You’ve Got to Say It and Spray It: Talkin’ Without Walkin’ Is a Shitmove!
January 19, 2012 1 Comment
So there we were, all 101 of us, hotly debating a new shitmove this weekend past (contesting whether or not receiving a “supremo” wedgie is grounds for murder), when one of our progressive-ass judges and sometime-y writers starts in on this symposium he attended on poverty. This judge got such a major diving board just talking about it that three people sat on it and our final vote was derailed (though it must be stated that three previous votes had resulted in the deadest deadlock). So we decided to delay the vote in favor of considering a whole new sack of more topical shit. For this week, with minor delay and major blue balls about the wedgie issue, we consider the direct and indirect shit content of Remaking America: From Poverty to Prosperity, moderated by Tavis Smiley.
We asked “Was there any shit to be found on- or off-stage?” After reviewing the footage, we’re happy to report out on our fair consensus.
Panelists at the Remaking America: From Poverty to Prosperity event were:
- Michael “Did You See That Time I Zinged Charlton Heston Big-Time?” Moore
- Majora “MajorAwesome” Carter
- Cornel “Fast, Find Something to Rhyme with West ” West
- Barbara “I’ll Support Your Strike” Ehrenreich
- Suze “Orange” Orman
- Vicki B. “Insert Pun Starting with ‘B’ Here” Escarra
- Roger “Wikipedia Him” Clay, Jr.
Talkin’ without walkin’ (or drinkin’ the Kool-Aid without thinkin’ you been fool played) is most certainly a shitmove. Because while these polemic pundits of the left of left certainly had some shit to wade through, the majority of the shit falls squarely on the 1500+ people that crammed into Lisner Auditorium at GWU (and the more than 300 souls that flooded the overflow room and the thousands that watched live or online). And here’s the good news: For the first time in our 50+ years of evaluating shit (collectively), the bad guys in this adventure are only potential shitiots. True to a certain version of the American form, audience members have an opportunity to manifest their own destiny by use of their brain in order to avoid the curse of our harshest judgment and attendant shame.
As stated, panel members definitely have some shit to live down. But if you’ve ever paid attention to anyone on either side of the political spectrum, you know better than to walk into an event like this without a 70-pound bag full of grains of salt to mix with every word and string of spittle that flies from the lips of these (mostly) media personalities.
If you’re worried that we’re just out to dump on the panelists, allow us to preview a flavor of our finer points up front by saying that this event is an important one that deals with a topic we should all be discussing with more sincerity: 3rd-world poverty in a 1st-world nation. This is the conversation we should to be having. But the broader point is that individuals have a responsibility to consider this conversation as a point of departure rather than a pat conclusion. And critical thought applies to every last sound bite.
Most readers would abandon the shit ship right about now, anticipating a call to action that might interrupt their Herman’s Head marathon and/ or juggling practice. But not shitmove.com readers. Not never.
We’ll build up to the big ask. First let’s evaluate some select points from the evening to see if they’re shitty.
One minor call to action must precede our analysis: Don’t take our word for it. Scroll to the bottom of this post for a link to the first of three rebroadcasts available for free on Tavis Smiley’s PBS page. For the sake of your attention span and making the most critical of critical points, we’re completely cherry-picking here. The points we’re lifting from the forum are not meant to represent the entirety of the panelists’ views. We have selected those points which seem to have gone down easy for the crowd but we feel need more stringent analysis.
Roger Clay, Jr., President of the Insight Center for Community Economic Development in Oakland, made two points that were both logically bound together and more than a little frustrated. The first was that he is “more disappointed than he thought possible” with the Presidency of Barack Obama. Fast on the heels of this statement was another regarding his “unrealistic expectations” regarding said Presidency. We appear to have found a link… Do not unrealistic expectations yield severe disappointments? For a man who has kicked around for at least 66 years on this green earth (he was born when FDR was still President but probably after he stopped walking), you’d think his expectations would be more in synch with reality by now. Optimism has nothing to do with reality. On the contrary, it is a philosophy embraced by people who proudly and purposefully put great weight on positive outcomes and so ignore reality for roses. Inherent in this embrace is a bitter disappointment when optimism (which offers no content, only wishes) fails. So on this point, go figure the tears in your eyes, Mr. Clay. You should have consulted a shitologist first.
Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Nickled and Dimed among other non-fiction works, made many legitimate points but sounded our alarums when she said she was raised with these two major prohibitions: 1) Never cross a picket line and 2) Never vote Republican. Let’s say that we’re in perfect, ever-loving agreement with Ms. Ehrenreich. Even so, we agree for all the wrong reasons.
First, a political party is not a static thing. Consider the “Party of Lincoln” compared to today’s GOP field of circus freaks (oops, we’re getting awful close to jugglers with circus references, better watch our step). Consider the party of Reagan compared with his avowed devotees. Not the same over time. Therefore, pledging allegiance to one party forever substitutes ritual and tradition for thought.
Building on this easy mark, we also want to point out that if your stated reason for believing or doing something is “That’s the way I was raised,” you fail to make a substantive critical point. This is an “appeal to tradition” fallacy. “The way it was is the way it should be…” You’re not stating reasons to believe something by virtue of its merit, but rather by virtue of your fear of not being accepted at some level (by parents, peers, what have you).
So what would happen if we just accepted everything our forebears taught us without the benefit of scrutiny? Can everyone in the audience who has a racist grandfather please raise their hands? Simply swallowing the questionable sagacity of our elders is an impediment to true progress.
We understand that Babs may have actually evaluated these two points and found them to pass all her critical tests. We’re not saying she doesn’t have real reasons to uphold these teachings. We are saying it’s shitty to cite your reason for believing something as simply being raised that way. If your reason for believing something to be true has foundation in logic, you might want to lead with that. The stripe of rhetoric that touts tradition as a prime influence needs to go the way of the dinosaur.
Hot Christ. Michael Moore’s next. Filmmaker, bookmaker, Subway Sandwich Club Cardholder. At one point, Mr. Moore made a direct appeal to President Obama, asking him to wake up the following morning, hold a press conference and swear off any funds from corporations, most notably Goldman Sachs. He assured our President that at least 70% of the public would be on his side (though he ventured no guesstimate as to whether 50% of the 70% would show up to vote). This plea received rave reviews from the audience.
Here’s just one of the shitty things about Moore’s plea to consider: His books and movies are not free and he regularly commands speaking fees upwards of $25,000 per appearance. Now hold on, oh philosophy wonks, we know where you’re going. Attacking Michael Moore’s behavior has nothing to do with his argument… that’s some “tu quoque” shit. And it is true that even a hypocrite can make a valid argument. But this is one of those rare cases in which the very substance of Moore’s attack on Obama can be called into question based on his lack of appreciation of its application to his own life. It shows that he doesn’t comprehend the very charge he’s levied against Obama. Moore’s larger point is (and has been for some time) against capitalism as a system. And yet he offers his services for a premium in a capitalist economy.
We’re not calling shit on Michael Moore for charging for his books, movies or appearances or even for being a capitalist when it comes to speaking fees and an anti-capitalist the rest of the time. We’re calling shit on Michael Moore for calling shit on others who do as he does.
And why does Michael Moore charge for his services? Most likely because he’s worried about funding his next project. This is why we draw the comparison to Obama (or any politician): He too is worried about funding for his next project (getting re-elected in order to improve the country, as he sees it). Just as Michael Moore’s worried about his next movie. Just as we’re worried about paying rent next month. If we start giving our labor away, we have a lot to worry about (though we’d be remiss not to point out how free shitmove.com is). None of these concerns are shitty.
