Wednesday, February 25, 2015

What Keith Olbermann Taught Me About Being Likable

So, Keith Olbermann is in trouble again.

This was the only picture I could find of him that was free to use
I got what I paid for. 

He went off on a rant about Penn State's victories being reinstated and ended up insulting students who raised money to fight cancer.

Did he get trapped into it? Kind of.

Was there a more diplomatic solution that he overlooked? Absolutely.

It's easy to be on the outside looking in and throw stones, but I'm not going to do that.

I don't think he should get suspended, and I don't think he should get fired.

But I sure as hell am going to remember this when he calls for someone's resignation. Guarantee it.

It's easy to want Olbermann to get fired. He's not likable.

And it's funny. Because, unlikability on a level like this is not something that can be conjured in a work of fiction. We all deal with toads and tools (and a few toadstools) in all walks of life, but it's never easy to create a tool of a character in fiction.

What is the difference between Robert Downey Jr. and Macklemore?

What makes you feel a certain way about a person?

A part of it can come from your allegiances. I like the Lakers. Never understood why some people don't like Kobe. He's innocent. He doesn't need a wheelchair to take him off the court when he hurts an elbow.

Lebron. I've come to the terms that he's a human being. And it's a silly game.

Bill O'Reilly. Michael Moore. Each side has theirs.

So, it has to be something more than that.

Likability comes from knowledge, more importantly, knowledge of everyone's perspective and knowing the world does not revolve around you 

You know how certain things are racist, but other things are tolerated?

I think it comes to this...

When someone feels like they aren't treated like human beings, like a joke is made at their expense, as oppose to an observation of the human condition, they find it racist.

The preceding sentence was very lawyery. I did that on purpose. There's going to be someone yammering about it.

Giuliana is not friends with Zendaya. That's why there's problems.

Insulting someone you don't know is different.

But at the same time, the entire point of Fashion Police is designed to tear people down. Fashion Police Brutality. Even the Fashion Police are racist. That was a joke. I hope it was received as such. Fine, give me a day to pen the apology...

There's a difference between joking about an experience with your friends, and that asshole nine year old yelling racial slurs on Xbox Live.

You see it in a lot of shows where diverse people are depicted. You can feel like there was this obligation to quota. No character has a voice, because you don't know where that character comes from. Lena Dunham writing a black character, for example.

And interesting characters can't exist because of it. Conflict is interesting. But, conflict can be interpreted as prejudice.

If Luke Skywalker is black, you'll say he couldn't stop the Death Star without white Han Solo saving him.

If Han Solo is black, you'll say that he is some type of oppressive archetype because he's helping a white person succeed.

Quota destroys innovation, whether that's financial, political, or otherwise.

Does that mean you shouldn't talk to those different than you? No, it doesn't.

I personally don't think most people are racists. I think there is some flaw in human psychology that we've yet to analyze. We never acknowledge good things. This is where negativity comes from.

I mean, working in customer service can make you hate people. But that's only because you're forgetting the good people you work with everyday. You take them for granted, because you don't worry about them. You don't toss and turn thinking about them. Unless you're a weirdo like me, of course.

But let's be honest. The reason why Olbermann has backfired is because...

He comes off as insincere 

People used to ask Mister Rogers why he remained to be the same person offscreen as onscreen.

Mister Rogers replied "Kids can spot a phony from a mile away". He always accepted people for who they were.

Back in the day, a group of thieves stole Mr. Rogers car. They returned it shortly later with the note "Sorry we stole your car, we didn't know it was yours".

If that doesn't warm your heart, don't talk to me.

You never want to make money being a personality. That is, something that you need to turn on and off. Something you're not consistent with.

If you're not an artist, and you are burdened to create content everyday, all that is left is creating drama. All that's left is pissing people off.

You can't seal yourself off and work on your novel or your album. You can't go into self-exile and train for your next match.

It's not good to be a personality.

Because we all have bad days. And each fanbase needs an excuse.

Kate Gosselin has no excuses. There's no reason to be a fan of Kate Gosselin.

All the reasons are gone. Especially if you're not a nice person to work with.

John Travolta is getting a lot of flack right now. But if you love Welcome Back, Kotter, Saturday Night Fever, and Pulp Fiction, there's nothing his new silliness can do to take that away. Although, some will argue that he tries.

