I’m In The Second Act

by Shelt Garner

I know this story is stable enough for me to get into the second act fully because of how much I’m changing things and moving scenes around in the outline. Anyway, tomorrow is the first of the month and that’s as good as a time as any to throw myself into working on the second act.

I’ve got to do something, however, because time is really moving forward at a fast clip and if I don’t wrap up something, anything with this first novel then it’s going to be next year and I will be just about where I am now.

I really feel like I’m out of my comfort zone already. This project is turning out to be far more overwhelming than I could have ever imagined. There’s just so much to think about so I don’t embarrass myself.

But, that’s what I wanted.

There’s A Good Chance Madison Cawthorn Is Telling The Truth

by Shelt Garner

My gut tells me that North Carolina Representative Madison Cawthorn is probably telling the truth when it comes to “drug fueled orgies” within Republican ranks.

Given how shameless elected Republicans are, and how they seem to wallow in hypocrisy at every turn, it definitely seems like their “thing” to do coke and have orgies.

But because it’s just Cawthorn talking about it, this is probably going to be just another thing that Republicans get away with. It’s very frustrating, but that’s the modern political world we live in now.

Republicans destroy everything and get away with it, while Democrats sneeze wrong and it’s the end of the world. This is an example of how I can never fully agree with people like Joe Rogan. I can agree in general with him on specific issues like how the “woke agenda” makes people have some very dumb hot takes on The Slap, but I fucking hate the MAGA New Right with such a white hot passion that, lulz, so what.

This is also an example of how there are macro forces at work in American politics right now. We’re lurching towards the existential choice of autocracy or civil war in the general 2024 – 2025 timeframe and there just isn’t anything we can do about it. At best, we can punt the problem down the road, but I doubt that is going to happen.

We’re fucked — key bump optional.

Was I Too Hard On ‘Don’t Look Up?’

by Shelt Garner

The media reaction to The Slap, especially on YouTube, has me wondering if I was too hard on Don’t Look Up. I didn’t finish the movie because I found it very aggravating, but from the clips I’ve seen of the movie after the point that I seen are eerily similar to what happened in the days after The Slap.

There’s a huge “but” involved.

And that “but” is Don’t Look Up got so wrapped up in the over-the-top parody that it missed the point of the story. Or, put another way, there was definitely a modern day Network somewhere in Don’t Look Up, but the actual movie is so muddled that it’s grating on the nerves.

But some of the media commentary that the movie has is spot on. I guess it’s aggravating on what we missed out on. We deserved a new Network, but about global climate change, and we got Mars Attack update about politics.

Anyway. I have my own take on global climate change rolling around in my mind, but I’m so wrapped up working on this five novel project to get around to it. I wish I could do both, but I can’t.

Good Grief, I Agree With Joe Rogan About ‘The Slap’

by Shelt Garner

I actually agree with Joe Rogan’s hot take on The Slap, but I hate myself for doing so. All the problems that exist with Rogan and his podcast still exist, but I have to agree with his views on The Slap. (The context of what we believe is totally different, but I agree with the basic premise of his views on the issue.)

But that agreement highlights how fucked the United States is over the course of the next few years. An array of macro trends are all coming to a head between now and Certification Day 2025 and, as such, we’re careening towards an existential choice — autocracy or civil war.

For the time being, I think we pick autocracy.

I say this because for the average American the “autocracy” is currently such an abstract concept that they don’t really understand what it would mean to them on a personal basis. So, what’s most likely to happen is either Trump or A Republican will become president and gradually over the course of a few years American civil society will be snuffed out.

Then, when the time is right, there will be a Constitutional Convention and we’ll finally become identical to Russia.

I mention this again because Joe Rogan is the tip of the spear of this gradual transformation in the United States. He articulates for a lot white men the general unease about what’s coming out of the center-Left these days. Of course, he totally ignores the flaming pile of shit that is the MAGA New Right. He couches everything about the MAGA New Right in such a way that he serves as a gateway drug to MAGA.

