Ben Shapiro Works Those Feelings
“Facts don’t care about your feelings,” is the catchphrase that became a mantra, that became meme, that became a sort of incantation used to ward off any and all discussion. The modern usage in the American socio-political lexicon is due mostly to the usage by one Ben Shapiro.
Ben Shapiro, according to his own bio, is “editor-in-chief of The Daily Wire and host of “The Ben Shapiro Show,” the top conservative podcast in the nation. Shapiro is the author of seven nonfiction books…Shapiro was hired by Creators Syndicate at age 17 to become the youngest nationally syndicated columnist in the U.S. He earned a BA in Political Science from UCLA in 2004 and graduated from Harvard Law School in 2007. After working as an attorney for Goodwin Procter LLP, Shapiro began his own legal consulting firm, Benjamin Shapiro Legal Consulting (Los Angeles).”
Those are the facts of Ben Shapiro. The feelings about, toward, and involving Ben Shapiro are legion.
This time, the feelings are flowing over Ben Shapiro’s comments regarding those that might be working more than one job. This isnt really a news story. Oh, it is trending, but this latest version of “LOOK WHAT SO AND SO SAID ABOUT SUCH AND SUCH!!” isn’t news in the traditional sense at all. But first, the clip that got this round of outrage going on the interwebs:
Ben Shapiro: “If you had to work more than one job to have a roof over your head or food on the table, you probably shouldn’t have taken the job that’s not paying you enough. That’d be a you problem” pic.twitter.com/HDKSvIGBfW
— Jason Campbell (@JasonSCampbell) August 14, 2019
So the facts of this setup are we have a 1:28 clip of Shapiro put forth by Media Matters of America. Now for those unfamiliar, MMFA, by their own definition “is the nation’s premier progressive media watchdog, research and information center.” Their brand is recording and monitoring all kinds of media personalities, like Ben Shapiro, and then putting out their takes on what was said, refute and/or dispute what was said, and as a 501(c)(3) fundraise off it all from folks of like minds who find that a worthy cause. Ben Shapiro of course is sitting atop his own burgeoning media concern, with his The Daily Wire platform doing quite well for itself as a conservative multimedia outlet.
As to the content, well… how you feel about Ben Shapiro will probably heavily influence how this 90 seconds of audio/visual content, mined for maximum viral movement, lands for you.
To that point, when I go to write things up, I source the idea with a few folks and the replies were predictable:
“He’s brilliant and they are taking his brilliance out of context, again, and distracting from how brilliant his brilliance is…” comes the defense.
“Eviscerate him,” comes the offended’s counteroffensive.
For facts not caring about feelings, there sure are a lot of folks getting all up in their feels whenever Ben Shapiro is the topic. Which of course is the point, seeing as he has a business to run and a brand to expand, and MMFA isn’t getting poor manning their fundraising ramparts against Shapiro, among others. It isn’t a news story when they go to war, it’s the visible workings of a symbiotic relationship.
As for me, I’m thinking of a different usage of the letter “F” than that of facts and feelings. As a matter of fact, like Grover on letter “G” day on Sesame Street, I’m all out of “F’s” to give.
Seriously. I don’t care.
I am not obliged to care what Ben Shapiro thinks about anything one way or another. People who think I should will no doubt bring up a laundry list of things from Ben Shapiro’s past, and since he has been a national figure since the age of 17 there is plenty there to go through. He has an audience and devoted — some very much so — followers and supporters. Especially among young conservatives, he seems to be someone they flock to, quote, and try to emulate. I don’t know anything about Ben Shapiro the man, outside his biography. I suspect Ben Shapiro the media figure is a different thing from Ben Shapiro the husband and father when the mics, cameras, and lib owning are not turned on. Most people in such positions are just that, playing a character that is some aspect of themselves but cranked up to 11 for marketing reasons. But maybe I’m wrong, and the Ben Shapiro of college debates is the same at the Shapiro family dinner table. Either way, that’s his prerogative, and it seems to be working for him.
He has said some very questionable things. He’s advocated positions that are rather worrisome. To his credit, he has listed some things he has been wrong on, or changed his mind about, which is endearing to his fans and insufficient to his detractors. In a recent high-profile incident he came off very poorly against Andrew Neil in a BBC interview, for which he later apologized and even made light of at his own expense. He’s also been the subject of some truly vile personal attacks both on his ideology, and his Orthodox Judaism. Shapiro has found himself accused of being of the alt-right while at the same time being the alt-right’s favorite person to hate.
In short, you can tell me Ben Shapiro is a saint or argue he is Satan incarnate, but I’m pretty sure he’s a rather intelligent guy building a niche brand in the political world that leads him to some not good places from time to time in the quest to further his reputation and branding. In other words, Ben Shapiro is a human being, like the rest of us, just richer and with a better platform.
That’s the perspective I take into such clips. Clipping 90 seconds from a hour-long show probably means it is lacking context. The reasons I don’t consume Ben Shapiro the product, while trying to keep Ben Shapiro the person in proper perspective, is all right there to behold. Out of those 1:28, 1:20 of it was reciting mostly data and figures that, while they can of course be debated and discussed, are pretty standard talk show fare.
That first 8 seconds, however…
“If you had to work more than one job to have a roof over your head or food on the table, you probably shouldn’t have taken the job that’s not paying you enough. That’d be a you problem,” came the comment.
Everyone is entitled to their opinion on how that lands, but speaking only for myself it’s the tone that turned me off before I even got to considering the meaning. My choosing to not listen to Ben Shapiro frequently has far more to do with that habit than any of his ideological takes. There are people who like that sort of thing. To be honest, in my personal life I am way, way too sarcastic and cutting when I talk, especially when annoyed, stressed, tired, etc. I just don’t have any desire to hear anything said after that. It’s a cutting, nasty, uncalled for put down casually administered. Now, if there was a reason for that from the conversation preceding the clip it’s one thing, but that sort of sarcastic bite is pretty consistent with much of Shapiro’s public speaking. No doubt folks agreeing with him will defend, and might even love it, fighting and “owning”, and debating absolutely everything being of paramount importance to some. I just find it tiresome and pointless and frankly unbecoming. I doubt I’m alone. While it is true his detractors wouldn’t cut him any more slack if he had left off the “you problem” it is that sort of thing that will forever confine his message to people predisposed to wanting their hot takes served up with a side of snark.
The inference of the remark isn’t much better. There are millions of people who wish they could just magically “choose” a better job. I have empathy for such things, as one of the turning points in my own life was stocking the shelves of my hometown Walmart at zero dark thirty in the morning for barely minimum wage after dropping out of college, and hearing the snickers of people I knew as they walked away that I was in such a state. I was able to do something about that, but not everyone can.
Ben Shapiro, wunderkind Harvard Law graduate, of course knows this. He knows his facts, being able to quote them immediately following the quote above. He isn’t totally ignorant to how the rest of the world works; if nothing else as a business man and employer who does, or delegates, the handling of employees who depend on him for their own livelihoods. He didn’t luck into the place he now inhabits as a media titan; there was hard work involved. Ben Shapiro the human being probably wouldn’t tell that to the hard working person behind the fast food counter. But in the persona of Ben Shapiro, Purveyor of Leftist Tears tumblers, it’s just the sort of off-hand putdown that is as much a part of his brand as his conservatism is.
So I pass on consuming much, if any of that sort of thing. And I pass on getting overly worked up over it. And now having written 1400 words on this, I pass on this situation all together. Until the next time we cross the streams of our facts and feelings at the behest of, or to attack, Ben Shapiro.
That’s just how I feel about it.