Making something of worth can erase a lot of negatives. At least excuses. A lot of despicable people have made amazing things.

It's this weird emotion I feel when Kanye says he has the right to work with Disney Imagineers. It's almost like when Iggy Azalea does anything. Can you imagine Gucci Mane throwing a fit over Papa John's giving out his number? I don't even think Iggy Pop would care.

You know that old Outer Limits episode where scientists create fake aliens in order to create a fake alien invasion so the world can unite?

I feel like Iggy Azalea is an alien created to bring people of all races together. I feel like T.I. might secretly be a martyr. Everyday he says to himself "One day, it will all be worth it". It makes more sense than what we're dealing with right now.

We like Walter White, because we want to pretend that's who we will become when we have to deal with something as bad as cancer.

Everyday, we wake up, and deal with obstacles. We like to look up to those who solve those problems.

And we resent those who only make it worse on themselves.

Those teenagers who keep tripping in the slasher movies. We actually root for Jason Voorhees. He has plans, and he knows where he's going.

I root for everyone in this picture

It's the fundamental root of drama and storytelling.

We mess up. We accept characters that mess up. But they have to redeem themselves. Redemption means they've learned something. And we like them better for that.

Keith Olbermann has been to the doghouse before. And he's going back. He hasn't learned. This bothers people.

He's not Steve McQueen going back in the cooler.

He's every other guy apologizing, maybe make a comment about anger management, rehab and the like.

And it's going to continue...

So till the next time, we'll see you.


  1. I think he's sincere. Some things he sincerely doesn't like -- for example, Penn State, soccer, and NASCAR -- and he gets sincerely irritated with people flooding his timeline trying to PROVE to him that he needs to like those things. He tries to reason with them; they don't accept his reasons. He tries to joke with them; they are humorless. Then he tries to distance them by calling them morons -- which for some unfathomable reason only makes them more desperate to change his mind about PSU, NASCAR & soccer! What is it with people on social media?-- can't they let you have your own likes and dislikes any more? Why do they get abusive when other people don't like what they like? So I'm gonna say I think Twitter is a stupid example from which to decide if someone's likeable. With all the trolls and fanatics coming at you 24/7, how can a person have strong opinions and still be likeable on Twitter, answer me that. Okay, I've spoken my mind, I'll shut up now.

  2. Honestly, I don't like Penn State and NASCAR either.

    I'll have to find the link, but someone talked about the three percent rule, and how three percent of the population will hate anything. This dislike has nothing to do with the content in question, but rather these people being bitter/contrarian. They were going to go after Olbermann regardless.

    It's okay to have strong opinions. But someone like Olbermann who has been in trouble burning bridges in the past should know that the occasional Twitter ranter is out to cause nothing but trouble.

    When you present yourself as a media personality and you have a segment titled "The Worst Person in The World" and you're constantly talking about who should be fired for whatever controversy, that creates resentment and enemies. Of course people on Twitter will kick him down.

    This is going to be something he's going to have to deal with.

  3. Redd, it was your comments about likeability that I was addressing. For many viewers there are few people on TV more likeable than Olbermann, esp. in the way he expresses his admiration for individuals who epitomize the best in sports and in his tributes to newspeople who have inspired and mentored him over his long career. Viewers live for those moments. He makes jokes at his own expense, many playing into the curmudgeonly persona you reference. It's that persona which is on display in "Worst Persons," which isn't meant to be taken literally; it's a way of sounding off about stupid foibles and it's surprising how many people showcased in that segment take it in the spirit in which it's intended and are delighted to have been featured on TV!

    I've noticed that Olbermann has two voices; the serious journalist, and the aforementioned persona he's cultivated for the purpose of nailing stupidity and absurdity. The latter is very handy in a whole lot of circumstances and people applaud when 99% of the time he pulls it off. Is it a tightrope walk over a moatfull of alligators? Yeah; but I don't have the impression he craves safe positions, thinks it will always succeed or that he won't have to pay a price for it occasionally. In other words, he doesn't consider himself exempt. It's not the primary reason I watch him, but it is entertaining, and employers more than anybody think it's fabulous. ;-)

    1. Hi again,

      The likability factor I was addressing in this post came from the fact that Mr. Olbermann has had his past share of controversies. I know certain individuals (comedian Jim Norton comes to mind) have questioned Mr. Olbermann’s sincerity in the past.

