Tag: Thomas Frank

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The Truman Show Delusion: Television-Induced Psychosis in the Endtimes

This may be dismissed off-hand as the bizarre world of the madman, but it’s indicative of a broader social pattern of grave suspicion of social reality, a kind of full flowering reifying the post-truth world we’ve found ourselves in.  Entertainment has conquered reality after all, and buried the world of facts with it.  Everything became suspicious, cynical.  Art or entertainment no longer a reflection of the real world, but its hall of mirrors absorbing reality itself.  Only when everything became an absorbing simulation, reality became somehow more melodramatic.  It was emotional. It was meaner, fearful, dumber.  The masters of the suspicion proliferated in tandem with the explosion of the phony world, and everyone’s lost their minds.

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Why Liberal Comedy Failed

Why, we may ask, is satire news prone to this kind of burn out? I propose that it is prone because it really offers no substantive challenge to the status quo. Sure, it can snidely critique the ludicrous or offensive behavior and activities of politicians and elites, but stripped of this, it has no real point of view. As Chris Hedges noted, these “liberals are tolerated by the capitalist elites because they do not question the virtues of corporate capitalism, only its excesses, and call for tepid and ineffectual reforms.” So it becomes, instead, an activity of cynical liberal identity politics, because their shows, whether being run by Viacom like at Comedy Central, or at CBS, are part of the same system of wealthy coastal elites that rural America resents.