On Tuesday night, I was fortunate enough to see U2 in concert at Arrowhead Stadium (sorry, Zurvan). Mrs Thrill is a fanatic and really wanted to go. I like U2 also, but getting to see Beck open for them was just tits.
For the record, I didn’t shoot the video. I’m as non-Millennial as you can be in that I don’t take selfies, don’t take pictures of my food, and don’t see the need to turn my entire dull life into an ongoing video documentary.
You know, prior to the concert, I was convinced that Bono was going to engage in some anti-Trump sermons in between songs. I even told Mrs Thrill that I was going to get run a stopwatch on my phone and add up how much time during the show he would do this.
“God damn it, you asshole. Are you going to ruin this for me?”
“No,” I replied. “I just hate spending money to get divisive morality lectures about how evil our leaders are from a foreign guy who cheated on his wife with teenage girls. I’m hoping he’ll just do his job and sing songs.”
“I’m sure he won’t say anything to offend your precious Donald Trump.”
Well, Mrs Thrill was right, more or less. Early in the show, Bono said, “Right, left, center…all are welcome here tonight.” He spent about one minute talking about how the Irish who came to the US and how they were “the original Dreamers.” That’s about the extent of it. But you know what he said? He spoke briefly about how the Irish came to America and they were protected and sheltered. He thanked America for doing right by those who had left his country during more troubling times. It was touching and I loved it. There were no attacks. No vitriol. No admonitions to punch people (hard to imagine U2 endorsing that, I know). Just a reminder of who we were and can be.
You might think it was foolish of me to get annoyed before the concert about the possibility that Bono would preach about how racist we are for electing Trump or something. After all, U2 is nothing if not an extremely political band whose members engage in a great deal of activism off-stage. You know what it is though? I’m sick and tired of having divisive politics and grievances thrown into my face constantly when I just want to be entertained. I read political crap constantly. I write about politics. I argue politics. Sometimes, I want a break and I’m willing to pay for it.
But no. The angry and politically-correct missionaries of the arts demand that I be taught how to think no matter how seemingly harmless the show or movie or other event I want to watch appears to be on the surface. I love “Stranger Things”, but the cast of the show clearly doesn’t love me back. They seem to relish the opportunity to stick their fingers in my eye with calls to “punch” people who say things they don’t like. I have no doubt that they’ll work their hateful and divisive attitudes into Season 2 and it saddens me because I will quit watching if that’s how it’s going to be. It would be an artistic disaster to ruin a series that could stand for ages over short-term political point-scoring. If they do it, it will be blunt. It won’t be well-written and it won’t serve a good story. It will be about “feelings”, not content. Art and propaganda don’t mesh well.
Even though I don’t watch professional sports, I can plainly see that political propaganda and SJW-style “attack” sensibilities have completely overwhelmed the NFL and sports news media as well. It is to their own detriment.
“I love baseball. We never go to football games,” said the nice lady sitting next to me at the U2 concert after Beck left the stage. We had bonded earlier by making fun of the people sitting in front of us who spent ten minutes taking pictures of themselves from every conceivable angle. “You go to a Chiefs game, and you just constantly hear people shouting ‘fuck’. It isn’t family friendly at all.”
She also didn’t like the overt politicization on ESPN, particularly with regard to football. “It has gotten unbearable,” she said.
“You know, I think most people agree with you. I really do believe that,” I told her. “If I had to guess, I’d say that the whole thing with ESPN started when a few marketing idiots conducted some research and found that potential young viewers are ‘socially aware’ and want to know that ESPN ‘cares’ about issues.”
“But I think they got it wrong and people are now sick of having politics injected into everything at every turn,” I continued, because I am (hypocritically) happy to lecture other people about politics if someone else brings it up first. “It’s when everybody finally realizes that everybody else feels the same way and realizes that they can just declare that they don’t care about every single social issue that gets worked into their entertainment without being portrayed as a ‘bad person’ that this will stop. It will be immediate when it happens. Sort of like how everybody in East Germany thought that Communism sucked but were afraid to say so in public. The moment they realized they all agreed that it had to go, the Berlin Wall was torn down immediately.” She agreed and afterward, we had a great conversation afterward about sociology and music before the show started.
