The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon: It’s All Just High School

Sorry for the lack of posts lately. I started a new job last week and have been settling into that. Then, I got sick and spent all weekend in bed and got really behind in life.

That being said, I’m ready to ease back into the blog thing with a less serious post. I have a few intense topics stalked up, but I’m not ready with them yet. So, for now, let’s talk: the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.

I can’t pretend to be a longtime Fallon Fan. I never really watched him besides the few viral videos that circled the internet, which I always enjoyed. Last week, I watched some of his debut week on the Tonight Show and really enjoyed it. He’s a really excited guy who just seems amazed by life all the time, and I find that amusing.

I made sure to watch the Justin Timberlake episode with History of Rap 5

While laughing at the rap and subsequent interview I admitted, “I would really actually hate these guys in real life.”

As they sat there laughing at their own jokes, they reminded me of those guys in the back of the class in high school. They found themselves extremely funny, but were really just kind of annoying. Those guys gathered enough people around them that thought themselves  hilarious and, together, formed some sort of “in-crowd.”

Way outside the in-crowd sat nerdy girls like me. Guys like Fallon and Timberlake made me feel, well, nerdy, uncomfortable, and incredibly out of place in high school. These were the people I avoided as much as possible.

But now, when I watch the Tonight Show, I find it entertaining. These guys, who would be obnoxious in real life, are funny on TV. Yes, they are good performers, but I think we like it more because, while watching them, we feel part of the “in-crowd.” They are the cool guys. And liking them makes us feel cool and in the know.

In the end, it’s all really just high school.

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Considering Michael Sam

 

Mizzou Senior, Michael Sam, made history last week as the first potential NFL player to come out as gay before the draft. Reactions were mixed, but many questioned, “Why now?”

Sam answered that question in his interview with the New York Times. Scouts had already questioned Sam’s coaches about his sexuality. “I just want to make sure I could tell my story the way I want to tell it,” he told the New York Times. “I just want to own my truth.”

He is saying that the point of coming out when he did was not as much about attention now, as it was about avoiding unwanted attention later.

Sports Illustrated wrote a story on how Sam’s announcement could affect his draft prospects.

“I don’t think football is ready for [an openly gay player] just yet,” said an NFL player personnel assistant. “In the coming decade or two, it’s going to be acceptable, but at this point in time it’s still a man’s-man game. To call somebody a [gay slur] is still so commonplace. It’d chemically imbalance an NFL locker room and meeting room.”

So the two extremes are as follows: on one side, Michael Sam cannot play in the NFL and would cause a “chemically imbalanced” distraction. On the other side, Sam is a hero and trail blazer.

For one thing, I would like to point out that Sam’s announcement has already brought media attention to himself and the NFL. This is obvious by the fact that I, someone who does not keep track of football, know his name. The question is whether this media attention, along with Sam’s sexuality, will be a distraction.

I keep envisioning this scene in the movie 42. In this scene, Jackie Robinson is sitting alone in the locker room after the game waiting for the rest of the team to shower. He always lets everyone shower first. When a fellow player asks why he is sitting alone he responds, “I don’t want to make anyone uncomfortable.” The fellow player shrugs it off and tells him not to wait anymore. In that moment, Robinson is accepted as part of the team. Robinson created a lot of media attention and could be considered a distraction, but I keep wondering if Sam will gain that acceptance moment.

It seems he already has. From what I can tell (and I don’t typically follow these sorts of things) Mizzou had a great season, even though all the coaches and players knew Sam was gay. It did not distract their game or tear apart their team, and the school stood with him – quite literally. Last week, his classmates “Stood with Sam” to block a protest from the Westboro Baptist Church, and he received a standing ovation while receiving the team’s trophy during a basketball game.

Sam is a trail blazer, in that he is doing something no one has ever done before: entering the draft out of the closet. The question here, is whether we at the point where his sexuality should not matter.

Everyone keeps bringing up the locker rooms. Sports, and everything that goes with them, are a very hetero-normative arena. Football in particular is extremely hetero-normative with its muscular male players and sexy girl cheerleaders. That hetero-normality must be acknowledged in order to make adjustments for Sam, and other homosexual athletes. Those adjustments may include a different locker room setup. This should be done in a way not to “protect” straight athletes, but also make LGBT athletes comfortable.

Sam has already proven that by not making homosexual athletes welcome in professional sports, we are potentially missing out on great players.

