The Myth of Shock Value

November 23, 2012

Multiple Pages
The Myth of Shock Value

The unfortunately named Nadra Kareem Nittle recently penned a popular article instructing the ignorant about how to deal with “racist” relatives. The article was so gay that I couldn’t finish it, but it brought up a much more important question: What do you do with a family full of libtards?

If you’re a black conservative who’s sitting down with relatives for a holiday dinner, opening your mouth could lead to a lynching. Not accepting Obama as the messiah is as blasphemous as putting on a Michael Bolton record. You will be accused of doing it for “shock value.” I don’t know a lot about being a black conservative, but I do know a lot about this ridiculous “shock value” accusation. Here’s a shocker: It’s a myth.

When people use this term, I think what they’re really saying is they have become so used to being preached to by the converted, they are shocked that anyone would think differently. They are oblivious to any other opinions. It reminds me of what psychologists call “perceptual blindness,” which is the “failure by a person to notice some stimulus that is in plain sight.” As the story goes, the Indians were so confused by Columbus’s ships on the horizon, their brains refused to process the image and therefore saw nothing but water. Well, I’m sorry Injuns of the world, but those ships were real.

“I think it’s OK to be divisive if half the country is retarded.”

The shock-value accusation assumes you have appointed yourself provocateur and then take the opposite position of everyone else merely to be difficult. For example, when the Devil’s advocate hears that racism is the most sensitive issue in the country he starts a new magazine called Niggers Stink. Then he makes tons of money being outrageous. Sound plausible? Really? Who would listen to such a person? A writer who constantly blurts out offensive bullshit he doesn’t even believe is going to be ignored by everyone over the age of 11. Why would anyone bother inventing magical beliefs they don’t believe? Who has the time?

I’m told that Michael Savage used to be a liberal but became conservative because it pays more. The same goes for Dennis Miller. He was a young man in an improv troupe. When Malcolm X went from militant racist to groovy liberal, did the brothers say he was only pretending? Well, no, they shot him. 

The assumption that someone is saying something merely to get a rise out of someone else is so boring it makes me want to cry. The same goes for the assumption that someone is only spouting an opinion because he’s paid to say it. Libertarians are constantly accused of sucking the Koch dick, but if your opinions are so flaccid that anyone can buy them, nobody’s going to listen. If someone was so inclined to pretend to be someone they’re not, they’d become an actor or a salesman. Being offensive isn’t lucrative. It’ll lose you clients, cost you your job, and even suck you into a soul-crushing lawsuit

A contrarian isn’t someone who randomly chooses the opposite position. He’s someone who doesn’t shy away when the facts bring him to an unpopular place.

When I first meet someone, I use harsh language and dangerous opinions to weed out the wimps who aren’t worth my time, but I’m still using my own words and opinions. When discussing a topic or writing about it, I’m not attracted to things that are going to shock you. I’m attracted to things that haven’t been done to death. Good writing isn’t about random alarmism. It’s about not being boring. 

Ultimately, the shock-value accusation says more about the shockee than the shocker. Once you can finally convince the shockee that the words you are putting in his head are: a) really there; b) not just there to scare him; and c) true, he’ll usually plug his ears and go, “Blah blah blah blah blah I can’t hear you.”

I’m not exaggerating. I was having my weekly Ann Coulter argument where I subject myself to New Yorkers who assume she only says things to be offensive. This particular idiot’s claim was that she needs to say outrageous things because that gets people talking and gets her back on Fox News. I calmly explained to him that Fox News doesn’t pay her for her appearances and she’s only there to promote her book. Nobody in this entire city seems to get this, but she doesn’t get paid to offend people. She gets paid to write thoughtful books that are factually accurate.

When challenged to come up with one statement in her book that isn’t completely true, he responded: “Here’s the thing—I don’t care if she is factually correct with what she says or not….Her profits are entirely tied to increased division in politics and the population.” Along with this mind-melting statement, he promised to never, ever crack open a page of one of her books.

Oooooh, so THAT’S what’s going on. What we’re REALLY worried about is being “divisive.” We all need to get along so we’re going to start with that end in mind and work backward from there. I’m starting to think that’s why they reelected an incompetent president. He’s half-black and-half white and he’s going to bring us all back together—end of story. In their minds, anyone who does anything that hinders Project Unity is part of the problem, no matter how valid their complaint.

When Welch Allyn, Exide Technologies, Dana Holding Corp., Energizer, Boston Scientific, Westinghouse, Abbott Labs, Research in Motion, Westgate Resorts, Husqvarna, Medtronic, PerkinElmer, Smith & Nephew, Boeing, Center for Hospice New York, Pratt & Whitney, Rocketdyne, Bristol-Meyers, Lightyear Network Solutions, Murray Energy Company, US Cellular, Applebee’s, The Providence Journal Company, Kroger, Hawker Beechcraft, Southeastern Container, Teco Coal Holdings,  New Energy Corporation and Mills Manufacturing, Denny’s, Papa John’s, Lowe’s, and Stryker Corporation say Obama’s reelection is forcing them to lay people off, we’re told we need to boycott them for racism. Their “profits are tied to increased division.” Sorry, but I think it’s OK to be divisive if half the country is retarded. I don’t want to be unified with people who happily march toward the edge of a cliff.

Look, assholes, if I vigorously explain why I disagree with you, I’m not doing it to shock you. I’m not saying it because someone paid me to say it, and I don’t give a shit if it’s not conducive to your grand plan. I only care whether it’s true. Just as all politics should go back to the Constitution, every argument I have inevitably comes back to the same old Jefferson quote: “There is not a truth existing which I fear, or would wish unknown to the whole world.”


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