When I first saw that the Ghostbusters reboot had acquired more downvotes than any other movie trailer in YouTube history, my heart sank. Sure, I’d written an article deconstructing the trailer and denouncing its flaws; then again, a year-and-a-half earlier, I’d written another piece praising the new movie for its boldness in assembling an all-female cast of comedians to lead a blockbuster franchise. I may have been disappointed that the trailer seemed broad and derivative, but it certainly didn’t deserve the ignominious distinction of being one of the most unpopular YouTube videos of all time.
As a progressive, I’ve found there is an argument that seems to be effective in debates with conservatives on law and order issues.
What I’ll say is that police officers have an inherent civic responsibility to be responsive to the concerns of their left-wing critics because they are, in a literal sense, the most important and powerful agents of the state. There are plenty of state officials who have greater overall power over our lives, of course, but a police officer is the one with whom the vast majority of us will directly interact in our day-to-day lives. Even the word “police” is derived from the French “policier,” involving the conduct of public affairs.
When HBO announced in 2014 that it was going to release a cinematic adaptation of “All the Way,” Robert Schenkkan’s Tony Award-winning play about President Lyndon Johnson’s successful mission to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964, it’s unlikely they knew how prescient their film would be. The politics of the 1964 election are uncannily similar to those of 2016: Like Hillary Clinton today, Johnson was deeply distrusted by liberals due to his widespread identification with “the establishment” (financial as well as political) and image as a consummate politician who lacked core principles. Meanwhile his Republican opponent, Barry Goldwater, had seized the GOP nomination in large part by basing his campaign around a racially charged issues (opposing federal civil rights legislation), not dissimilar to Donald Trump’s revolution in the GOP this year.
I’m not here to write about the total corpus of Donald Trump’s sexism. Certainly it is misogynistic to insinuate that a persistent female reporter is menstruating or insult a female lawyer who needs to pump breast milk by calling her “disgusting,” but those remarks belong in a different category from the type of sexism I wish to discuss. Instead I turn to one of his chief underlying assumptions about women, a strain of sexism that I’ve noticed among the men in my day-to-day life more than any other. It can best be summed up as a pair of premises that the objectifying misogynist holds to be self-evident:
America is in a “boy who cried wolf” situation right now. We’ve grown so accustomed to comparing our presidents with tyrants, or insisting that a candidate’s ascent to power will result in calamity, that even those of us who see an actual wolf in our midst aren’t being taken seriously. The people voting for Donald Trump are well aware of our concerns but – having grown jaded to polemical hyperbole – aren’t able to recognize that the threat is real this time.
It’s hardly surprising, that Breitbart recently referred to William Kristol as a “renegade Jew” in one of its headlines. The conservative website has been shilling pretty hard for Donald Trump over the past year, so it makes sense that the less savory aspects of Trump’s political style would eventually rub off on them.
What is that style, though? Outlets from The Washington Post to The Atlantic have spilled plenty of ink describing The Donald as un-politically correct, but Trump’s rhetoric does more than simply transgress the boundaries of polite conversation. From the moment he launched his presidential campaign until the present, Trump has repeatedly used ethnic labels and stereotypes to both define his opponents and discuss major policy issues. In the process, the Trump movement has trafficked a distinct brand of racial and religious tribalism into American life, one that is entirely comfortable with forgetting about who a person is and instead collectively defining individuals based on what they are.
If you’re a fan of movies and haven’t visited Red Letter Media’s website, you should. The critics there are among the funniest and smartest on the Internet, as evidenced when they started joked about the geopolitics of “Captain America: Civil War.” Founding member Rich Evans summed up the punchline best: “Strangely everyone seems to think that the UN has actual powers. That was the most jarring thing for me.”
Normally when I write about social media, I pepper sources throughout my article. It’s a common habit among pundits; even in casual conversation, we frequently find ourselves pulling up sources to inform our audience and legitimize our position.
I’m mostly going to resist that impulse here, though, because my aversion to Twitter isn’t about some larger social issue. Simply put, I write about politics, and as such have learned to appreciate the importance of nuance and complexity in communication. Neither of these things are possible when you’re limited to 140 characters per message (unless you’re prepared to go through the gymnastics of weaving several tweets together), and as a result I find myself instinctively abhorring the political discussions that exist on that forum.