Jordan of the Internet v. Cathy of Television
My friend and fellow Three Kraters Symposium panelist Josh Arguien has a theory about why Jordan Peterson’s interview with Cathy Newman blew up the internet.
I was thinking about this question, which was raised last night on our weekly Youtube live stream, Three Kraters Symposium. I think this is an important question. There are hundreds of news interviews worldwide every day. Why did this interview catch so much attention?There is nothing particularly remarkable about it on the surface. It’s true that Dr. Jordan Peterson has a large following, and so does Cathy Newman. But the topic matter was vague, the points were difficult to grasp, and nobody involved became very upset. So why the significance?I have a theory about this....Dr. Jordan Peterson’s public persona is a creation of the Internet. He shares concepts that require study, critical analysis, discussion, and revisiting. This fits nicely into a 1.5-hour Youtube video format, and not at all in a five-minute TV segment. He is an academic and an intellectual, well-versed in his topics of study.Cathy Newman’s public persona is a creation of Television. She is aggressive, sharp, quick, confrontational, and probing. But ultimately, she's not a thinker. She promotes narratives, without the ability to defend or explain them. She is in the entertainment business. News commentary isn’t the point…it’s a gimmick.Dr. Jordan Peterson Vs. Cathy Newman was the first shot at Concord. This conflict between Television and Internet has been building for years. Mostly TV had been ignoring it. After all, Youtube is a place for cat videos and clips of workers hilariously falling off ladders. It was not a REAL source of information. Surely, the executives in those three-letter news agencies had nothing to worry about.
Until they did. They began worrying about it a great deal. They started fighting it, going after prolific hosts like Sargon of Akkad with scandalous news stories, condemning the space as a hot-bed for racism, fascism, and even terrorism. The only people who watch it, said they, are neck-bearded, basement-dwelling troglodytes! And then the executives patted each other on the back and congratulated themselves with a second lunch.But nobody was paying attention. They were busy watching Youtube for movie reviews, celebrity gossip, news commentary, historical narratives, and social justice critiques. You know…those things you normally watch on television.However, the Internet had not struck back directly. Oh, there had been a few scuffles, much like Royalists and Revolutionaries throwing punches in dark alleyways. But never a recorded battle. The Internet had been growing and taking market share (in terms of people's attention), but it hadn't demonstrated why, in and of itself, it is a better mode of entertainment and information.All that changed with Dr. Jordan Peterson's interview with Cathy Newman on Channel 4. Dr. Jordan Peterson trounced Cathy Newman, who sputtered outrageous mis-characterizations in the wake of his sweeping arguments. Cathy twisted every phrase and word, hoping to catch Jordan out. Spoiler Alert: She didn’t. But this was more than an academic and a TV personality having an intellectual debate.It was a demonstration of the superiority of the Internet community over the Television community.Internet allows people to research, compile, and dig into source material. It allows for two-way communication between presenter and audience. It encourages debate, reprisal, and community consensus. It defies expert authority, acknowledges logical argument, gives value to knowledge of history. It also contains a massive trolling community to probe for weaknesses.TV tells you what to think. Period. And please don’t send us letters because we don’t read them.Channel 4, by all accounts, was initially very pleased with the interview. No surprise! Their job isn't to inform. It is to entertain. And the 5-minute clip used from the 30-minute interview for broadcasting was both intellectually aborted and amusing. A few thrown chairs might have helped, but otherwise, it was a success.But they weren't fighting on their own ground. Something was different. Channel 4 had also put the entire interview (to their credit) online. By doing so, they opened themselves up to the Rules of the Internet.
Dr. Jordan Peterson and his fans are of the Internet. And the Internet swarmed to see what its creation had done. When they saw the disrespect and disdain TV had for its emissary, it called for its legion of trolls.And the trolls were hungry!The next day, Channel 4 was inundated with criticism, mockery, and beguiling memes. Cathy Newman was castigated for intellectual fraud. Insults bombarded Channel 4 News as a false den of skullduggery. The entire network was proclaimed to be a vast, scripted joke and totally incapable of any real exploration or inquiry.
The [Channel 4] senior staff were stunned! Why was everyone so outraged? Were they not entertained? Was the narrative not promoted? Did they not understand the context of the show? What was this demand for fair argument, logic, repartee, and finesse? Was Tyler Durden...er...Jordan Peterson...building an army?? Oh noes!!So, they called in a brigade of armed security guards, boarded up the windows, and theatrically prepared to repel a possible attack. Like simps, they cried victim and wondered aloud why everyone was picking on them. They demanded sympathy and relief from the mean words that were being targeted at their creation, Cathy Newman.After all, it was THEY who shaped public opinion! They were established! They were reputable! They worked in a big office building! They had multiple chins and knew how to tie a cravat like gentlemen. How dare these unwashed peasants thwart their betters!! Harrumph!!
And the trolls laughed at their cuckedness and continued meme-making for Lolz. And the Lord did grin, and the people did feast upon the lambs and sloths and carp and anchovies and orangutans and breakfast cereals and fruit bats…And Dr. Jordan Peterson was given the Keys of Barad-dûr, the crowns of seven kings, and the rods of the Five Wizards for his victory.
But the war has just begun. DJP VS. CN wasn’t a culmination. It was but the first strike in an impending war for the attention and consideration of the masses. Will Television, that 1920’s technology now infected with vipers and autocratic censors, continue to control the minds the People? Or will it be these young ruffians, saying naughty words and mocking the status quo, whose voices lift above the elite clamor?
TV isn't going down without a fight, and the talking heads will now turn their full fervor against Dr. Jordan Peterson, as they have with Milo Yiannopoulos , Stefan Molyneux, and Rebel Media.
Already, censorship is everywhere, being resisted only by the native disposition of the internet denizens. Facebook has long played the political game. Youtube has begun demonetizing videos it deems “controversial. Even CNN is spinning excuses for mass censorship. The plan to kill the voice of the Internet is not speculation. It is here and now.
Expect it to get worse. Television still shapes the opinions of millions. They have far more to gain than to lose by fighting. However, I don’t believe they will win.
For our full conversation about the interview, go here.For them, it is work. For us, it is fun!For there may come a day when we might forsake all vows of fellowship. But it is not this day! Today we fight! Rise up now, Free Men and Women of the Web!