Hard Truths

HardTruths_4_23_15by Sidney Reilly

On Towing the Line
ESPN reporter Britt McHenry made the news cycle after getting caught on camera ruthlessly berating a towing garage employee. The video is certainly not a good look for McHenry, who’s seen making fun of the weight, education, and dental hygiene of the unseen employee.

Naturally Facebook was awash in weighty condemnations from moms and uncles across the world. Of course what the world really wanted was comeuppance for McHenry, who fit nicely into a narrative about rich, entitled white people. Her conventional physical attractiveness, mixed with her blond hair and verbal cruelty, made her a ripe target for Internet justice. ESPN responded quickly with what seems like a fairly reasonable and measured response: a one-week suspension.

But the reaction has been mixed between those who are furious she didn’t have her life ruined and those who oddly believe she is somehow under an assault on her constitutional right to be an A-hole. Oh and there’s a third contingent, mostly online journalists, who are desperately trying to define the real issue. Internet journalism would basically just be Gawker and six blogs about Star Wars if it weren’t for journalists breathlessly racing to post their article “The Real Issue with _____.”

The most popular candidate for “the real issue” at hand here is that it’s woman-on-woman violence, and that’s the real problem—not just an isolated incident of a woman at the end of her rope berating the attendant at the garage who happened to be unlucky enough to be on shift when she came in to get her car back.

I sort of miss when issues were black and white. I’d sell my left nut to have one of these two people just be American and the other a commie, like back in the day when news was news.

On Fundraising
We’ve entered a dark new corridor in politics and Twitter mobs. After Indiana passed a religious freedom bill that unleashed the Internet kraken on us all a few weeks ago, a small pizzeria became the epicenter of the storm. Memories Pizza said they wouldn’t cater a gay wedding (and we all know how many people are asking a pizzeria to cater their wedding…) and the Internet, the one populated solely by social liberals, mobilized to shut them down.

Then in response, the other Internet, the one that’s populated solely by social conservatives, mobilized to prop them up. Starting a crowdfunding project that netted them over $800,000.

Of course both sides were freaking out over nothing, but what’s new?

Here’s what: a mechanic in Michigan declared he won’t serve gays, in their wedding or otherwise. What are the chances this guy really gives a hoot about homosexuality and isn’t just trying to drum up some crowdfunding from the millions of people out there who it appears have nothing better to do with their money than prop up businesses owned by people with little-to-no business sense?

I’m not taking bets, but if this guy gets a flood of cash, too, I’m just going to start declaring wildly unpopular things and wait for the small group of people who agree with that horrible thing to just give me money. Seems like a better way to earn money than working.

On Authenticity
Remember when performers were all completely full of it and you could count on them to be much tamer in real life than their onstage personas? While parents once feared rapper Ice-T’s street-hardened lyrics, true aficionados recognized him as a harmless breakdancing actor who hadn’t seen “the streets” in years.

Times change.

All three members of up and coming rap group Migos were arrested after their performance at a college in Georgia over the weekend. Police smelled the aroma of marijuana emanating from their van (remarkable, the detective techniques needed to catch such master criminals) and found guns and other drugs inside. The group was rounded up as they left stage. They looked unconcerned in their mugshots, which makes sense because we have a long, proud tradition of letting rock stars walk on serious crimes, but I wonder if we’ve turned a new corner in competing outrages.

By my current checklist, they’re one up for being young minorities terrorized by white Southern police, and then they score another point for being on the right side of the marijuana debate. But they lose major points for being gun owners and driving gas-guzzling, non-hybrid tour vans. Plus they make a lot of money, so they’re rich. By my math, these guys will find little sympathy, or coverage at all, in the mainstream press. But stay with it, the math on these stories can get confusing.