In lieu of a movie review this week, we’ve published my chapter from The Seven Deadly Virtues. (You can buy it here!) If you’re a reader of this here blog, it may seem a bit familiar to you. Consider it a thesis statement on “The Politicized Life.”
Consider it also a rebuttal to Jonathan Chait’s sad statement of intolerance. In a much-discussed essay, Jonathan Chait celebrated the politicized life, implicitly called for political segregation, and announced that he would be saddened if his daughter came home with a Republican soulmate:
You’re dying of ebola and have the choice between bleeding out in the street unloved by anyone or being cared for by a Christian missionary. What do you do? What do you do?
If you’re Slate‘s Brian Palmer, that’s apparently a tougher question than you might think. Here’s Palmer:
One of the mouth-breathing conspiracy theorists at Vice thinks you should boycott the NFL because a couple of NFL employees have had trouble with the law and some of the folks who are paid a great deal of money to play a game that they love of their own free will wind up with brain damage.
The mouthbreather raises a good point! We should hold all of our entertainments to these standards! Indeed, we should boycott all the things.
Andrew W.K., America’s premier partier, is no more a fan of the politicized life than yours truly. In his advice column for the Village Voice, W.K. smacks down a guy who wrote in to complain about his dad, a “65-year-old super right-wing conservative who has basically turned into a total asshole intent on ruining our relationship …
Jed Perl has an important essay over at the New Republic on the incessant politicization of the arts by the left. As someone who has made a hobby of taking on the politicized life, you can imagine how pleased I was to read it. Perl’s thrust is this: art is separate from the artist, and vice versa. Which is to say, you can disagree with a person’s politics and still approve of—or learn something important about humanity from—their art. Here’s a taste:
Imagine that your life is so hollow and devoid of meaning, that you, upon hearing a song played in a grocery store, feel compelled to go home, print out that song’s lyrics, and present them to a store employee demanding that, in the future, they refrain from playing that song so as to refrain from …
I participated in a Bloggingheads earlier this week with Kevin Glass; our topic of discussion was something I’ve been scribbling about for the last 18 months or so. If you watch, you’ll note that there’s a picture of one Adam Kredo over my left shoulder informing everyone that my office is a “den of borderline anti-Semitism.”
I want to drill down a bit deeper into a point Kevin and I touched on briefly near the end, about when it’s “okay”* to live the politicized life. When is an opinion so outré that we should shun the opinion holder? When should we seek to impoverish those with whom we disagree?
There’s this show on Netflix called Orange Is the New Black about women in prison. One of the actors on this show is Jason Biggs, who has a Twitter feed. One need not watch the show to enjoy his Twitter feed and vice versa. Neither is integral to the other. There is literally no requirement whatsoever that the two of these things be consumed in tandem.
And yet, there’s a Very Serious Post over at Salon by Daniel D’Addario in which he pronounces that “Jason Biggs’s awful Twitter feed is ruining ‘Orange Is the New Black.’” I am … puzzled. Well and truly puzzled. Because, as I wrote not 50 words previously, there is literally no requirement whatsoever that the two of these things be consumed in tandem. One can watch the show and understand every single detail without ever once reading a 140-character missive from Mr. Biggs. And one can read his 140-character missives about The Bachelorette without ever once watching even a second of his television program and still understand that he thinks the program is dumb. They are not related at all. If you think OITNB is amazeballs and that Jason Biggs’ Twitter feed is utter shite—two opinions I happen to hold—you can watch the show and not follow him on Twitter. The whole point of Twitter is that you can follow whoever you want and are required to follow no one.
D’Addario seems to misunderstand how “Twitter” and “acting” works: