Category Archives: Culture Wars

ESPN ratings in free fall. Why?

From Jeff Reynolds at PJMedia,

This new report comes mere months after a report showing that ESPN is losing subscribers at an alarming rate. In November 2016, ESPN lost over 600,000 subscribers, its worst month ever. ESPN has historically been a workhorse performer, one of the most successful cable channels of all time. Driven by live events, previously unavailable sports updates, an offbeat delivery, and compelling content, ESPN reached must-watch status and stayed there for a couple of decades. At the height of their popularity, in 2011, ESPN was available in over 100 million homes. A few years ago, however, the tide began to ebb. As of December 2016, that number had dropped to 88.4 million — a steady, inexorable decline.

This has resulted in a precipitous drop in ad revenue at ESPN and its corporate parent company, Disney. This is what is driving the next round of layoffs.

A number of factors play a role but one naturally wonders about the recent drift into social justice warfare:

One of the most vocal critics of ESPN’s embrace of progressivism is Clay Travis, a national radio host on competitor Fox Sports Radio. Travis is no conservative himself, having worked on Al Gore’s presidential campaign in 2000. Travis has nonetheless been relentless in his criticism of ESPN in both his on-air broadcasts and on his blog, Outkick The Coverage. He wrote in February that “ESPN decided to become a social justice warrior network, treating all liberal opinion makers as those worthy of promotion and casting aside all those who had the gall to challenge the new Disney world order. ESPN became MSESPN.” Or as a friend of mine puts it, they have become ES(JW)PN. When you alienate half of your potential consumers, why should you expect their uninterrupted loyalty? More.

Reality check: Progressives thrive better in government monopoly media than anywhere else and, where they gain power, they will simply eliminate the loyalty factor. But in the case of a sports channel, the growth of in-house progressivism absent any market demand suggests other underlying economic weaknesses, such as the ones Reynolds notes.

See also: Are Hollywood’s wounds self-inflicted? As noted earlier, when Hollywood types started demanding that we all listen to them rant, they were competing with every bore on the planet. No wonder their financial fortunes are tanking. Failing to understand their situation, they did it when the digital universe makes them just one alternative among many. If they haven’t figured all that out by now, they are just not going to pull out of their dive.

Monasteries of the Mind

When everything is politicized, people retreat into mental mountaintops — dreams of the past and fantasies of the future.

The rapper Snoop Dogg released a video shooting a mock-up of the president. Rapper Bow Wow wants to “pimp” the first lady. What a difference a few months make. Not long ago rapper Kendrick Lamar issued an album whose cover showed young rappers on the White House lawn celebrating the death of a white judge. He received an invitation to the White House (a cut from his To Pimp a Butterfly album was Barack Obama’s favorite song of the year). When Trump has lost the rapper vote, has he lost America?

The suicide of expertise: Glenn Reynolds

According to Foreign Affairs magazine, Americans reject the advice of experts so as “to insulate their fragile egos from ever being told they’re wrong.” That’s in support of a book by Tom Nichols called The Death of Expertise, which essentially advances that thesis.

Well, it’s certainly true that the “experts” don’t have the kind of authority that they possessed in the decade or two following World War II. Back then, the experts had given us vaccines, antibiotics, jet airplanes, nuclear power and space flight. The idea that they might really know best seemed pretty plausible.

Is it cultural appropriation when a white politician quotes Beyoncé to boost her campaign?

The Facebook post, quoting the pop star’s hit Irreplaceable, said Ashton would take the party “To the Left, to the Left.” It was removed Wednesday after the Vancouver chapter of Black Lives Matter tweeted at her that “Appropriating Black culture is not intersectional feminism.” Ashton, a vocal feminist and social justice advocate, was sensitive to the charge she wasn’t practicing intersectionality — which, simply put, is a version of feminism that recognizes the complexities race, class, ability and sexuality add to debates about gender equity.

‘Racial Self-Interest’ is not Racism’ – Ethno-demographic interests and the immigration debate

This report presents new research by Eric Kaufmann, Professor of Politics at Birkbeck University, which examines attitudes towards racism amongst British and American voters of different races and political persuasions. The research shows that:

A majority of British and American people of all races believe that white majority desires to reduce immigration can be motivated by racial self interest rather than racism – and that there is a crucial distinction

White liberals are most likely to believe that whites who desire lower immigration to maintain their population share are racist – whilst white conservatives are most likely to believe that minorities who want more of ‘their own’ to immigrate are racist

Political views are more important than race in determining a voter’s perception of group-based immigration preferences – for example, the divide between Remain and Brexit voters, as well as

Trump and Clinton voters, on whether it is racist for whites to want to restrict immigration stretches to 70 points

Comment continued…

Read the full report.

