of the Left is that the West is experiencing a new prosperous high in wealth and quality of life. While nationally that may be the case, it comes at near historically levels of unequal distribution. Yet the Left is inactive on that subject, instead they lash out over trivial matters.
A great recent example is the Chanel boomerang. A handful tweeted against the “cultural appropriation” as if the boomerang hasn’t been mass produced for western audiences for over a century. Chanel selling or not selling the boomerang won’t change Aboriginal treatment. It won’t affect the past in any direction. In fact all so called cultural appropriation is just meaningless outrage on some level. Leftists are okay with Christ in piss and other atheist appropriation of Christian symbols. The top culture critics praise the vulgar usage as brilliant. I don’t think these works should be banned because I disagree with them. I think that if cultural appropriation didn’t occur we would have never left the dark ages. Cultures sharing and being inspired by each other creates growth and innovation. Two things our current world needs dearly.
The left’s use of social media is aimed at controlling the news cycle. It finds pop culture moments to entertain us with outrage. Chanel is a symptom not a cause of inequality in America. It allows the super rich to be on “the right side” of public opinion making it less likely people will consider their wealth. Us vs Them is not a phenomena restricted to the right. Too often it is used as a tool to muddy the water. Intersectional politics always devolves into whataboutism against the plight of the average American.
As long as race and class are treated as opposing forces, neither can change.
It has been a struggle to post this last week. To find a purpose in doing so. In a world so determined to end itself, I feel attempting to stop the suicide to be a grain of sand caught in the oceanic drift.
On the right, a crowd whose empathy ends with their outer dermal layer. On the left, a crowd who see empathy as an end or rather see no further than feeling.
AHCA is a bad bill. It hasn’t been scored by the CBO and as such there is no analysis what it will do. It will cause people to lose coverage and thats enough for it to not live up to the GOP promise. They forgot the dead can’t vote.
P.C. Culture is a failed solution to real problems in society. After 27 years of academic witch hunts, it fractured the Dems coalition. Pushing former leftists into the Alt-Right. Kids still get gunned down by cops for no reason everyday.
The Alt-Right a vague coalition of reactionaries to whom 1950 is still hell. They are the product of the bubbles we built. Rejected by all, they have come to raze and pillage and rape. Armored in our beloved Irony, they are immune to shame and guilt. They are the priests and flocks of whataboutism and the ultimate product of the internet. They are something new. They wish to supplant democracy and install a CEO, one without a board to answer to.
Those of us outside their circle must decide if we wish to live in a society that self-governs or to bow. That decision must begin with real bipartisanship from both sides. ACA was always more conservative in its solution than progressive. The GOP could repair it and show alternative to single payer healthcare. Progressivism needs to promote concrete quantifiable solutions and worry less about when an ally trips. Those would be baby steps.
Art doesn’t function as a window and politics isn’t a football game. We can either accept the world and save democracy or drown in our own shit.