The Middle-Aged Genius’s Guide to Almost Everything 26 – The Changing Landscape for Men (2)

In-Sight Publishing

The Middle-Aged Genius’s Guide to Almost Everything 26 – The Changing Landscape for Men (2)

November 22, 2018

[Beginning of recorded material]

Rick Rosner: In the current atmosphere, to use an example that is not pertaining to gender relations but from 20 years ago, there came a point at which telling ethnic jokes were not going to help you.

50 years ago, men, and even some women, could tell the last ethnic jokes were Pollock jokes. Most people younger than 30 do not even know what this is referencing. Pollocks, people from Poland – at least in terms of these jokes, were thought of as being really dumb.

I am not sure if that is reflective of people from Poland. Maybe, it did from some people. But most people don’t know many people from Poland. Most people told Pollock jokes. This was the or among the last waves of ethnic jokes.

30 years before that, these jokes would have been told about black people. As people got more enlightened, the narrowing got to Pollocks. Those went away. 20 years after that, you have a wave of jokes with dumb blond jokes.

The lesson of this is that the telling of any of these jokes being okay in a casual social framework is bad. Say you’re a salesman in 1948, it wouldn’t hurt to have some jokes to tell but that would not be PC now.

Farmer’s daughter and traveling salesman jokes were popular. A traveling salesman is going across the country. He needs a place to stay. He asks a farmer if he can sleep in the barn. The barn farmer always has the sexy daughter.

Then there are jokes based on this framework; these were fantastically popular 100 years ago. You would not tell these jokes today. The deal is, where these jokes may have functioned as a social lubricant once, the jokes you’d tell your buddies at the Elks Club.

You can’t do that anymore. There are jokes that you can tell. These jokes are based on a certain amount enlightenment about the current situation.

Jacobsen: There are dark ages within those enlightenments. Looking through those one-way mirrors of Canada, where we can see you and you can’t see us…

Rosner: …[Laughing] I like that…

Jacobsen: …It is a Margaret Atwood joke. I can’t take credit for it…

Rosner: …Oh! Follow her too, she is really funny.

Jacobsen: All of these people that you have been mentioning probably have been influenced by her. One of her bases for her books is taking aspects of obvious sexism from men to women or society to women as puzzle pieces in a larger puzzle, and those become books. The Handmaid’s Tale is one example.

Rosner: I follow a lot of science fiction people. You can consider Atwood science fiction to some extent. William Gibson, Charles Stross, Chuck Wendig, Cameron Hurley, all these people are, even though they are writing about largely the future, very interested in the present.

The future is liberal. I had the topic of my argument, weekly argument, with Lance, to the extent that I could get my topic out before he yelled at me, was “What if your conservative values are not going to make it into the future?”

He said, “In the future, women will be only married to men and men will only be married to women.” It’s like, “No” [Laughing].

Jacobsen: The liberals now in 30 years will be the conservatives in the future. In this sense, what has been whittled down as needed over the long term of societies becomes the conservative of societies, but then there is a wide range of experimentation that would be more liberal-oriented values in the present, they are trying to test things out, e.g., trans rights, and so on.

That may explain why of the big five traits that liberals tend to be more open on trait openness and conservatives aren’t. But later on, as those values have gone through the trial-and-error phases, they become more established and a whole new generation comes up and takes them as default.

Even though, they were some aspects of liberal values 30 years prior. But I want to go back to the point looking forward. The liberal or left side of America, they do a good job of pointing out bigotry and prejudice and offensive commentary or jokes against ethnic minorities and women.

What I think the conservative or the right does is pointing out the ageism against the old and against whites, they’ll say, “White male tears,” or, “Old white male tears,” or, “We have to wait for that whole generation of white people who are older to die off.” 

I have heard Oprah say this. When the conservatives point this out as also ageist and also sexist, I think this is right too. There are pockets of enlightenment on either side, but I also think there are areas of dark ages in either as well.

Rosner: There has always been a lot of disingenuousness in politics. More of it comes from Republicans than from Democrats.

Jacobsen: Yes.

Rosner: If you read what people are saying, and Twitter chops it into nice little chunks, you do not have to read someone’s nice little op-ed in the newspaper. You get lessons in how not to be a dick in discourse.

That doesn’t mean that you can’t tell jokes. Here is a joke, and it’s not great: “I am with Kavanaugh [He is holding me prisoner in this bedroom].”

Jacobsen: [Laughing].

Rosner: You can still make dark-ish jokes. I tweeted that one. Social media can teach you how to be a person in the world.

Jacobsen: It goes back to Lenny Bruce. The proper context of jokes in terms of no holds barred are people with no power making fun of people with power. That is a legitimate use of comedy in its root form.

Other manifestations of this come up. I think a lot of the blindness. That a lot of the more left side of America has about older and whiter people, like Dear White People

Another part of this comes from people who are older or whiter/Caucasian/Euro-American tend to have more power.

Rosner: Also, people who watch Fox News, who tend to be older and whiter. It likes to give them context for their anger. Everyone has frustrations in their lives. Often, frustrations are demographic.

If you are an older white person, you are likely to have some economic anxiety, some job-related anxiety, some retirement-related anxiety, and Fox News – if you become a regular viewer of that – will tell you whose fault it is, and then present a consistent picture of the world. It is liberals’ fault.

It becomes very persuasive. It becomes fuelled by your anxiety and frustration. They provide a consistent and encompassing set of expectations, which lets other things off the hook.

I don’t watch Fox that much. But there is probably only occasionally someone mentioning AI and technology is causing a lot of this stuff rather than NAFTA or China.

Jacobsen: Those are important are less important and falling behind in importance. AI is decentralized in its development. It is such an incredible amount of power that could be had from even dumb AI even now. 

Even our little assistants, things like Grammarly. It can help some writers lower the cognitive load. 

Rosner: What would happen if Fox had a 20-minute section on “Hey, old people, here’s what happens or here’s how to simply negotiate the world”? A 15-minute segment, not Hannity [Laughing], because he would never do that.

Even telling old people about stuff, I only recently learned how cheap it is to go to eBay for stuff. This is obvious stuff. You can go on eBay and buy stuff for 20% of what you pay for it if you bought it otherwise – tell old people that.

One of these little things that everyone under 30 knows but that most old people do not know. Rather than fuelling resentment and frustration, there are little ways to embrace technology to get things for cheaper and reduce your resentment and frustration.

My mother in law saves me issues of the AARP magazine. That’s the magazine for retired people. It’s for old people. People 50 and older, I won’t read it, because I don’t like to think of myself as an old person.

It is saying, “Hey old people, here’s the world and what to do about this and this and this and this.” Instead of fuelling resentment, here is the way of the world.

[End of recorded material]


Rick Rosner

American Television Writer


Rick Rosner

Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Editor-in-Chief, In-Sight Publishing


In-Sight Publishing


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