‘Racial Self-Interest’ is not Racism

It’s OK to say Western civilization is superior

Are those of us who believe contemporary Western civilization, rooted in Europe’s Enlightenment, is superior to what, say, modern China or Egypt have to offer, racist?

Should we who have our ancestors in Africa or Asia feel guilty when we are inspired by the Hobbesian covenant, the Lockean contract or the Rousseauian pact?

Some in the Islamic world believe so, and condemn any learning that originates from the words of the “Kufaar” (Christians, Jews, Hindus, Atheists).

But now it seems some in the West also feel it is racist for non-White people to look up to Europe’s past for inspiration.

Twisted Sisters

So TCM ran The Nun’s Story again, and I watched it again, and cried again. Which isn’t that big a deal because I cry at pretty much every movie, and by “pretty much every movie,” I mean Galaxy Quest.

Since duty and sacrifice are the nuclei of melodrama, you don’t have to be Roman Catholic to be mesmerized and possibly moved by stories about pre–Vatican II nuns, with their paradoxically cumbersome yet graceful habits, and the strictly ordered minutiae of their alien daily lives. In fact, it probably helps.


Barbarians and the Civilized

It is by now a familiar cliché, long propagated by Western thinkers and the media, that Europe and European culture are responsible for a multitude of ills. Europeans have been raised to detest themselves, certain that they have inflicted evil for which they must relentlessly atone. This evil is known by two terms: colonialism and imperialism, both driven by capitalism. Nothing today is more European than this self-hatred, this passion for cursing and lacerating ourselves. Yet, by issuing their anathemas, the high priests of defamation only signal their membership in the universe they reject. How can we fail to see that we take a strange pride in being the worst? Self-denigration is all too clearly a form of indirect self-glorification. Evil comes only from us; others are always motivated by sympathy, goodwill, and candor. Such is the paternalism of the guilty conscience: seeing ourselves as the kings of infamy is still a way of staying on the crest of history. Europe remains messianic in a minor mode, campaigning for its own weakness. Barbarism is the European’s great pride; he denies that others are ever barbarous, always finding attenuating circumstances for them, which also denies them all responsibility.

The bias of normalcy in a time of insanity

There have been no civil wars in America’s recent past, no cities burned to the ground, and no famines. But there’s no denying that American society has changed in radical ways

I came across the term “normalcy bias” the other day. It refers to a mental habit of assuming that things will continue to function as they normally have. The normalcy bias causes us to underestimate the possibility of a life-changing disaster or a radical societal change. It renders us more vulnerable and less prepared when hard times strike.

If a society goes a long time without experiencing a major catastrophe, then the normalcy bias is strengthened. If history has treated your nation kindly for a long stretch, it’s natural to assume that it will continue to do so.

Independent California “isn’t that wacky of an idea”

From Megan Carberry at Salon,

It would hardly be the progressive utopia with which the state is often associated, but it could yield breakthroughs in traditionally stagnant political squabbles. To those who argue that California is obligated to stay and fight for the country’s soul, perhaps free of restriction an independent California could actually demonstrate the success of progressive values in action and serve as a better model for the world than the United States. If being one of the stars and stripes means that the populace will be denying climate science and gerrymandering districts in the interests of preserving white nationalism for a few decades, it’s not unreasonable to want to provide California’s 40 million residents with a better life while we can. More.

and cold water from Victor Davis Hanson at Townhall,

California is likewise becoming a winner-take-all society. It hosts the largest numbers of impoverished and the greatest number of rich people of any state in the country. Eager for cheap service labor, California has welcomed in nearly a quarter of the nation’s undocumented immigrants. California has more residents living in poverty than any other state. It is home to one third of all the nation’s welfare recipients.

The income of California’s wealthy seems to make them immune from the effects of the highest basket of sales, income and gas taxes in the nation. The poor look to subsidies and social services to get by. Over the last 30 years, California’s middle classes have increasingly fled the state.

