Since Donald Trump won the presidency, an onslaught of entertainers known to be a-political have suddenly decided that they have to get political. Comedians and TV shows which were political before have in large numbers succumbed to full-blown Trump hysteria and barely get around to mentioning anything else. Jim Jeffries and The Daily Show, anyone? John Mulaney fits into the first category. In his new Netflix special, Kid Gorgeous At Radio City, he is dipping his toes in political waters for the first time. It’s a good show and even the obligatory six minutes of Trump bashing had their moments – and more so, they offered a revealing glimpse into the minds of righteous Trumpophobes.
For some time I wondered if I was so petty that I couldn’t take a joke if it is about something or someone I liked, but I found out that that’s not it. I can take a joke, as long as it is a good joke, but when leftists joke about things or people they don’t like they simply tend to stop being funny. They don’t try to be funny anymore, because they know they will elicit laughter and applause by just being rude and obnoxious, no punch-line needed. They either can’t or don’t try very hard to push down their hatred, and the resulting jokes are rarely astute or humorous, but rather tasteless, predictable, and often downright hateful. Their equally liberal audience is so eager to air their frustrations that they don’t care and will laugh hysterically because that’s what they came to do, and also they get to feel super-rebellious for agreeing with everyone around them and the entire establishment as well.
This is not unique to President Trump of course, as illustrated by South Park in its season 3 episode (that was back in 1999!) Spontaneous Combustion, in which Whoopi Goldberg hosted the Nobel Prize awards ceremony, and her big “joke” is: “Republicans are so stupid. I hate Republicans. Republicans are so stupid.” And she gets a big laugh on every line.
Mulaney starts his political segment by admitting he “I’ve never really cared about politics. Never talked about ’em much.” To put it more bluntly: he doesn’t know much about it. Then, without mentioning He-who-must-not-be-named, he segues into an analogy of President Trump as a “horse, loose in a hospital”. Certainly more creative than most of his colleagues, not overly bitter, and not even a bad analogy at first, as he states: “I think eventually everything’s going to be okay, but I have no idea what’s going to happen next.” And President Trump is unpredictable, because he doesn’t play the games we have come to know all too well from the political class. It’s basically why he was elected. His detractors hate and fear him for it, but his supporters love him for it.
So Mulaney could have left it at that for more bipartisan appeal. But he went on down the beaten path of looming nuclear holocaust that would be a war with North Korea. A bit that is getting more and more inadvertently hilarious by the day, as North Korea is taking a more reasonable attitude than it has in decades – with Kim Jong Un willing to step into South Korea’s side of the DMZ, agreeing to meet President Trump for peace talks and giving up his most powerful leverage, three American prisoners, before the start of negotiations. Political pundit John Mulaney failed to foresee all of that, it should come as no surprise.
His honesty however, does come as something of a surprise, when he admits that Trump supporters are generally better informed than he is and that he basically cannot stand them for it, because he is by his own admission too “lazy” to look up and find that information himself, and yells: “Get out of here with your facts (…) Just ’cause you’re accurate does not mean you’re interesting” and “When people say ‘How come you were never mad at the last guy?’, I say ‘Because I wasn’t paying attention. I used to pay less attention’”, which he semi-justifies by saying “I thought the last guy was pretty smart and he seemed good at his job, and I am lazy by nature.”
What can we take away from that segment?
- He admits he doesn’t know much about politics. But that somehow he felt compelled to address politics now, because of Trump being President. What he felt is part peer pressure and part press-fed hysteria.
- He admits that he was unaware of Obama’s failures as President, illustrating clearly how the mainstream media worked to protect Obama’s image as hard as they are working to tarnish Donald Trump’s. For a casual follower of politics, it is as easy to miss Obama’s scandals as it is to miss Trump’s successes.
- He admits that Trump supporters are generally better informed about politics. This reveals that a large segment of the national media is ignoring, hiding or downplaying facts to (successfully) influence the way their audience thinks. It also shows however, that there is a large group of people willing to dig for information the mainstream media refuse to give them.
- Even when confronted with new facts and information, he refuses to change his initial assessment, which was based on the uncritical (lazy) acceptance of what he was told by others. Trump supporters may have facts, they may be accurate, but he still thinks that having Obama in the White House was like having your mother babysit your children, while Trump in the White House is like having Gary Busey as a babysitter. This is classic circular reasoning: I saw no reason to check up on Obama, so I don’t know what he did wrong. Therefore, I believe he did nothing wrong and I was right not to check up on him.
John Mulaney is not the only lazy person, and if the media landscape had been neutral or equally divided, support for President Trump would likely be miles ahead of what it is now. When comparing Presidential approval ratings don’t forget that it is President Trump with almost all of the political and media establishment against him, versus Obama with almost all of the political and media establishment behind him. It would be miraculous if it were even a close call, but in actuality, Trump has beaten Obama’s Rasmussen poll approval ratings in several weeks.
People who only follow mainstream media (aside from Fox) must be baffled. And they are. Browse some left-leaning timelines on Twitter, and then some right-leaning ones. People are living in polar opposite parallel realities. And the mainstream media are constantly feeding this with its one-sided, blatantly biased political coverage. That is where the chasm started that is now dividing society. They are further disenfranchising the disenfranchised, and feeding the Trumpophobes with more irrational fear and outrage.
Are we on the internet not doing the same? No, we are not the ones who created the chasm – we are the ones who were ditched on the other side. Closing the gap would be great, but for us to do that before the establishment changes its tune is ideological suicide. But their side is crumbling, and our side will always have room for more. Our moment will come. The times they are a-changing.
— Caolan Robertson (@CaolanRob) May 6, 2018