January 2, 2006

content is for the weak

Everyone claims to have the answers. Dr. Phil tells us our relationships are falling apart, Michael Moore claims to have moral superiority on every issue, Pat Robertson knows who the government should assassinate, and Bill O’Reilly is waking us up to the War on Christmas.

It seems to me shows that have have “Truth” or “No-Spin” in the title are the ones you have to be most leary of; This isn’t necessarily because the message that’s being peddled is inherently incorrect, but most of the time what is actually being delivered is an opinion, which is the definition of Spin and by presenting itself with a false title, ambiguates the Truth.

But the “Joke Documentary” format avoids telling you what to think by presenting you with something that’s obviously false, or shows you that everything you know isn’t exactly the way you thought it was. I believe this leaves much more room for individuals to think about the issues and form their own opinion, instead of regurgitating talking points.

Given the previous, my motivation for being a big fan of Pen & Teller’s show Bullshit! should be fairly clear; even the title lets you know not to take the show at face value. With a show called bullshit, you do not expect to hear the One True Way something is meant to be. They’re presenting you with information and you decide what to do with it. So what should you actually expect from the show? On the first show I watched (about PETA), Penn presented this excellent example of bullshit:

Everyone is pro-choice and pro-life, it’s for or against abortion that your group is about.”

-Penn Jillette

I highly suggest you check out some of the promos available.  The War On Drugs I find especially fun.

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