Sam is a good football player who has proven his sexuality is not a factor in the game. If a team decides not to draft Sam based on his sexuality, that would be discrimination. The truth is that we, as a country, have not completely decided whether that discrimination is wrong yet. So coaches and players can still make comments about “chemical imbalances.”

The “NFL player personnel assistant” in the Sports Illustrated article admitted gay players in the NFL will  be acceptable in “a decade or two.” The acceptance has to begin somewhere, and will it begin now? We are about to find out. Michael Sam will definitely gain more media attention than other college seniors entering the draft this year, but this does not mean he can’t play a good game or help his team succeed. 

Considering The Bachelor

A couple weeks ago I was listening to one of my favorite NPR podcasts, Pop Culture Happy Hour. In this particular episode they were discussing reality shows, and I pulled a quote from Linda Holmes, the show’s host, that I really like.

People get up on their big old high horses about how much they hate reality shows when they don’t know the first thing about what they’re talking about. They don’t have any idea… You’re slathering your thick coat of righteousness on what is really just your disdain for something you don’t know anything about.

The reason I really like this quote is because I was that person on my high horse looking down on your disgusting, trashy Bachelor that I knew nothing about.

My family was never Bachelor watchers. In fact, the show made a few members physically angry. Our argument stems from the “sanctity of marriage” argument. How can someone argue that gay marriage is ruining the sanctity of marriage when they watch Juan Pablo make out with 7 different girl in two hours?

But then, when I graduated college last semester jobless and clueless, loving family friends invited me into their home.  On Monday, when they flipped the Bachelor on, I sat down to watch. I find it a good rule of thumb to not slather your thick coat of righteousness on people who are feeding you.

So I started begrudgingly watching the Bachelor. And then I started liking the Bachelor. And then I found myself in philosophical conversations about which girl Juan Pablo would pick. Crap. This is what one would call “sucked in.”

And I realized this show has as much to do with love and marriage as a horror movie.  They’re just both about intense discomfort  and horrible writing. It’s like a train wreck and you just can’t look away.

This should not be read as a defense of reality shows, but more of a lesson of “don’t knock it ’til you try it.” Considering the Middle is really about thinking of something I’ve never cared to consider before.

Yes, the Bachelor is trashy and stupid. But, last Monday, after multiple crappy job interviews, when I was staring a future of “paper or plastic?” in the face, I really just wanted to watch something trashy and stupid. Don’t judge me until you’ve watched it, and I promise not to judge you for your guilty pleasure.

With that, I dismount my high horse, clean up my slathering of righteousness, get into my PJs and go watch something trashy and stupid.

Considering the Middle of the Cookie Dough Oreo

Last month, the Cookie Dough Oreo was announced. Like many cookie-dough loving, Oreo eating people, I was ecstatic. It’s basically the magical cookie you never knew you wanted, but once announced realized you always hoped for.

Going to the store became a hunt for the Cookie Dough Oreo, but to no avail. Oreo’s evil marketing campaign announced the Oreo flavor weeks before it was released. While scouring the internet for the release date, I ran across a few reviews. I was devastated to discover no one was overly fond of the new Oreo, saying that “Cookie Dough” tasted more like coffee than anything else.

So I gave up on finding and enjoying the Cookie Dough Oreo. What was the point?

A few days later, I received a text from my friend saying he had found the cookies.I didn’t want to be Negative Nelly, so I chose not to disclose what I knew about the horrible flavor. Plus, I still wanted to try them. Maybe they wouldn’t be that bad?

And they weren’t. They were pretty good, especially compared to what I was expecting. So I ate too many. Friends were not so impressed, however. Not having heard what I had about the cookies, they were disappointed.

Experience is all about perception and expectation. If you expect something to be bad, you will only see the negative. If you expect something to be good, you will only see the positive. Look at basically any political debate right now and you will see that that is true. If we try to remove expectation and remove our own biased perceptions, we achieve objectivity. This is nearly impossible as human beings, but as I go through this blog, I think that is basically my goal. I try to remove my bias and my expectations and consider the middle of an argument, and of the Cookie Dough Oreo.

Considering Certainty

Last week, I read a piece in the New York Times titled “Dangers of Certainty.” In it, Simon Critchley recaps a show from the 1970s called  the “Ascent of Man.” It’s hard to recap a recap, but it ends with a clip of the scientist in the show visiting Auschwitz. He says that the horrible acts committed were caused by people who believed they had complete knowledge – and complete certainty.

