I created a bunch of videos and other digital between 2009 and 2015 or so about a variety of topics, sort of the first version of my official career as a media critic and political analyst and all-around demagogue. Much of it was just free-form ranting on whatever subject I might find at hand, as is this video from 2010, the first zombie content I’m digging up and gathering together under the heading of “JH Classic.”
In this video, we discuss the similarities between how right-wing media builds a disinformation narrative using the same tools employed by professional wrestlers and promoters back in the days when “exhibition wrestling” was a carnival sideshow and often involved conning local men into the ring for fights, which the promoter and his assistants would take bets (“make book”) on from the crowd while suckering their hometown boy into a fight against someone who had already lost a couple of matches and clearly couldn’t fight, but then magically became a martial arts master when Local Boy gets in the ring with him…after all Local Boy’s friends have made bets on him to win.
The scheme varied, and continues doing so to this day, but that was the core scam, the main “work” of the spectacle. In this video I discuss how the same basic psychology is used to befuddle and mesmerize consumers of mass media – and make no mistake, although my focus here was on Fox News and the right, the rest of the spectrum is not walking the moral high ground on this either. You may be able to rationalize some of it by noting it’s not as extreme or as misleading, or even fall into the “ends justify the means” thinking by noting that even if it’s the same tactics, the goal of the strategy is more ethically supportable from the left.
It really isn’t; the goal is profit, not ideology, and neither your heroes nor mine are any less susceptible to its allure than those we disagree with ideologically.
I’m not going to re-litigate the video here. I chose this particular video because it’s one of several I filmed while staying with my friends Vince and Kym in Royal Oak, Mi. during the spring and summer of 2010. It was they who suggested I go to college, which I did shortly thereafter. I’ve often discussed how I felt like I’d reached the limits of my ability to self-educate in terms of nomenclature and terminology and tools to present and defend my positions in the “big leagues,” e.g. in a context where that level of academic knowledge is expected as a sign of competence like public speaking, or being an effective activist. Plus it gave me source content to use for playing around with filters and effects in Adobe Premiere. So this video is kind of a snapshot of that moment, basically.
It’s well worth noting how well this strategy has played out and how much more pervasive it’s become in the last decade; we’ve elected Donald Trump, a guy who has literally been an entertainer in the professional wrestling business, to the United States Presidency. Maybe if his fans understood some of this stuff – or if his opponents in the “independent liberal” Facebook Page-o-Sphere understood why they shouldn’t have embraced these tactics in spite of their equal utility as clickbait to generate ad revenue – we wouldn’t have that problem.
Enjoy, and please remember to subscribe to my YouTube channel, there’s a bunch of old content that will be visible there over the coming weeks, plus I’ll be creating and publishing new stuff there as well!