Truthfully, I don’t think that the “Berlin Wall Moment” is that far away. Football fans are abandoning the NFL. As ESPN’s ratings fall and alternatives become available on the Internet, it threatens to drag cable television down with it. Hollywood just had its worst year in decades. The one thing they all have in common is that consumers keep telling them to knock off the virtue-signalling bullshit, but those entertainment outlets refuse to acknowledge that it’s really even a problem, much less a significant cause of their failures. The NFL is most notorious for this and might be the most thoroughly destroyed when ratings and sales finally hit the dirt.
I don’t even believe that this is a conservative gripe. I’ll bet many progressives are sick of it too. In fact, given how upset many are about the 2016 Election, I’d say they have more incentive than conservatives to “escape” from politics. As evidence, I offer the wide reaction from all sides of the spectrum about poor Sergio Dipp.
I’m not going to pile on young Mister Dipp with the rest of the Internet. But I have no doubt that his claim that a coach’s “diversity” in his own background makes him perform better produced an equal amount of eye-rolling on the Left as well as the Right. Hell, saying the guy is better at his job simply because he’s black is downright racist. Imagine if someone said, “That Thrill’s white, male background is helping his blogging performance! What fantastic spelling and clever observations!” They’d probably have Antifa parked on their lawn by the end of the day.
Maybe, just maybe, when Americans on all sides can loosen up again and start finding some activities they can enjoy together while putting politics aside we can start to work on finding common solutions to some of our real problems.
I know I’ve already gone on a long time with this post, but I did want to draw attention to one particular entertainer’s soap-boxing this week. Yes, Kid Rock’s already-legendary Senate speech.
Now, I don’t know how serious he is about running for or winning a Senate seat. However, I thought this speech was fascinating. Not so much because I agreed with what he said or the punk rock way in which he said it, but because he fearlessly addressed some legitimate problems we have in a way voters on both sides could possibly find some agreement on. Of course he was low on specifics, but I like how he framed issues in a way that we could possibly find some agreement on the basics.
Listen to what he said and really think about it. Don’t we all agree that health care should be affordable? Maybe we don’t want single-payer, universal health care, but we already have government provided health care in one way or another. What can we do to make sure that nobody ends up in crippling debt or homeless because they got sick?
Can we seriously consider some options for providing social services to people who actually need it as long as it doesn’t involve redistribution of wealth to deadbeats at the expense of working people? My own opinion is that Americans would be willing to support such programs if they had assurances that the government could keep them free of fraud and abuse. Nobody believes that now, but what would it take to make it credible?
Can we acknowledge that the ruin of the family and the proliferation of single mothers has been a sociological disaster? Is there something we can do collectively to improve the prospects of these kids and discourage their parents from breeding thugs and addicts?
Can responsible people say that racists are trash but that the election has been decided and we have to accept that reality and work together the best we can?
Those were my takeaways from the speech anyway. Maybe it seems like I’m unfairly giving Kid Rock a pass for sermonizing about politics during a concert that people paid to see where I was dreading that U2 might do the same thing, but from the Left. I feel the same way about Kid Rock’s speech as I do about Bono’s brief comments on the Irish “Dreamers”. I saw a heartfelt desire in both men to remind us of who we are as Americans and push us to do the right things together–all of us–for the good of our country and its future. Neither was partisan or hateful.
It resonated with me because I feel like we’ve forgotten how great we can be. We spend too much time being petty and small people who look for reasons to be angry about big things. Previous generations of Americans crushed Nazis and Communists. We call each other “Nazis” and “Communists” and then seriously argue over which group was really worse. That’s literally everything you need to know to understand how dysfunctional 2017 America is. Normal people sit between the two camps, quietly despising both of them and hoping that they don’t get hassled. Then they go home, turn on the electronics, and have the hate jammed into their ears and eyeballs.
Wherever you see the rich and famous peddling partisan poison with the politics of shame and condemnation in the name of “art”, just shut them off. Don’t give them your attention or your dollars. They can’t be allowed to shame us and tear us apart anymore. The powerful and politically-correct are a harmful force because they’ve made it impossible for us to openly and honestly talk about political issues in a productive way. When they are broken and bankrupt, they won’t have the power to do this anymore. They won’t want to. It has to stop one way or the other.
We can stop being this monstrously divided country and start acting like real Americans again, but not until we’re no longer afraid to engage in truthful and constructive discussion about the causes of and solutions to national issues. We’re not going to discover our better nature as a people until we can learn to understand the perspective of others. And that is what art is really all about. Thanks for reminding me and giving me a great show, Bono, you moralizing bastard.