“When we think we have certainty, when we aspire to the knowledge of the gods, then Auschwitz can happen and can repeat itself. Arguably, it has repeated itself in the genocidal certainties of past decades.”

On a related note, I watched the Oscar-nominated documentary The Act of Killing over the weekend. The movie follows Indonesian death squad leaders who committed mass murders in the 1960s. These men are  celebrities in their towns and country. The movie makers invite them to reenact their killings  in a Hollywood style for the film.

The movie is weird, but the most unsettling thing about the documentary was the nonchalant attitude in which these men recreated their mass murders. There is no sorrow or remorse. Even now, 50 years later, these men think they were right, or at least justified, in their mass killings.

In each historical horror there is one underlying similarity: certainty.

One does not commit mass murders of Jews unless they are certain it is right.

One does not set fire to a bus in Alabama unless they are certain those inside are wrong.

One does not fly a plane into a skyscraper they are certain it is the right thing to do.

I am not saying that proclaiming certainty on a subject automatically leads to atrocities. I think it is just important to realize that as right as we think we are on some things, these people believed they were just as right.

The scariest part about the current media and political climate, to me, isn’t that we don’t agree. The problem isn’t that we have different ideas or opinions. It isn’t that we have different goals. The scariest part to me, is that we are all certain we are right, and the Other is wrong. Somewhere along the way, we all forgot to say “I don’t know.”

As I’ve gone through this experience, I don’t always love not knowing exactly what I think. Certainty is sometimes more comfortable. But as the philosopher, Voltaire, said, “Doubt is an uncomfortable condition, but certainty is a ridiculous one.”

Considering Obamacare

Let’s talk about Obamacare. It was bound to happen eventually right?

Last week, the Congressional Budget Office reported  that Obamacare would lead to a reduction in the workforce of 2.5 million jobs and it took approximately 2.5 seconds for everybody to freak out.

To be clear, this does not mean that 2.5 million people will now lose their jobs. The report states, “The estimated reduction stems almost entirely from a net decline in the amount of labor that workers choose to supply, rather than from a net drop in business’ demand for labor.”

Translation: The reduction in the workforce comes from people voluntarily leaving their jobs or reducing their hours because they no longer need employer-provided health insurance. This is not a job loss from employers reducing hours or laying people off.

The real question, then, is how does Obamacare affect people’s employment decisions?

Paul Krugman, liberal op-ed columnist for the New York Times, said that,  “First of all, we’re mainly talking about reduced hours rather than quitting the work force.” More people will choose to work less hours.

And why shouldn’t they?  Congressman Keith Ellison (D-MN) claimed that Americans work too much – more than any other industrialized country in the world. And an ABC News report from last year agrees, stating we work “more than the English, more than the French, way more than the Germans or Norwegians. Even, recently, more than the Japanese.”

The White House argues that, because of Obamacare, people can finally retire and leave jobs they don’t wany, but have been locked into for health insurance reasons. The line goes that Obamacare empowers people to pursue their dreams. 

Personally, this makes sense to me. I just graduated college and am figuring things out. During this time and for the next few years, I can stay on my parents’ healthcare because of Obamacare. The goal is to choose a career I really enjoy  now, and by the time I am 26 be better prepared to afford my own health care. I am not taking  government handouts or costing taxpayers money. I’m just figuring things out without the concern of whether I can afford a doctor’s visit. This will be better for my short term stress level and long term health.

Republicans do not agree people voluntarily leaving the workforce is a good thing. In a Forbes article, Grace-Marie Turner argued that the CBO report proves that Obamacare is a disincentive for people to work. “[How] can we pay people not to work and expect the economy to thrive?”

Whether healthcare is a form of payment, I’m not sure, but I’ll go with it.

In O’Reilly’s interview with President Obama that I discussed last week, O’Reilly claimed the biggest difference between the two of them was that O’Reilly was against a “nanny state” and the President thought  the government should solve people’s problems. This idea that people can gain healthcare without working as hard fits into that narrative.

I’d like to have a nice little bow-like paragraph to tie this article up with, but I don’t. While writing these posts, the most unsettling thing at times is not making a concrete decision. I’m learning, slowly but surely, to consider two sides an argument and being okay saying, “I don’t know .” I’m learning, especially today, that more than one person can actually be right – it’s not just a cute idea.

As I’m writing this the White House announced that the employer mandate will be delayed again. Even from the middle, one thing is sure: this conversation is not over.

Considering Sochi

Ahh the Olympics. Celebrating the human spirit and an artificial sense of world unity. For the next two weeks all eyes will be on Sochi as we enjoy the Olympics.

Friday night, Russia showed off its power and pride at the Opening Ceremonies. In the spotlight were ballroom dances,  fancy projectors, and gay propaganda laws. Let’s talk about the latter.

ABC news explained the law and its consequences. Basically, the goal is to restrict minors from seeing anything that would communicate that gay relationships are normal. This means gay rights protests and even gay public displays of affection are illegal.

The law itself was a way for not-always-popular Vladimir Putin to gain support with traditional, conservative Russians. A Wall Street Journal article detailing the law states, “In a recent survey by the state-run Vtsiom polling center, 88% of respondents said they agreed with the ban. A poll by the independent Levada Center in May found that 47% of Russians thought that gays should not enjoy the same rights as heterosexuals. ”

Russians themselves were in favor of the law when it passed last June. The rest of the world didn’t make much noise.

Enter the Olympics. The global community focuses on the huge country with its imprisoned rock stars and broken special effects. And for two weeks we care.

Google debuted a colorful Olympic logo Friday.

German President, Joachim Gauck, boycotted the games because of the law.

President Obama sent gay representatives for both the opening and closing ceremonies.

And Putin isn’t really concerned. Because he knows that just like in Beijing, and every other time the Olympics are in a controversial area, we will forget.

So on one hand, the Olympics are good for gay Russians because for two weeks we really care about them.

On the other hand the situation is good for Putin and the government because for only two weeks we really care about them.

For most of us, when the two weeks are over we will get back to our day-to-day lives. And if you’re like me and live in Utah, or any of the other 8 states in red on this map, you have similar anti-gay propaganda laws prohibiting the discussion of homosexuality in schools.

The bottom line is, what I consider about the Russian gay propaganda laws doesn’t really matter because Russia will only change if Russia wants to. And Russia doesn’t really have any pressure to change when a significant portion of the US has its own discriminatory laws.

So maybe in the future I will consider the validity of those laws, but right now I’m going to go root for some skaters whose names I will forget in a couple weeks.

Considering Media Alternatives

After reading yesterday’s post, several readers expressed frustration at the current media situation. My parents and grandparents tell me of a time when you used to turn on the evening news and feel sure you knew what was going on. Not only that, but it seems your neighbors all watched the same news so no one argued about facts, because everyone had the same facts. What could that have been like?

There is an argument to be made that the diverse media landscape is better than the “one-size-fits-all” news hour. Bias media isn’t evil. As  a liberal-minded 17-year-old going to Orem High School in Utah County, Jon Stewart was kind of a daily haven for me. But maybe we should have some unbiased alternatives as well.

I want to compile a list – a list of Objective Media Alternatives. From what I can tell, I have readers from all corners of the political spectrum. Together, we could probably come up with quite a few options. So where do you go for unbiased news?

I will start. My favorite is AP 10 Things to Know for Today. Each morning, AP publishes a new list. If I have time for nothing else, I can at least know 10 things each day, ranging from politics to entertainment to sports.

If I do have time I like to listen to the Diane Rehm Show: Friday News Roundup. She discusses each week’s news with a panel of journalist that try to represent all facets of the political spectrum. There’s two hours: national and international. This can be downloaded online or on iTunes.

So now it’s your turn! What news source do you watch/listen to/read? Is there one you wish everyone would know about? Vote for all your favorites or add your own! Share with friends and family to get a wide range of options. I’m excited to get our list together!

PS – I may do this kind of thing later on, but not directly on the blog. To keep updated, please like on Facebook or Twitter.

Considering Bill O’Reilly’s Superbowl Interview

Each year, on Super Bowl Sunday, the President grants an interview to the network airing the big game. Since that channel was Fox this year, Bill O’Reilly conducted a 10 minute pre-game interview with the President.

Much like Mitt Romney and Glenn Beck, I’ve never dedicated a lot of time to understanding Bill O’Reilly. He is objectively combative, often arguing with his guests. Those who watch him love this about him, and his critics (me) detest it.

For those who haven’t seen the interview, let me try and summarize it.

