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home Language In Defense of John Oliver and the Current Year

In Defense of John Oliver and the Current Year

One thing y’all gotta know about lp, I love me some Beastie Boys.  Not only did they make a lot of great music over the years, but the oral history of the Beasties contains a lot of hilarious and insightful stories.  One of my favorite stories is the making of (You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party) which they talk about in the book that is included in the Sounds of Science boxed set.

Now I don’t have it on me so I’m going from memory, but basically they recorded the track as a spoof on dude bro party culture. When they showed it to Rick Rubin he understood the joke, and added the guitar track to the mix, effectively putting the finishing touches on this parody of party rock culture. The track, of course, was a massive commercial success – something that none of them expected (see Oral history link above).  Which ever Beastie it was that wrote that particular memoir (sorry can’t remember) remembered being at a show and looking out at the crowd during a performance of that song, and seeing a slew of 20 something dude bros with backwards baseball caps and beers in hand going absolutely nuts and loving the crap out of it, in a totally non ironic way. “We had become the very thing we were making fun of.” An interesting cautionary tale.

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Now, have you ever read one of those feminist confession blogs where they talk about how I’m a feminist but I love being catcalled, or I’m a feminist but I love demeaning porn or I’m a feminist and I have rape fantasies?  And you think to yourself, holy shit you are bad at feminism. Why do you even bother? Why does anyone bother with an ideology that tries to make you feel shitty about liking anything that’s fun or sexy? Gawd feminism is the worst. I have found myself thinking that. But I digress.

One thing I want to remind everyone, is that the overarching theme and message of this blog, is that we are all hypocrites in some way at some point. If we mock someone for doing something, then we will inevitably, like the Beastie Boys, one day find ourselves guilty of the behavior we mocked. Which brings me to a dirty confession of my own. Two, in fact.

My name is Lyndon Perry, I fight against the regressive left, and I like John Oliver. Not only that, but I don’t find the ‘current year’ particularly cringe worthy. At worst it’s a lazy attempt at humor, like ‘Really?‘. But I’m getting somewhat ahead of myself, as some of you readers might be asking yourselves who doesn’t like John Oliver? Well, #GamerGate, apparently. But first let’s talk about current years.

$CURRENT_YEAR is a meme that has been rising in popularity lately. It is essentially a non sequitur fallacy wherein you attempt to reinforce or even completely explain your position on a certain topic simply by invoking the current year. Some recent examples that have caused the meme to surge in popularity include Justin Trudeau using Current Year to explain his cabinet choices, and Barack Obama invoked it when discussing the wage gap.

While most people in the mainstream have cheered these pithy remarks, meanwhile in the anti-progressive counterculture, jimmies have been noticeably rustled and the dank meme has risen. Lots of youtube’s greatest shitlords have weighed in on the controversy. Vernaculis made a compelling video. Sargon touched on it at some point, I think and Thorium made a cool compilation and year end wrap up dedicated to the meme.

But apparently, if Know Your Meme is to believed, the saying has humbler origins. John Oliver, aka Mr. Current Year himself, somehow takes a huge amount of credit for this. According to Know Your Meme, John Oliver has a “frequent resort to reminding his viewers of the present year as a straw man argument…” (confirmed : KYM doesn’t understand strawmen). So I decided to spend the day at work today listening to John Oliver’s show. I am sorry to say that I did not hear the meme a single time. I did laugh heartily quite a bit tho. That Snowden interview was gold. Digging deep, there was one clip from Sep 2014 where he uses the saying.

The fact that someone could use the same joke/point/argument twice in the span of a couple years and this lead to a meme named after him where a wiki refers to his ‘frequent resort’ says more about the internet than it does John Oliver:

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Figure 1.0 : A reditor demonstrates the fallibility of the karma system
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Figure 1.1 : Funny how that works.

But is this usage of the CurrentYear™ really as scorn worthy as all that in the first place? I don’t really think so to be honest. First off, in case you guys didn’t know it’s 2016. I rest my case. But no, seriously, It’s 2016. Let’s put that in context. We’re a few months past when Back To The Future promised us flying cars and hover boards.  Fifteen years passed the birth of the star child. Jesus people, in just 47 years we’re going to have warp drives and meet aliens. So it is kind of crazy that in 2016, we have elected representatives in the UK tweeting that women who want to bare their breasts deserve to be molested. Or, uh…ok that’s all I got. I’m actually pretty tolerant when it comes to people saying offensive shit, and really only tend to hold elected reps to a higher standard. But you get the point right? Like from a progressive perspective?

The point is that progress is something that happens over time, and hopefully in a mostly linear fashion. So if I were to be like ‘black people shouldn’t be allowed to vote’ it would a fairly valid statement to consider that a weird position for someone to hold in 2016, whereas in 1965 that would have been considered a defensible position. See how that works? Social attitudes change over time and the current year meme is meant to reflect that.

I can hear you know, “Jesus lp, we get it, we’re not stupid, we know why people say that.” Ya but do you tho? Because some people seem to think merely invoking the current year is cause enough to disregard anything they have to say. This is the impression I’ve gotten at least. This is perilously close to the “fallacy fallacy”, which is the argument of basically saying “you have presented me with a fallacy, therefore your entire position is compromised.” Two non sequiturs don’t make a closed case.

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Which brings us, finally and laboriously, to the impetus for this post. Recently a petition has been making the rounds online with the goal of replacing John Oliver with a woman. Admittedly, when I saw it, I laughed. It’s a funny jab. You hold the progressive to their own standards and see how they like it. Like maybe Joseph Gordon Levitt should split the money he makes acting with all the women on the set until everyone is getting paid the same since he loves Marxist feminism so fucking much. How would you like those apples, Joseph Gordon Levitt? Ya, didn’t think so. Look, I’m not saying I don’t like people who make way more money and presumably crush way more pussy than I do…but I don’t like Joseph Gordon Levitt.

Now, obviously the petition is meant to be a bit of fun. A good humoured ribbing. But that hasn’t stopped it from getting, at the time of this writing, 3,557 signatures – placing it just 1,443 short of the 5,000 signatures it would need to…have 5,000 signatures. And while I’m sure most of the people signing it are just getting in on the joke, I’m also sure some of them are not.

repalcementWhich brings us full circle to our cautionary tale of the Beastie Boys and the unexpected consequences that can arise when we set out to make some lols with good intentions but end up taking the joke too far. Because if there’s one thing that I hate about SJW’s, it’s their love for getting people fired, or silenced (censored) for saying things that they don’t like. As a huge fan of free speech, this is one of the biggest issues for me in this culture war we all find ourselves in. And I have noticed this trend lately and it is troubling. Recently I saw this posted on my Facebook by one of the MRA pages I follow:

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Now for those of you that don’t know, MUH Men’s Rights Activism was a page that purported to be about making fun of MRA’s, but mostly tended to just post stuff demonizing men in general. I guess a few people took umbrage with that and decided to report them. I’m not going to lose any sleep over this, I had a run in with these people myself and when I humiliated them with logic they responded by banning me. So I see this as a taste of their own medicine, however…I do not endorse reporting these people or trying to silence them. I love free speech, I’ve spoken about it before. I understand that Facebook isn’t as liberal with this as I am, but still it takes people complaining for anything to happen. You know who loves to complain? SJW’s.

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If we want to beat these people, we have to be better than them. We have to hold ourselves to a higher standard. I mean, come on guys, it’s 2016.

Go to Part 2: It’s idiomatic, you pedantic morons

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