“Gone With the Wind”-like wealth disparity in California is shocking to the naked eye. Mostly poor Redwood City looks like it’s on a different planet from tony nearby Atherton or Woodside. More.

Reality check: The main value of a secession movement, for California as for Quebec, is to hold the rest of the country to ransom without actually leaving. Under those circumstances, intractable conflict is a growth industry for SJWs facing hard times. There is no fear of the state becoming a utopia.

See also: Mark Steyn on US Establishment (right and left) vs. Middle America

Academy Awards protest hooplah masks declining public interest

From Brooke Seipel at the Hill,

Hollywood’s United Talent Agency held an anti-President Trump rally instead of it’s usual pre-Oscars party Friday in Los Angeles, featuring Jodie Foster, Michael J. Fox, Keegan-Michael Key and other celebs. More.

Reality check: The other thing that the increasingly politicized Awards culture features is declining public interest. See, for example, from Rick Kissell at Variety:

Oscars Ratings on ABC Down 6% Overall, But Up in Younger Viewers, Key Male Demos

and Dominic Patten at Deadline:

Oscar Ratings: Chris Rock’s Return As Host Draws 34M Viewers In 8-Year Low

There are doubtless other reasons for decline but here is one likely correlation we can expect mavens not to notice: If celebs want to talk to and about themselves and their opinions, as opposed to listening to and interpreting those of their audience, they are in competition with all the other bores out there. It’s a tough market.

See also: SONY trying to save its Hollywood investment


Vanity Fair: Hollywood is over

Can the US Dems win back rural voters?

From Matt Vespa at Townhall,

So, what to do? The article noted that the college-educated, and mostly liberal, segments of America flock to the cities for economic opportunities, while the non-college educated stay home. Therein rests the urban/rural divide and the emerging Republican stronghold that covers most of the country.

To reverse this trend, liberals don’t know what to do. Wald cited ProPublica’s Alec MacGillis who said that hipsters should move to Iowa. I don’t think that’s going to work. Moreover, we’ve seen what happens when liberals move to rural America; they make them more Republican because of their insufferable politics. The question for Democrats is very much a red pill, blue pill option. Risk the wrath of nonwhite voters in the Democratic Party for shifting focus away from issues, like Black Lives Matter, and focus trying to win back these white working class voters that number in the tens of millions through a concerted economic messaging campaign. Or double-down on identity politics and hope the Republican advantage in the rural areas dies out.

The latter isn’t coming any time soon—and Wald notes the dangers of both. Democrats aren’t guaranteed that white working class voters will return to the rank-and-file. The Left’s relationship with identity politics from the urban areas blanketed the rural areas that had good numbers of Democrats with a thick smugness that has pushed them closer to the GOP, shocked at being shunned to push an agenda based on speech codes, safe spaces, and political correctness. More.

Reality check: Rural and small-town cultural identities tend to revolve around work and achievement: e.g. I’m a trucker, a born-again Christian, a Ford owner, and a Steelers fan. Urban areas are more likely to encourage identities relating to grievance and entitlement: I have post-traumatic stress disorder and attention deficit disorder, the social worker doesn’t do enough for me, and people disrespect my culture and my beliefs. It’s hardly likely that the same political culture will appeal to both.

If the Dems choose to stick with the urban aggrieved, they must export them and their values to rural areas. Let’s see how that turns out.

See also: Why friends don’t understand how hard the Democrats were hit by US 2016
Talking to friends about the American election, I’m sometimes surprised at the extent to which they buy into traditional mainstream media views as if those media still represented a window on the world instead of being victims of changes they do not understand.

10 Conservative Sites Blacklisted With Breitbart

A few months ago, brands started coming under fire on Twitter for having ads appear on the conservative news site Breitbart. In response, many did pull ads, including advertisers like Allstate and Modcloth. Brands have started taking blacklisting to a new level, including many more conservative sites which should not be lumped in with Breitbart.

“We have had some clients asking if we can ensure their ads do not run on Breitbart or other specific websites, and we have proactively reached out to others to let them know our options when it comes to blocking specific properties and allowing them to review our blacklist,” Marcus Pratt, vice president of insights and technology at Mediasmith, told Digiday. The site also linked to a blacklist reportedly from Mediasmith, which included a broad swath of reputable websites.