audience

The Donald Trump Show (Business Acumen)

Donald Trump speaks during the Conservative Political Action Conference [CPAC], 6 March 2014, at National Harbor, Maryland. (Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

“Trump hiring Steve Bannon might go down as the worst campaign hire of all time.”

Eric Kleefeld

This is a point worth considering.

First off, it opened up the field for Hillary Clinton’s blistering speech yesterday against the alt-right, as well as the Clinton campaign’s other attacks linking Trump to not just Breitbart, but to Klansmen and other sundry white supremacists.

Next, the Trump campaign’s clumsy efforts to deny its alt-right connections has become utterly impossible. In the latest example, Trump himself got tripped up by Anderson Cooper. After the candidate claimed, “Nobody even knows what it is … this is just a term that was given that—frankly, there’s no alt-right or alt-left.” Cooper had only to point out that Bannon himself proclaimed Breitbart to be the voice of the alt-right. Trump’s reply: “I don’t know what Steve said.”

Certainly, it makes for a neatly-packaged talking point to call Donald Trump the candidate of the internet trolls, but the label also happens to be true. And in that context, there really is a method to the madness.

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Literacy in the Time of Facebook

This is what it comes to.

Either Empire viewers are really, really stupid, or Facebook is.  Flip a coin.One of the underappreciated qualities of whatever excrement happens to be “trending” via social media is that we can discern a little something or other about the audience. You know, like a “Most Popular” sidebar in which we discover that for everything else going on, people would rather read about Rhianna going on vaction, or Jennifer Lawrence nude, or, hey, how about Martha Stewart having a threesome.

This is what we do with literacy.

I suppose, then, that while it is easy enough to say we shouldn’t be surprised that the season finale of a popular television series is trending, I’m not certain why the trending aspect is the fact that a finale is a two-hour episode.

But, you know, it’s Facebook, so … right.

Yeah. This is what we do with literacy.

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Image note: Facebook “trending” widget, 19 March 2015, 1:49 PDT. Apparently people who didn’t watch the show need to know how long it was. Wait a minute, that doesn’t work, does it? Why would we care? Oh, dear. That means either Empire viewers are really, really stupid, or Facebook is. Flip a coin.

Morbid Humor to Bug Your Conscience

Detail of 'Bug Martini' by Adam Huber, 18 March 2015.It’s true, I have a rule that I should complain whenever a setup or punch line is so obviously answered; never presume your audience that stupid, and never oblige them to be pedantic. To the other, if the whole point is to get us laughing at infanticide, well, yeah, I can certainly cut out some wiggle room.

And, hey, since it’s really easy to hyperextend spoonerisms, at least I didn’t go with riggle womb, because that would be way too political.

Oh.

Right.

Damn.

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Huber, Adam. “Loss Word Puzzle”. Bug Martini. 19 March 2015.

A ‘Double Hufftendre’

An entry from the Huffington Post most-read sidebar, 11 September 2014, reflecting the consumption priorities of the news site's readers.It really is too easy to pick on Huffington Post; the most-read lists on pretty much any given news site can be depressing, amusing, harrowing, or whatever. And for that we generally can’t blame the site per se, but, rather, its readers. In HuffPo’s case, though, that glammed up sidebar is a neverending wellspring of, “Wait, what?”

To the other, we at This Is generally adore double-entendre, bad puns, and the sorts of inside jokes that make us wonder about our own psyches. Psyche. Psyches. I don’t know; depends on which one of me is in on any given day.

We also have a weakness for hilarious names, as cruel and inappropriate as that might be, but it is a burden bestowed by a grandfather who once told the story of the Rev. Perry Winkle. And real life provides so much better comic relief than Asswipe Johnson.

True, it is in that vein of juvenilia that the sidebar headline stands out so much: “These Slits Were Too High For Comfort On This Week’s Worst Dressed List”. Then again, one would hope it’s the anemic play on “slits” being “too high” that ranked the article among the most read; what a sad testament if that many people are actually out hunting for celebrity fashion gossip or the chance to revel in what may or may not be some idiotic excuse for slut-shaming.

Really, I prefer the exploitative joke of an obscure colloquialism for a vagina to the idea that people really do care that much about who someone else thinks is the worst-dressed celebrity in a given week. The fact that there is anything remotely approaching a weekly worst-dressed list is a suggestion that the species will, indeed, amuse itself to death.