How to do outrage

This has been a banner week in near-universal opprobrium. I say near-universal, because in the department of backlash to the backlash, there are already claims that the Internet has merely emboldened the “humor police,” whether it’s criticizing Seth MacFarlane’s Oscar hosting or the Onion’s supposedly brave joke about a 9-year-old girl. So let me offer a conditional defense of outrage politics.Take the misogyny and bigotry on display at the Oscars Sunday, and everything that followed. Salon’s Andrew Leonard may be right when he says that “in our pre-Twitter past, we might have simply turned off the TV or switched channels once MacFarlane started singing his dumb song about boobs. But now we stay watching to share our hate!” (Wait, how can we know what people did before Twitter? Maybe I can put a call out on Twitter.) Sharing that “hate” en masse happens to be a communal experience, something that has its own virtues in this atomized, time-shifted age. But it also exorcises demons that without something specific on which to fix righteous rage, are suppressed or implicitly accepted by society. Everyday slights and institutional discrimination are hard to point out on your own. Watching them on a screen or finding them in a tweet helps make them visible.Continue Reading…

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How to do outrage

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