In this week's edition of The Daily Banter Mail Bag, Bob, Ben and Chez discuss creative freedom and social media, Bill Weir's Fox News tweet and our biggest influences.
1. Sarah Palin loosed herself from the bonds of the "lamestream media" by starting her own internet channel and Anthony Cumia is launching a daily podcast instead of doing a radio show for SiriusXM. We were always told that social media was going to change everything and let people do things their own way without interference from bosses. Is this what everybody meant... that terrible people would be able to bring their terrible voices right to their terrible fans?
Ben: Pretty much. It's a double edged sword - we wouldn't be anywhere near where we are without social media, but then we have to put up with the proliferation of right wing loudmouths who have niche audiences they can tap for subscriptions/selling gold etc.
Chez: In a word, yes. But remember that if it weren't for news coverage of everything some of these people did, you wouldn't know any better and could live your life in peace. The thing about niche media is that it's niche. It allows people to rope themselves off and potentially lose any cultural relevancy, but that can only happen if we leave them to their own devices and don't go peeking our heads in to see what they're doing within their little worlds.
Bob: It's not just social media, it's been like this for going on 20 years, really, long before Twitter or Facebook existed. I left the corporate world and became a freelance artist/writer/producer 15 years ago. The internet as a whole is responsible for this kind of freedom. For Anthony Cumia, it's a logical move (my opinion of Cumia aside). For Sarah Palin, it's a big, easy, brainless step down considering where she was in 2008. As many positive voices who've emerged because of this freedom, there will be an equal number of bastards emerging, too. It's the price we pay. But I think it's ultimately a net positive.
2. I totally agree with what Bill Weir tweeted yesterday to Fox News. I cheered when I read it. But it still bothers me that someone who is a national news anchor stooped to that level. Do you really think that tweet is something to celebrate?
Chez: I really loved the tweet too, but I agree with you that maybe Weir wasn't the right person to send it (despite the praise I jokingly heaped on him). I don't know, though -- there's another part of me that says that demanding that our news anchors be stiffs is ancient history. Weir isn't Walter Cronkite. He's an affable newsreader and a former sportscaster here in L.A. The bar isn't quite so high for him as it would be for somebody commanding old school respect. Eh, I guess I'm on the fence.
Bob: I don't care that he stooped to that level. The more people who speak out like this, the better off we'll be.
Ben: I was all for Weir's tweet. It's great someone in the mainstream media has the balls to do something like that. Shows there are actual humans working in it rather than endless clones of Wolf Blitzer and generic blondes brought into pump ratings. And Fox News are willfully ignorant fucksticks.
3. I really enjoyed last week's Inside the Actor's Studio questions so I want to add one more. Who do you consider the best and worst influences in your life? Can be past or present.
Bob: Apart from the obvious answers (my parents and brothers), the best influences in my life among people I've known are too many to list, but the first who come to mind are: Prof. Patrick Duddy, Kutztown University; Mike Elston (Buzz Burbank) and Don Geronimo, from the old Don & Mike Show and currently the flagship hosts on the RELM Network. As for worst influences, I'd rather not name names, but certain people in my life have duped me into believing they were trustworthy and well-intentioned, so I allowed myself to fall in with them. I was horrendously wrong.
Chez: Wow, that's a tough one. The obvious choice for best influences are my parents, but I've kind of kept a silent record throughout the years of the people who planted seeds that eventually grew my personality. There were a couple of cynical, older kid smart-asses who I thought were so damn funny when I was a child that it completely defined my sense of humor. (Hawkeye Pierce and Bugs Bunny did the same thing.) And a guy named Robert Rivero first turned me on to Zeppelin and rock-n-roll in general in the fifth grade, so that was revelatory. Bad influences? Myself. I'm my own worst enemy. Also, heroin.
Ben: Best influence? That's easy - my dad. Not discounting my mum of course, but as a young man it's important to have a positive male role model and I had a great one. As for the negative, I would say my former high school in England. It was a horrible, oppressive place where they stifled creativity, discouraged independent thinking and instilled the notion that we were better than other people because our parents had money. That place was Dulwich College if anyone cares to look it up.