Lectureporn: The Vulgar Art of Liberal Narcissism
Lectureporn. It may make you feel better but doesn't convince anyone of anything they don't already agree with. "So what is lectureporn? It is the media spectacle of a lecture whose audience is the opponent of the lecture’s intended target. Jon Stewart, Trevor Noah, Samantha Bee, Keith Olberman, Rachel Maddow (again, friend of Roger Ailes), Aaron Sorkin, and a whole host of others have built their careers on this form. Lectureporn pulls off an amazing trick: it simultaneously delivers both elements of narcissistic supply. You sit and watch someone ingratiate themselves to you while they eviscerate someone you don’t like who is, in turn, unlikely to watch said lecture. We’ve all seen the the moment when one of these well-coiffed smirks turns to camera three and says, “And I’m talking to you, Red America. You whine so much about taxes and welfare and yet you’re the ones that suck up all that nanny state help. Well, I’ve got news for you. From now on, everytime you say ‘welfare queen,’ or ‘culture of dependency,’ we’re going to personally drive to your house and hold up a mirror to you and remind you that we, the blue states, make your lives possible with our generosity. Be grateful we don’t refuse to pay up because we actually believe in decency.” Or any time an Aaron Sorkin character starts a sentence with, “And by the way,” while talking to any female character ever. The whole point of lectureporn is to get off on a political opponent getting rhetorically owned by the best version of yourself. That’s what the media alleges to present: the best versions of ourselves. But the problem isn’t just that lectureporn is snide, tedious, elitist, lazy, and naive—and it is. The problem is that it’s dangerous. It breeds confirmation bias and a lack of empathy—two things liberals saw backfire in 2016 after years of media class scoldkriegs. Confirmation bias is exactly what it sounds like. It’s the habit of looking at new information strictly in a way that confirms your beliefs. Everyone does this to an extent. But this is the “short term ego boost” part of the ingratiation in narcissistic supply. All you experience is media coverage that psychologically reinforces how you already feel and what you already believe. You feel rewarded for having all the right perspectives and feelings because you’re smart and worthy enough to understand how it really is. Constituents and politicians alike end up confusing the map for the terrain. It has real consequences. The book Shattered and the Netflix documentary Get Me Roger Stone have ended the need for post-mortems on Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign, so all I need to say here is that her defeat, taken with the fact that the Republicans are something like five state legislatures away from being able to rewrite the U.S. Constitution, highlight the danger of lectureporn and the narcissistic pathology it encourages. There are more reasons for our present political reality than lectureporn, but lectureporn is without a doubt a contributing factor. It has shaped the liberal perception of the world. In the Bush era, I remember every arrogant suburban dad big on Monty Python and “REALITY HAS A LIBERAL BIAS”-type bumper stickers telling me they only watched The Daily Show, because it was the only real news out there. Even at 16, I knew that was not a good sign."