We lack an ounce of nuance


Image courtesy of Design Indaba

Casey Neistat uses his platform to vlog his daily life, as well as recently use it to promote his political stance this election cycle.

Edin Sehic, Staff Writer

“FDT” or using its intended title “F**k Donald Trump” by YG & Nipsey Hussle is a song that only could have been born of this political climate. A culture of dichotomies, dramatics and tabloid-driven stories that aim to be topical and more extreme than the last. 

There’s a complete lack of nuance in society right now, we’re either for or against something, Trump Or Hillary, Black Lives Matters or Blue Lives Matter, feminist or meninist, etc. If someone expresses any sort of skepticism against any idea, it automatically makes them against it. Expressing any sort of grievance lands them a label, no matter how well mannered their intentions.

Despite the well-intentions this election has brought some laughable events to light. There’s the whole fiasco with classic internet meme “Pepe the Frog” and his recent categorization into being labeled a symbol of hate by the Anti-Defamation League, which Nathan Hogan 18′ was at odds with this recent announcement “I think it’s wrong, Pepe is not a hate symbol. jokingly adding that “he’s a symbol of beauty”.  This whole election cycle sounds like Onion articles had come to life, from Clinton’s cringey attempts to appeal to the youth, to the actual circus that is the Alt-right. 

This isn’t unique to this political season in it’s effect on culture, every generation has had it’s own identity based on the politics of their respective times, the Vietnam war brewing a whole slew of anti-war songs, and the 80’s and 90’s bringing heavy metal, and campy violence to protest family values and the suburban lifestyle, each creating distinct “for and against” camps of their respective times.

This isn’t any different today, but it isn’t music or movies being the only driving force, its the culture at large pushing dichotomies. With the rise of social media (especially Twitter) it’s extremely easy to find people with whom you agree with, and lock yourself in this echo chamber of tweets and status updates. Old T.V. networks like MTV now broadcast shows like Decoded, which attempts to tackle big social issues in digestible, non-nuanced ways, pushing politics as something that everyone should be involved in, pushing certain political ideals as the norm.

That “Everyone should be involved in politics” idea isn’t dismissed either in today’s society, Just a few days ago popular Youtube vlogger Casey Neistat, made a video on who he is voting for, wholly endorsing Hilary Clinton. Now this isn’t too surprising, just another vlogger endorsing their preferred candidate isn’t ground-breaking, but Casey took it a step further saying every popular Youtube personality should make their own statement endorsing Clinton. Pushing this notion that if you don’t get involved you’re responsible for your lack of action and the election of Trump.

Casey is just representative of a growing force in our culture, a force that’s saying you can’t be neutral, you have to pick a side. People will say things like “You not voting is a vote for Trump” or “You not voting is a vote for Hillary”, and god forbid you consider a third option, you might as well stay home, and thus the vicious cycle starts again. To those who argue that a no-vote is a vote against their candidate, I will push this counter-notion: A no-vote is just that, a no-vote, that’s all it can mean. Second: this mentality is just decisive and creates toxicity because it bullies people into following ideas that don’t align with who they are as a person just so they aren’t ostracized by either side.

Casey’s video is just one example of how pop culture is also shaping how politics is fought, as I mentioned before, politics has boiled down to taglines and topical headlines rather than a discussion of policies. Trump has built his entire platform on this precedent, being loud and hard to ignore, despite his distinct lack of policy talk. He’s marketed himself on little to nothing, using his polarizing personality to appeal to those disenfranchised with the political system, those against PC culture and hypersensitivity in the media adore him, so much so that every horrible thing that he’s said somehow deepens these people’s opinion of him. Attempts to bring him down, seemingly only strengthens his platform.

Trump has used the media to give himself the attention he needs to distinguish him from the other candidates Jeb and Ted wish they had the coverage Trump had. At the time of the RNC more than 2100 CNN reports had been about Trump, it’s been topical to talk of Trump, whether through twitter memes, through song lyrics, and through fruitless debates online and offline.

Hillary Clinton from the other side has largely marketed herself on her credentials from her time in office, and on the fact that she would be the first female president, and that in itself has drawn people to her. Her campaign slogan “I’m with her” speaks a greater force in culture spearheaded by the feminist movement, calling for an equal playing field for men and women. Pop icons ranging from Katy Perry, to Leonardo DiCaprio, to Robert De Niro, using their iconic status to sway voters to vote for Clinton to be our first female president.

Coverage and credentials isn’t all this election has been about however. Allow me to devolve the two candidates to a bastardization of modernist philosophy. Modernists believes through work, meaning is found, media must go through “trials” to have value. Modernists base their beliefs on traditional values, that though sincerity significance is found . This is your Hillary Clinton, and classical liberal and conservatives. People who through work and discourse can find the answers and understanding of the problems facing us today.

Post-Modernists believe that no media is inherently more valuable then one another, all media is “equal” so to speak, it seeks to reject the traditional norms to seek its own meaning. This is your Trump, and to a greater extent the Alt-Right. That despite his complete lack of background in politics, despite his lack of understanding of political discourse, Post-Modernists believe that with these glaring flaws, Trump is just as equal a candidate as Clinton.

So perhaps we can look at this election as a conflict between Modernism and Post-Modernism, one instance rejecting the stance of the other. Maybe it’s how we structure ourselves, we always seek  dichotomies. Black and white are always striking and easy to understand, and grey is a boring slog of different shades, nuance doesn’t hold the simple solutions, but perhaps you can’t have simple solutions to complex problems.