Who among us is brave enough to tell us, “Enough.”
Wanted, a "Social Assassin."
I don't know exactly when, but approximately 25 years ago a movement began in this country that predates social media…
I don’t know exactly when, but approximately 25 years ago a movement began in this country that predates social media as well as President Donald Trump. (Regular Donald Trump was alive and well, and was generally regarded as a fool, not to be believed or taken seriously by literally anybody who knew him or knew of him, but more on that later.) The movement didn’t have a name, so I’ll take the liberty of naming it. I’m going to call it the “Being true to yourself,” movement. I believe it is this “movement,” more than any other that has not only opened the door for somebody like the aforementioned Donald Trump to become our president, but it has also lead to the equally heinous backlash known as political correctness. This insincere desire to troll, shade, call out, cancel, or utilize any form of public shaming typically performed via social media has provided much of the fuel for the #MAGA movement that has taken hold in our nation over the past four years. A pox upon both of their houses.
Back in the late 1980s/early 1990s it was somehow decided that as long as you are being true to yourself (A completely empty and inane statement if there ever was), it literally doesn’t matter how stupid, tasteless, boorish, hurtful, selfish, or embarrassing your words, style, or actions are. They are acceptable due to the idea that if what you say is what you believe, and therefore an extension of your inner-self, or the fact that you are simply “telling it like it is,” you get a free pass to do, say, or act however you wish. I submit to a weary and devastated world, we are not better for this.
Once we decided that eating this was television worthy entertainment, that all you needed was chutzpah and literally no talent and you could be famous, the barn door to decency was kicked open, and all of the “asses” were free to run wild amongst us. (You Tube)
Back when this “do whatever you want because you’re being true to yourself” nonsense was first catching fire, I heard an interview on what I’m guessing was the Howard Stern Show (A man with no shortage of chutzpah, but at least he has the talent to back it up.) where a young person was being interviewed about Adolf Hitler. They were asking this clueless individual what they thought about Hitler after they informed the interview subject on all of Hitler’s various actions and beliefs. Incredibly, the interviewee responded by saying that while those weren’t their beliefs, they couldn’t blame Hitler because he was only being true to who he was. Suddenly my mind harkens to the words of the great alternative rock band REM, and their classic tune, “It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine.” (Except I don’t.)
When we can’t call out Hitler for his disgraceful behavior and actions, then we’re all kind of immune to any kind of judgement or criticism, and that’s a society that gets the kind of leadership it deserves. (Mercifully it’s coming to an end) What makes deciphering this issue so difficult is that the meaning behind it was in my opinion well intended. We were sick of being a society where only perfect looking and perfect acting phony individuals received all of the opportunities and accolades. It was time to “clap back” at those who body-shamed and bullied. It was now time to get people to accept themselves and live with their imperfections Well, as it always is in our society, whenever there’s been a problem that has been ignored or overlooked for years and years, when it finally is addressed it leads to an overreaction, and too often the cure is worse than the disease.
This is what women in the 1960s were supposed to aspire to. In order to maintain that weight, the British model Twiggy subsisted literally on twigs, and they couldn’t be from Maple Trees, too much sugar. (Flickr, Labeled for reuse)
Sometime in the early 2000s, perhaps coincidentally just when the internet and social media really began to take off, people decided that whoever you are, and however you are, is okay. This was the “P.C.” overreaction to having been told that you as a person were too fat, too thin, too tall, too short, or too ugly, or too obsessed with Star Trek or Star Wars to leave your parent’s basement. Now, it didn’t matter what you did, or how you looked, it was just fine. Live your best life, even if it means your best life is a mess and something that you should not be advertising. In fact, “Being true to yourself,” is practically “I have a dream” in comparison to “Living your best life.” The latter platitude is not saying “Hey do the best you can,” or “Make the most of what you’ve got,” those would be fine. No, “Living your best life” is a license for being an empty vessel of self-centered vapidity. “Hi everybody, it’s me, Finn, I just shoved 52 ping pong balls in my mouth, #Yola, #Livingmybestlife.” Obviously you’re a quitter “Finn,” otherwise you would have dug deep within yourself and tried to shove number 53 inside your hole.