There are other panelists we will not deal with in this post. If we went into every point that stuck in our craw, we’d easily be here for 17 years. And we’d be here for about 20 years if we detailed everything we felt was positive about the event (we go into great detail on our sister site, bigassunicornsanddoublerainbowsforever.com). These critical aspects of evaluation are given as examples of filters to keep in place when listening to a panel of experts on any topic.
We do want to single out one strong moment from our favorite and extremely unshitty panelist, Majora Carter. You better go look this chick up (MacArthur Genius, “Prophet of Local”, radio host and green activist extraordinaire). In asking a pragmatic question, she made a brilliant point. With sincerity and a focus on real takeaways, Ms. Carter asked what solutions were being offered for people living in poverty right now. Though Tavis Smiley seemed to think this question was answered at least 57 times, it wasn’t (Smiley indicated programs being put in place to help those in poverty but no actual points for individual action). We agree with Ms. Carter and wonder what practical items could be lifted from the conversation and applied by and to the multitude of people living in 3rd-world zip codes in every major city and most rural communities in America. Some thoughts are offered below in the “What Can You Do…?” section.
You ought to know better. You are a shitiot if you rely on Michael Moore, Barbara Ehrenreich, Dr. Cornel West, Tavis Smiley or even President Obama to do your work for you. They all have a position to uphold. It is incumbent on media personalities to put pressure on issues that truly matter. They do so imperfectly, but they are at the very least starting conversations we should be having. And that’s what they are, conversation starters in need of critical evaluation.
Obama is in a different role, one that actually produces policy. But consider that he has to represent a wide swath of a diverse public. And not just because he’s power-mad and wants to get re-elected, but because it’s his station to consider what the American public wants and act accordingly (either that or the Anti-Christ thing the Tea Baggers keep harping on). Democracy is a dangerous system if we (the public) are short-sighted, stupid and over-emotional about our decisions. Which is why, when we attend “inspirational” events such as Remaking America, we must not leave our brains in our other pants. We need our critical reason and we need our microphones (blogs, websites).
So here’s the take home question to those 1500+ people clapping and cheering these media personalities: Where was your next dollar spent? Don’t mumble out the side of your mouth about being anti-capitalist. You have money and you spend it in America. At least in the short-term, you are a capitalist. Where does it go? $15.95 laid down at Barnes & Noble so you can read about Michael Moore’s attack on capitalism? $40,000 to get Tavis Smiley to speak at your next birthday party? Interesting choices.
This isn’t some George W. Bush call to action that results in you “stimulating the economy” by going out and buying 15 things you can’t afford to pay off. We’re talking about money you’ve already dedicated to food, clothing, etc ,etc. Where do you spend it and how does that square with your values?
Eventual unanimity, 101 – 0. But it wasn’t easy…
Ixnay on the itshay
One brave soul refused nearly every point made and claimed that the rest of us were cynics, haters and greedy capitalists. He further condescended by saying that while he hated the game, he loved the players. Said judge was sent to Barnes & Noble to purchase every single panelist’s latest book on poverty with his own hard-earned cash. When he returned ($99.21 lighter), he still had money in his capitalist bank account so we made him call the Speakers Bureau and book the three most prominent on-stage guests for his Cinco de Mayo “I Have to Celebrate Something in May” Party: Suze Orman, Michael Moore and Tavis Smiley. Yet he refused to change his vote (though we think this was in large part due to the fact that he was distracted by all the paperwork necessary to take out a 4th mortgage on his 1992 Subaru). We almost made him watch all of Michael Moore’s films back-to-back but decided that wasn’t going to kick-start the part of his brain labeled “For Hard Thinks Only”.
So we finally made him take all his money out of the bank and put it into a credit union, made him give his “sushi fund” to a cause of his choice, registered him to vote and signed him up for a local Habitat for Humanity build. At long last, he relented.
So high we broke the machine.
What If Everyone Talked About Important Things All the Time but Thought That Talking Was an End in Itself?
Good news/ bad news here. The good news is that the world would be an easier place for us all to live in, as we wouldn’t feel the tiny pinch of conscience in regard to our fellow humans and would not be compelled to act in order to help them. The bad news is that the world wouldn’t last very long. But (yay!) good news again: Shitmove.com would never lack subject material.
So what can you do to prevent this shitmove from recurring?
Start by putting your zip code and volunteer interests into this little internet machine and see what happens (http://www.serve.gov/index.asp). It’s President Obama’s call for you to act locally to impact an issue that is important to you. While the GOP’s rhetoric would have you going another direction, we still believe that volunteering is not a partisan issue. You can pick anything you want. Maybe the NRA’s having one of their “Bake and Bullet” sales and needs someone to man the AK-47.
Why not cut your triple mocha triple sow-cow latte triple fuckachino habit in half and find a school to donate to in your area with all your savings? You can find meaningful projects at www.donorschoose.org. Better yet, call the school and ask them if they can take your donation directly so as to avoid the “off the top” fees of donorschoose.org (and The United Way, for that matter). We’re sure the school will find the right address for you to send a check or volunteer.
Not down with the schools (what with their labor unions and their triflin’-ass first-graders)? What are you down with? We see a lot of American flags and “Support the Troops” signs out there. How about the Wounded Warrior Project (http://www.woundedwarriorproject.org/give-back.aspx)? Or the 6th Branch (http://the6thbranch.org/?q=donate)? Find it and work it out. No excuses. But don’t do so blindly. Do your research. Bring your big brain.
Lastly: Fucking vote. Admittedly, we’re split on this one. Half of us think it’s better if most of you don’t vote lest you select a bunch of fucking chuckleheads (though that is certainly unprecedented, 2012 Iowa Caucus-goers who managed to hang a win on Rick “Sweater Vest” Santorum). The other half of us think if you’ve identified voting as important, you could be on a reasonable path. And the third half of us think that if you’re reading this and ready to let shitmove.com think for you, we could certainly forward you a few tickets to punch. So yeah. Vote and shit.
Calling attention to the problems of unregulated markets is fine, attending symposiums is all well and good. But don’t consider yourself outside the market and evaluate the resources you already have. Namely your wallet, your intelligence and your vote.
If you want to change a system or call attention to an injustice, consider that revolutions do not always consist of a bazillion people storming the castle. Sometimes they do, but not always. Establishing your values based on evidence and ensuring your money is spent where you want to spend it is revolutionary. It may not be as melodramatically appealing as Michael Moore on his knees, but it’s twice as effective and half as gross. Imagine if everyone voted their values and put both money and action behind their smack rather than throwing up their hands in frustration or simply talking about important issues or endorsing a 3rd party candidate whose name they don’t even know (because the substance of the 3rd party seems to matter less than the mere existence of one, for some reason). So go out and support community-based organizations, your child’s school, political campaigns (particularly Rick Santorum’s, as that’s money so well spent). And ask yourself what resources you bring to your own world.
Reading and considering and thinking and yes, even attending events such as Remaking America can stir elements of meaningful change. But it is more than this that makes the world a stronger, more inclusive place. It is volunteering and sharing your evaluated, realistic conclusions with your friends. It is participating in the world in a way that best represents your vetted values.
Here’s the link to the first of three videos of Remaking America: From Poverty to Prosperity: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/tavissmiley/interviews/#top.
Alright. That’s the last time we let Preachy McLessons steer the shit ship for the foreseeable future. Tune in this weekend when we get back to the realness and take up the vital issue of whether “supremo” wedgies are grounds for murder.
Don’t forget to put us on blast to all your liberal and conservative friends. They all love us, even if they don’t know it yet. Also, every Facebook “Like” makes us feel less lonely and every Twitter follow (@shitmoves) gives the men among us “heated wood”. The ladies are partial to email followers (it’s more discreet that way).