O’Reilly begins by saying he wants to get the President “on the record” about a few things. He then asks about the botched healthcare roll out, Benghazi, and an IRS scandal. The President replied by saying they tried to fix the healthcare.gov website as fast as possible, called Benghazi an act of terror the day after the attack, and there is no IRS scandal.

Many commented  on O’Reilly’s interrupting, with one newspaper reporting it happening 42 times in 10  minutes. Many headlines included  President Obama’s criticism that scandals keep arising because Fox keeps bringing them up.

With that summary, I will try to consider the whole interview from the middle.

In days leading up to the interview, O’Reilly said he wanted to be “precise” and ask poignant questions that wouldn’t let the President speak too long. Pundits, especially O’Reilly, do not usually have one-on-one  interviews with the President, so he wanted to keep control of the 10 minutes he had. And yes, our President has been known to struggle with short answers (see the first debate with Mitt Romney). So from O’Reilly’s view, he wanted to keep the President on point. I can sympathize with that.

Now on to the point that O’Reilly was trying to stick to. Not being a regular O’Reilly viewer myself, the questions kind of confused me. Healthcare.gov rolled out 4 months ago, the IRS story broke about 9 months ago, and the embassy in Libya was attacked 17 months ago. Each of these subjects have had their own separate hearings. Why bother talking about them?

First of all, further research proved I was wrong. It seems congress, and particularly House Republicans, are reintroducing the IRS scandal. So that question makes more sense.

As to the other questions, Fox News analyst, Howard Kurtz, hypothesized as to why O’Reilly asked what he did. CNN aired an exclusive interview with President Obama the Thursday and Friday before. This interview was longer, and more in depth. As Kurtz points out, “CNN’s Jake Tapper…asked solid questions but made little news.”

Sensational questions sell. Long interviews do not.

There may be another reason besides ratings why O’Reilly legitimately thinks the President hasn’t discussed the other “scandals” before: O’Reilly might watch Fox News and/or MSNBC.

A new study shows that those who watch Fox News as their primary news source actually know less about national and international events than those who watch no news. MSNBC viewers also knew less than the news-less about international events, although do a little better on national events.

These news stations are fun to watch for us political nerds. However, they not only polarize us, they don’t seem to keep us informed very well, liberal or conservative.

I will say this post was kind of hard. I had to work not to jump down O’Reilly’s throat as he kept interrupting the President. Looking for his point of view took more time than anything else so far. This project of impartiality is way more time consuming than I thought! It began with attempting to watch the interview without bias, and then hours looking for answers to the question “Why did he do that?”

What did you think of the interview? Do you think there is a place for biased news channels in our media?

Considering Richard Sherman

Let’s take a break from politics for a minute and talk about a subject in which I am not nearly as fluent: sports.

Anyone who knows me will know that remaining impartial during major sporting events is not something I would usual find very difficult. However, I am currently living with some die-hard Seattle Seahawks fans. Since the Super Bowl produced very little to talk about, I want to back up a few weeks to the Richard Sherman interview with Erin Andrews.

Okay, I watched that game and interview live (I know, crazy right?).  We rewound it to try and understand what he said. We laughed. And then we ate dessert. Possibly because we are Seahawks and Richard Sherman fans, did we not realize until later the impact that interview would have.

Once again, society broke into two camps. In one camp, Sherman was a thug, psycho, and all around horrible person. The 12th man (and others) quickly pointed out that he was a Stanford grad, good player, and one of the most likable guys in the NFL.

So what’s between a thug and a saint? A human.

In that moment, he did sound like a crazy person. He had just beat the 49ers and Crabtree for a spot in the Super Bowl so humility would have been much better. Obviously.

On the other hand, he had just beat the 49ers and Crabtree for a spot in the Super Bowl. He was overly excited and reacted not unlike Kristen Bell meeting a sloth. Irrationally.

This whole incident speaks more media’s ability to define a person’s entire existence by a 20 second clip. The rant didn’t make him a bad person, and all the evidence people brought to his defense doesn’t necessarily make him a wonderful person. He’s just a person.

In an article Sherman wrote to try and explain what happened, he stated, “It was loud, it was in the moment, and it was just a small part of the person I am. I don’t want to be a villain, because I’m not a villainous person.”

So the next time an athlete reacts with passion, or a politician says something stupid, or Miley Cyrus performs I am going to try to remember they are human, and we all do stupid things sometimes. My feeling is that I will have an opportunity to test this new resolve and write about it very soon, considering something like similar happens nearly every week.

What did you think of Sherman’s interview?