Or, put another way, I agree with Rogan about The Slap, and it takes a lot – and I mean A LOT — of thinking to keep myself from buying into his broader bullshit message about MAGA. But I’m of the opinion that you need to expose yourself to views you don’t agree with to build up the mental antibodies over the long term.

Anyway, man are we fucked. The chief unknown at this point is if we have a civil war or if we just peacefully slip into autocracy. At the moment, I just don’t know which one we’ll pick.

Why Is Everything So Dumb: Of The Slap, Dave Chappelle & The ‘Fourth Turning’ Of 2025

by Shelt Garner

It definitely seems as though the United States is collapsing before our very eyes. I just don’t see how we make it past 2025 without some massive changes, be it a civil war or a final lurch into autocracy.

There are pings that point to this catastrophe all over the place. When you talk to your Traditionalist relatives and they embrace the idea that all Republicans have is the culture wars and, oh boy, do you have a problem on your hands.

One interesting thing is how Dave Chappelle of all people has a lot of respect within the MAGA New Right. They have no idea about who Chappelle is other than Joe Rogan loves him. That’s it. That and how Chappelle has been “cancelled” by the “woke mob” for his reluctance to follow the establish media narrative on the transgender issue.

I get where this is coming from, but it’s also unnerving. It’s unnerving because it seems as though there’s a chance that because of this same dynamic that The Slap is going to be adopted by the MAGA New Right as vessel for them to pour all of their hate and racism into.

They will be completely oblivious to the broader implications or complexities of what happened. It will simply become a shorthand for the grunt that is their political worldview.

I continue to look around the United States and see a lot of signs that we’re in Weimar America. The months between now and January 2023 when the Republicans gain control of Congress again may be looked back upon as the final twilight of the America we’ve known for centuries.

Beginning in January 2023, we either lurch toward autocracy, or things begin to move towards a civil war. Despite everything, Trump is still probably going to win in 2024 and then we sit around and wait for his handpicked successor to become America’s first autocrat.

If we do slip peacefully into autocracy, there is likely to be a huge American Diaspora as thousands and thousands of wealthy liberals of all stripes simply leave the country until the rules are changed by the autocrat so they can’t anymore.

Things will get worse and worse until politically the United States will be identical to Russia. Or, as I mentioned, we have a civil war and bomb oursleves into the Stone Age using WMD.

I wish I had a simple solution to this problem. Sadly, I don’t.

‘The Slap’ Was Really Fucked Up

by Shelt Garner

Now that we’ve all had a few days to process what happened, it seems as though pretty clear that Will Smith and Jade Pinkett Smith have a unique relationship. All of the hot takes influenced by racism and identity politics obscure how fucked up what happened was.

The reason why The Slap is so shocking is if you simply take what happened at face value without applying any particular agenda to it — Will Smith was way out of line.

But it’s difficult for us to come to that conclusion because of racism on one end of the spectrum and identity politics on the other. Or, put another way, as I’ve said before, because there is no “center” anymore, it seems as though the African American community wants to handle this as a family matter and, as such, they’re defending Smith even though we all saw what happened with our own two eyes.

And that’s a totally valid thing to do.

I don’t know. The broader implications of The Slap continue to be processed. It’s just sad that the same problems that led to the rise of MAGA are also muddling the waters to such an extent that it’s difficult for any broad consensus to be developed as to What It All Means.

We’ve Entered The Bonkers Stage Of Our New Post-Slap Era

by Shelt Garner

It was inevitable, given how awash America is with both racism and identity politics, that we would reach a point where all of the hot takes on The Slap were bonkers.

It’s been a few days and I’m still obsessed with what happened because of how shocking it was. As such, I keep looking at Tik-Tok and YouTube to see if there is some new angle that someone has squeezed out of the event.

The growing conventional wisdom is there is no conventional wisdom. The Slap is being processed by every little identity group in its own way. But, in general, the African American community will not brook any outside criticism of Will Smith — even if it comes from someone like Zoe Kravitz. I still don’t get why Black Twitter was filled with rage at her hot take. But, again, I don’t really think it’s my place to comment beyond that.

