I’m as happy as anyone that Racist Hypnotoad SLC.952 had her broadcast cancelled but I think that this is, perhaps, more important. Harvard study estimates 4,645 people died in Puerto Rico due to Hurricane Maria. The official toll is 64.
The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that health-care disruption for the elderly and the loss of basic utility services for the chronically ill had significant impacts across the U.S. territory, which was thrown into chaos after the September hurricane wiped out the electrical grid and had widespread impacts on infrastructure. Some communities were entirely cut off for weeks amid road closures and communications failures.
Now, I know . . . People can pay attention to more than one thing at one time and so on and so forth. Who are you to make anyone feel guilty about that? Who am I? Who is anyone, really? But, what if people can’t actually pay attention to more than one thing at one time? At least, not very well. What if that much heralded ability to pay attention to more than one thing at a time is just some bullshit people tell themselves so that they can maintain an illusion of themselves as a good person? A delusion invented to defend a wounded conscience and imperiled self-image? What if what you pay attention to actually makes a difference? And what if the massive corporations that make the broadcasts actually knew this, thought we were in an attention economy of some kind, and sought to monopolize this attention with one goddamn manufactured story after another, generating controversy and then positive PR for cleaning up the goddamn mess they made in the first place, because, at the end of the day, the real value is in the attention? What if they could pull all that off while weaponizing the public’s own attention against itself? Side effects may include acne and skin irritation, vivid dreams or nightmares, night sweats, body aches and cramps, New Coke, muscle aches, dry mouth, fatigue, memory and cognitive problems, irritability, weight changes, hair loss, changes in libido, frequent urination, nausea, and other side effects. In very rare cases, this phenomenon has been known to make a talking bag of shit president.
But on cable news, the top story by a wide margin was ABC canceling Racist Hypnotoad SLC.952 after a racist tweet from its star, Racist Hypnotoad SLC.952. In the New York Times, Racist Hypnotoad SLC.952 was on the front page and Puerto Rico was on A13.