On “despair porn”

Published online 6 July 2011.

This is a diary about “despair porn,” as popularized in this diary.  The diary concludes:

Don’t deny yourself the strength of mind, the strength of motivation necessary to change the world.  Don’t get off on the Despair porn, and waste your brainpower thinking of reasons why what you want can never come to pass.

So why should we waste our brainpower trying to think of solutions to global warming, or ways of getting the government to do something positive about the economy?  The solution is simple — we should stop getting off on despair porn, and limit our desires to things we can actually achieve, like Obama’s re-election or something like that.  However, the presence of despair porn looms like a dark shadow over DailyKos.com and America at large — this is a call to resist the allure of despair porn and take refuge in the good life.

The first time I saw this term “despair porn” in the comments section of a diary here at DailyKos.com was here.  This is a comment in response to one of bobswern’s diaries.  Bobswern reads the economics pages, and Yves Smith’s Naked Capitalism blog.  His blogs tend to have insidious statements like this:

There will be many federal budget cap and deficit “knock-down-drag-outs” over the next year-and-a-half. If nothing else, the GOP will see to that.As economist Brad DeLong just noted, there’s a one-in-three chance that unemployment may still be at 9%, or greater, 16 months from now.

The cover story of this weekend’s Barron’s Magazine tells us there’s a high possibility (their take on this story is, actually, more definitive than “high possibility”) that oil will be $150 per barrel by next Spring, with spikes as high as $170 also more than likely.

And, I’m not even bringing up record-breaking income inequality, nor am I mentioning long-term joblessness and a housing/mortgage meltdown currently in the throes of a double-dip recession––both of which are now exceeding records previously set during the Great Depression.

That’s how bobswern piles it on.  Betty Pinson’s response is also rather instructive.  Pinson quotes a number of polls, which prominently contain two striking statistics:

1) A majority of the public thinks “economy/ jobs” is the issue most in need of improvement

2) America is generally headed in the wrong direction.

“Do you feel things in this country are generally going in the right direction or do you feel things have pretty seriously gotten off on the wrong track?”.

Right direction     Wrong track     Unsure
%     %     %

6/24-28/11
28     63     9

So how are we to look at that?  The results are pretty consistent: the future is negatively cathected for a rather unchanging majority of the public.  Sure, there was a bounce for “right direction” at the beginning of the Obama administration, but it faded.  The obvious conclusion is that America is a nation of despair porn junkies.

But it gets worse.  Of recent memory on the Kos rec list you have badabing’s most recent diary, pooping on all of those who are trying to craft a positive outlook for the future.  Badabing comes out with despair porn along these lines:

That is what is called, the new propaganda machine going on by both our Democrats and the insane right wing:  The Theory of Positive Thinking, or the Tinkerbell Theory, or Green Shoots, or the Tooth Fairy Propaganda.  It’s all the same, take your choice.

It should be obvious here that not only are the pornographers of despair trying to enjoy their sin in front of everyone, they’re dissing our most prominent optimists.

And then there’s the despair porn of global warming.  It’s bad enough when they put out their economics stuff — especially when they’re exposing it to an audience whose lives are devoted to an economy of 793 billionaires and 10 million millionaires while marginalizing a bottom half of humanity that earns less than $2.50/day.  The despair pornographers are going after planet Earth now.  In the public scene you have despair porn kings such as James Hansen, who tells us we’re over the limit on carbon dioxide.  C’mon!  How can we be over the limit?  It feels just fine outdoors.

Here at Kos one of the primary purveyors of global warming despair porn is FishOutofWater, who is famous for despair porn like this, and this and this.  FishOutofWater will at times put out despair-porn obscenities such as this:

No one’s doing a damned thing to solve real problems from the collapsing recovery to the collapsing climate.  They are listening to fake news, listening to lying corporate plants, and staring at pictures of a bulge in a guy’s shorts.

As long as we are on the topic of despair porn, it behooves us to examine the words of the Despair Porn King of Daily Kos Himself, One Pissed Off Liberal.  A perusal of OPOL’s diaries will unearth gems such as this one, and this one.  I mean, you’d like to say, “cheer up, OPOL,” but then you realize he’s doing it intentionally.  Why else would he say things like this?

The truth is that Obama takes his orders from the same people who gave Bush his – the shadow bosses of the MIC/Wall Street cabal.  How is that supposed to work out for us?  It isn’t.  It’s supposed to seem like it may…if we clap loud enough, if we GOTV hard enough, if we dedicate our entire lives to our political causes by giving rich people and their proxies more and more of our hard-earned money.  But no matter how hard we clap, no matter how dedicated we are or how how much of our precious money we give to our filthy-rich oppressors, we’re going to get screwed for our troubles because that’s the order of things in this country.

I suppose it used to be worse — when George Carlin was alive he used to give out despair porn comedy routines in front of vast audiences:

So what are the main characteristics of despair porn?  First off, despair porn piles on the bad news.  Secondly, despair porn has an obscene attachment to fact — we might also call it fact porn.  Lastly, despair porn just can’t appreciate the glorious lives led by the rich and famous, just as its purveyors can’t enjoy nice weather.  Ultimately, despair porn is an insidious threat to our collective consumer buzz, and must be stopped at all costs.

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s