Anyway, it seems as though the other conventional wisdom is made up of older white and African American thought leaders who are joining forces to take Chris Rock’s side. This comes, I think, from a sense of shock that basic civility was broken in such a shocking way. Being an Old myself, the idea that basic public decorum would be violated in such a random, unexpected way is something that really bothers me.

There is a chance that as Olds — regardless of race — begin to properly process what happened that we might see some sort of accountability. This happens almost every time there is a major crisis like this. At first, people are in too much shock to take the consequences of the event seriously. Then, gradually, it dawns on people in Power, The Powers That Be, that Something Has To Be Done.

So, that seems to be where things stand at the moment. There is a shoe that hasn’t dropped, however — and that’s what Chris Rock has to say about things. He is supposed to have a standup set in Boston tonight and I think whatever he says there will open the next phase in this clusterfuck.

Do We Have To Worry About Kanye West At The Grammy’s Now Because Of The Slap?

by Shelt Garner

This is an example of me just not knowing. While I know Kanye West isn’t allowed to perform at the Grammy’s because of his erratic behavior of late, I don’t know if he’s even invited to the ceremonies in the first place.

I’m just a little nervous that even how Will Smith got away with The Slap at the Oscars that West might do something crazy at the Grammy’s because it’s simply in the air at the moment.

But I don’t think I have anything to worry about. I hope. I think I’m overthinking things. But Smith has definitely highlighted that if you’re a celebrity you can do pretty much anything you want during the ceremony and nothing is going to happen to you.

Which is, in itself, a little unnerving.

The Slap: The Center Has Not Held

by Shelt Garner

The key issue about The Slap right now is while it happened in the national “community square,” there’s simply no way to have any unified conventional wisdom about what it means.

The Slap.

Take Zoe Kravitz and Black Twitter.

It is only because The Slap happened in an event of the “center” that I even attempt to comprehend what is going on with Ms. Kravitz. She’s black and yet Black Twitter is not having it when it comes to her criticism of Will Smith’s behavior at The Oscars.

I honestly don’t understand why this is.

And it probably isn’t my place to have any opinion on it in the first place. I have no skin in that game, as they say. It will be interesting to see if Ms. Kravitz’ acting career suffers any long-term damage from Black Twitter’s rage against her the last few hours.

This points to a broader situation, which is Smith is probably going to get away with what he did for the same reason we can never have any form of gun control, no matter how many children die — by the time we get around to being “allowed” to do something, the momentum for action has dissipated.

Such is life in post-accountability America.

When It Comes To ‘The Slap,’ All I Want Is Some Accountability

by Shelt Garner

It seems as though The Academy is taking the, “let’s slow walk any attempt at accountability and hope people forget” approach to holding Will Smith accountable for The Slap. At the moment, I think there’s a fair chance they may get away with it. Even though The Slap has entered the general zeitgeist, it’s fading down to a simmer really fast.

And, what’s more, America is so divided that the usual suspects of racism and identity politics are getting involved, making it even more difficult to come to some consensus as to what should be done.

There is a possibility that by the time The Academy reaches a point where it has to make a decision, whatever they decide will barely be a blip in the public’s consciousness.

What I want is Will Smith to stop being so damn cocky and to show some public remorse. He’s done absolutely nothing to indicate he honestly feels regret for his behavior and, as such, it seems as though our current post-accountability era strikes again.

Trump and his cronies aren’t the only people above the law, it appears.

It’s too late for the thing that should have happened — Smith not be able to enjoy his big night for winning the Oscar — to happen. So, in a sense, there’s a real chance he’ll escape any accountability at all.

He won’t have a Red Table talk with his wife about what happened. And he won’t have any type of cathartic moment with Oprah. The whole thing will fade from the public’s mind and simply be something that comics can reference for a easy joke because it’s something everyone knows enough about to get.

In the end, it seems Chris Rock will be the one to get the last laugh. For the time being, his composure after The Slap has made him something of a martyr for the comic comedy. And may get a Netflix special out of, too. The SNL family is going to have his back and there’s a reasonable chance that it will be SNL that strikes back this weekend. But, as I’ve said before, given how The Tonight Show pulled its punches on happened, even that might be something of a let down.