Things I’m thinking about lately
This thing about blackface among Virginia political leaders is.. interesting and frustrating.
Look: blackface is problematic. At some point, the culture matters, but it’s always been about poking fun of African-American people – it’s never been good. Ever.
But now we’re seeing another witchhunt, and some of it has implications beyond what its natural purview should be.
Remember a few years ago, when a girl wore a Chinese dress and was slammed for “cultural appropriation”? We’re looking at that being the natural extension here, again.
We’re looking at something that says that a little girl who dresses up as Serena Williams – the tennis star – is crippling her future, by opening herself up for an accusation of “blackface.”
That’s not even silly. Some of the accusations going around in Virginia center around a dance contest where someone dressed up as Michael Jackson, makeup included.
That’s homage, not insult.
I’ve no interest in defending someone being racist, but we need to remember that the absolutes here are disastrous.
The Media Screwed Up – Color Me Surprised
Catlin Flanagan published “The Media Botched the Covington Catholic Story” in The Atlantic. It’s brutal, vicious, and right on point. Included are these two absolute smashing quotes:
By Saturday, the story had become so hot, and the appetite for it so deep, that some news outlets felt compelled to do some actual reporting.
…and this overlong paragraph, that would be devastating to any journalist who had the guts to read it …
How could the elite media—The New York Times, let’s say—have protected themselves from this event, which has served to reinforce millions of Americans’ belief that traditional journalistic outlets are purveyors of “fake news”? They might have hewed to a concept that once went by the quaint term “journalistic ethics.” Among other things, journalistic ethics held that if you didn’t have the reporting to support a story, and if that story had the potential to hurt its subjects, and if those subjects were private citizens, and if they were moreover minors, you didn’t run the story. You kept reporting it; you let yourself get scooped; and you accepted that speed is not the highest value. Otherwise, you were the trash press.
Journalism has been absolutely wrecked by outlets screeching for clicks instead of keeping to their purpose of informing the public. It’s what got Trump elected. It’s amplifying hatred of the other – when “the other” is the fellow who doesn’t agree with everything you say politically.
I hope journalists are paying attention.
Speaking of paying attention…
AI Article Title Generator
BJ Campbell wrote a paywalled article on Medium, called “AI Article Title Generator.” In it, he suggests a business whose sole goal is to optimize titles for clicks, with said articles only having to be tangentially related to the titles. It’s sarcastic… but right on. I’ve thought of similar things, sadly, but not enunciated them… and had I said them, I wouldn’t have said them as eloquently as BJ did.
I write terrible titles, because I’m not trying to maximize traffic through clicks. I’m trying to write information, so I try to write titles that say what the article in question is actually about.
Since I tend to write composite editorials – like this one – that means my titles tend to be really boring. C’est la vie.