Lectureporn: The Vulgar Art of Liberal Narcissism


Emmet Penney in Paste Magazine:

In 1996, the recently deceased elephantine orb of Elmer’s Glue, friend of Rachel Maddow, and former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes took over the network. He cultivated an incredible propaganda machine dedicated to scaremongering senior citizens into thinking gender neutral bathrooms are the first step towards sharia law. Ailes’ monstrosity has been disastrous for modern life. It is hard to name anyone else so successful in polarizing the country, especially given that he started off at a time notable for its political blandness. His network also created a backlash in the liberal media. In response, the liberal media catered to the dumbest, pettiest, most self-congratulatory parts of their viewership. They created a culture of smug narcissists, and narcissists fiend on two compulsions: short term ego boosts, and shitting on other people. More clinically, ingratiation and aggression. That’s called narcissistic supply. And it’s not just a habit. It is a need.

To get their fix liberals tuned into The Daily Show, MSNBC, or the Aristotelian quaalude that is Aaron Sorkin’s The Newsroom. Each monologue, each snide quip about NASCARnation was meant to affirm the viewers’ sense that they felt the right feelings, saw the world the right way, and, most importantly, weren’t hateful slobs who refused to floss their only tooth while singin’ the songs of that old time religion. Never mind that most liberal policies are now built around marshalling state violence to immiserate and discipline minorities and working class whites, or marshalling state violence to needlessly carpet-bomb the Middle East or go Zero Dark Thirty on some children (remember: consensus!). This largely took the aesthetic form of lectureporn. It is the apex of narcissistic supply delivery.

So what is lectureporn? It is the media spectacle of a lecture whose audience is the opponent of the lecture’s intended target. Jon Stewart, Trevor Noah, Samantha Bee, Keith Olberman, Rachel Maddow (again, friend of Roger Ailes), Aaron Sorkin, and a whole host of others have built their careers on this form. Lectureporn pulls off an amazing trick: it simultaneously delivers both elements of narcissistic supply. You sit and watch someone ingratiate themselves to you while they eviscerate someone you don’t like who is, in turn, unlikely to watch said lecture.

More here.