Leave it to a “Baby-Boomer” to lead the charge against this attitude. On his hilarious yet disturbing HBO program Curb Your Enthusiasm, comic genius Larry David plays a version of himself on the show where he’s living a life, but not necessarily his best life. He portrays a curmudgeon who sees it as his role in society to point out when people have gone a bit overboard, hence the title, “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” David has explained the title as his way of saying that just because you’re happy about something, quite frankly, you shouldn’t be that happy, so tone it down a little bit because nobody cares. After all, it’s not like you cured cancer or something. Thus, David takes it upon himself in episode after episode to go around pointing out to people when they’ve gone too far, or celebrated too much, or done anything that demonstrates poor judgement in public.
The infamous “Muffin Top” episode from Curt Your Enthusiasm. Larry couldn’t take having somebody work for him who was sporting a “Muffin Top.” and he dealt with it as only he could. No, it didn’t end well. (You Tube)
The “Muffin Top,” episode in my opinion should have become a watershed moment in our society. While some may enjoy the look of the muffin top (A fashion statement where one’s belly hangs over their belt but below their shirt…like the top of a muffin) others are put off by such demonstrations of corpulence.. One may ask, “Aren’t we entitled to dress however we want regardless of our body types?” Of course you are, but at a price. Aren’t we, those who have to look at you being held hostage by your questionable choices, particularly if it’s at work or school? However, who are we to tell people what they can do? On the other hand, isn’t society governed by a set of universally accepted standards? This is where Larry David’s character on “Curb” comes in. He is the social assassin. He is the guy who shows up to tell you what you need to hear. He does the dirty work. Think of the AC/DC classic, Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap. Isn’t the whole idea of that song that everybody needs somebody like that in their lives, for better or worse? Someone who cleans up life’s little messes? Wouldn’t it be grand if we could call on somebody to take care of the untidy moments that can cause us consternation and struggle? How many times have we needed somebody to speak up when we are about to do something embarrassing? Haven’t you turned to your friends or significant other at least once and said, “You saw me dressed like that, or saying that, or doing that, why didn’t you stop me? I thought you were my friend?”
Now I know what the “P.C.” police, and the Twitter trolls are thinking. “Oh Rob, so it’s okay to body-shame?” Careful, that’s not what I said. However when did self-awareness become a bad thing? Look, I’ve been chubby, fat, very fat, and almost thin enough where people have asked me if I have cancer, and I’m here to tell you, none of those are compliments. Nobody has ever said, “Wow, look how lean and handsome he looks since he started chemo.” However, it is this attitude that says that we have to smile and push the “like” button and give our tacit approval to any and all behaviors our friends, real or virtual boast about that that gave us four years of presidential buffoonery. Look, it was all a big joke when Trump was running because he was saying all of these outrageous things, and people found it refreshing. Finally, a politician who says what he means. However, once he got into the White House, and everybody saw just how dangerous and evil he was, while also proving to be completely incompetent. it wasn’t so funny anymore. How does a man like Donald Trump win the presidency and create a cult of millions of followers? Well, while it’s not the only reason, “cancel culture” bears part of the blame.
Figuring out Donald Trump’s appeal has been a challenge for Democrats. A big part of the reason is most likely that Trump allowed his #MAGA voters to live their best life and be true to themselves by voting for a racist. That of course is the problem. (VNY)
It became too easy for many to go down the rabbit hole and join Donald Trump in his crusade for power and wealth (For a billionaire, he sure asks for a lot of money, apparently he’s willing to take donations of five or ten dollars, odd behavior for a billionaire). Of course the power and wealth would go to Trump, so what did that leave for his followers? Well, for these people who were sick of being called out on social media or feeling hemmed in at work, or feeling confined when sitting in a restaurant or watching their kid’s sporting event because their opinions and attitudes are unwelcome and subject to ridicule, they finally felt some justification and vindication. No less a public figure than the President of the United States seemed to be saying exactly what they were thinking. No more would these individuals be forced to live under a rock, they could be out loud and proud regarding their very unpolitically correct attitudes and opinions.
Whether this kind of behavior was caused by Donald Trump, or he simply benefitted from those in our country whose beliefs created a fertile soil for his candidacy to grow, it would seem that the epoch of the boorish could only last so long once it had been exposed to the light. The repudiation of Trump in the 2020 election appears to be serving as a correction towards sanity in our nation. The social media “snarkers” on the far left saw their platform suffer a similar defeat to that of the Trumptonians. In America, at the end of a very trying and stressful year, the mushy, moderate middle rose triumphant and carried out the role of social assassin upon the extremists and their intolerant agendas. In fact, if Donald Trump decides to go away and never return, and take his racism with him, I’ll even be willing to look the other way if he were to turn up on a golf course sporting a “muffin top.” After all, it is the season of forgiveness, and good will to all men.