      We live in a time where certain people can get away with tweeting certain things if we “like” them enough. I was trying to figure out what causes controversies on Twitter and what does not.

      If you like his style of journalism, that is your opinion, and you have the right to like it, as we live in a wonderful golden age of many options. But, as this controversy proves, there are people who do not like his style of journalism. I wanted to deconstruct how he got into trouble, and what he can do now so he does not get into trouble in the future.

      I know that Mr. Olbermann has both created trouble and fallen into trouble from his unique personality. I feel like this is something he enjoys. I have friends who want to be in shape, but they love their chocolate cookies. They hate having to run that extra mile to keep their figure. I explain that if these two things are something they value, this is a new part of their life they’re going to have to accept.

      And I feel like Mr. Olbermann will have to do the same. Perhaps he can even switch it up, and have six month periods where he feeds the homeless, followed by six months of cursing out Bill O’Reilly.

  4. I know certain individuals (comedian Jim Norton comes to mind) have questioned Mr. Olbermann’s sincerity . . .

    Jim Norton... wait-- the Opie show guy? This is your go-to authority for intel relating to the "sincerity" of other entertainers? Friend, I've heard his work; there's no deep reservoir of wisdom there.

    I have to say I'm disappointed. Your blog is all hearsay. And not just hearsay, but negative hearsay from detractors. That doesn't add up to a penetrating investigation of what causes Twitter controversies, that's an INVITATION to a Twitter controversy.

    Shouldn't it have occurred to you that advertising your Norton-influenced blog on Olbermann's timeline might make you an instigator of the very process you say you're trying to analyze?

    1. What exactly would I be instigating? I was deconstructing scandals and media circuses among media personalities and how that differs with the scandal of an artist.

      Olbermann is in trouble. I was explaining why that is.

      You're saying you don't like Jim Norton. Okay...

      What happened to having a different opinion?

      How is my blog hearsay?

  5. The blog is hearsay because it's not based on your own observations of Olbermann -- just recycled comments from people who don't like him. So how do you know how VALID those remarks are? Mightn't they fall into the "3% Rule" category you spoke of, above -- you know, remarks from people who don't like anything?

    Case in point: Opie, Norton, et al, are constantly in trouble, they get sued every other day for abusing people; in fact you could say getting in trouble is kind of what they do for a living. You suggested Olbermann should be astute enough to consider the 3% Rule when deciding whether or not to respond to some of the nastier tweets he receives. If you believe the Rule, then why would you regard every negative comment about him as gospel -- esp. remarks from folks like Norton, whose livelihood is all about offending people, you follow me?

    Moreover, if you're trying to do an objective analysis of what causes Twitter controversies, your conclusions are more credible if you're not, you know, simultaneously attempting to CREATE a Twitter controversy by promoting your blog on the timeline of the blog's subject... unless your research technique is to stir up a controversy and then show how you did it. ;-)

  6. Honestly, I think you’re looking into this deeper than intended.

    He was suspended. I don’t think he should have gotten suspended. But a lot of people do.

    Olbermann has asked for people to be fired in the past. I’m saying that someone shouldn’t throw stones since the shoe has a tendency to be on the other foot.

    If you want me to find more “esteemed” critics, I will do so. I'm busy, so it could take time, but I'll do so.

    I really doubt a Twitter controversy is going to come from little old me.

  7. Honestly, I think you’re looking into this deeper than intended.

    Same thing Olbermann is probably thinking.

    Can you understand why there's nothing to be gained at this point from your citing more people who agree with you, Redd? It doesn't add anything to the culture's store of knowledge to keep passing preconceptions down the line. You'd still be depending on secondary sources -- who, bear in mind, may themselves be depending on secondary sources. That's how memes and narratives are born.

    For example: Did you know that Al Gore claimed he invented the Internet and Sarah Palin said she could see Russia from her house? It was all over the Internet, so, must be true!

    If you want to stand out as a blogger you need to say something no one else has ever said, based on your own impressions, not a lot of other people's.

  8. You know what, you're right.

    I was caught up in the deadline, and jealous of Buzzfeed's numbers. I let some things slide.

    A blogger recommended I talk about current events. I picked something at 10pm and went with it.

    I make mistakes, but I'll try to be careful.

  9. Good man, Redd! I like your writing style. Go forth and spread beauty and light! :-)