Friday, March 04, 2005

No bullshit:
Consider O'Reilly's signature schtick, the "No Spin Zone." What does he mean by this? I propose that "No Spin Zone" is merely an FCC-friendly translation of "No Bullshit Zone." O'Reilly is claiming that for at least a few minutes each night, you, the viewer, will not bullshitted. And yet, there's a meta level here, isn't there? Because this is itself bullshit. What's more, there's a level above that too: namely that both O'Reilly and his audience know that it's bullshit. And they don't mind.

This, I think, is a key characteristic of bullshit: not just that the bullshitter knows he's bullshitting, but that the bullshittee also knows it. He may know it for sure, or he may just suspect it deep in his heart, but part of the essence of bullshit is that both sides implictly recognize that the statement in question is, in fact, bullshit. In this way it acts like a compact between spewer and receiver, a shared secret that brings them closer together. Thus the piquancy of bullshit, as well as its popularity.
Kevin Drum

No comments: