I’ve thought for a long time that our Thought Leader Idea Model Marketplace Week Festival Symposium was bullshit and broken, and not just when some whackjob promoting an all-meat diet and talking about lobsters became what passed for an intellectual. However, its bullshit-itude and broken-ness certainly reached an apotheosis with the 24-Hour Bannon Fiasco that is now how the New Yorker Festival will be known.
(There were 600 different ways to NOT FUCK THIS CHICKEN, but there you were, New Yorker, lubing up and heading for the henhouse.)
Workshopping a society by having a bunch of rich assholes talk to each other for hours is a bad way to do things. For starters, until very recently these kinds of setups left out of the conversation the people affected by politics and policies, allowing us all to airily “debate” whether members of marginalized populations are really people, in air-conditioned conference rooms with catered lunch.
You are “engaging” “ideas” instead of “feeding” “people” and I’m sorry but we have a limited amount of time on this planet. I’m a writer, I would never say that telling stories doesn’t matter, but at a certain point that’s all we’re doing. Once you’ve “engaged” with the idea, where are the action items?
Or are those not as attractive as conversations sponsored by major corporations under the guise of “improving society” at which a bunch of lifelong learners nod sagely while being told things they can safely bring up at their next book club? Jesus Christ, this is no way to have civics.
The entire industrial complex of this thing gives me hives, and that’s during normal times, not when we’re at war with goddamn Nazis banning Muslims and deporting law-abiding immigrants and ripping passports from the hands of American citizens at the border. At times like this, do we really want to even throw the party, much less invite Steve Bannon TO IT?
Remnick’s statement, full of sober disappointment at the way “social media” got all het up over silly little things, is just so par-for-the-course. We need active, engaged media leadership asking every single day what people NEED, not what fits in the mold that should have been broken years ago.