Way back in the olden thymes, there was a pop act called Milli Vanilli. They were sold as an R&B duo from Munich, but both members were black. That added to their appeal, even in the pre-woke 1980’s. Their debut album was wildly successful in Europe and the US, selling millions of copies. They won a Grammy and had a world tour. The whole thing fell apart when they foolishly revealed that neither of them sang the songs on their album and their shows were lip-synced. They were disgraced and that was the end of the act.
There is a whiff of that with the fallout from the Ben Shapiro interview on the BBC that has been making the rounds. He agreed to be questioned by Andrew Neil, without bothering to learn anything about the format of the show. The setup is the host grills the guest, giving them a chance to rise to the occasion and show their stuff. Alternatively, as in the case of Ben Shapiro, it is a chance for the guest to reveal themselves to be a lightweight incapable of playing with the big boys. It was not a good day for Ben Shapiro Inc.
Of course, this exchange confirmed what many people have observed about Shapiro for a long time. That is, his reputation as a great debater was built on beating up emotionally unstable coeds. At one point in that interview, Andrew Neil seems to allude to that before Shapiro starts yapping like a whiny dog and cuts him off. YouTube is full of videos titled “Ben Shapiro destroys…” and the victim is a teenager or a girl. When confronted by an adult male with some skills at debating the issues, Shapiro became the sobbing coed.
What was revealed in that exchange is that Shapiro is a hothouse flower, created by a marketing machine, in the same way pop acts are created. Some talented marketers decided he had the right look and presentation, so he was hired to be the front man of what amounts to a political marketing machine. Shapiro is not exactly gormless, but his status has been inflated by a public relations effort, as well as big money backers, elevating him well beyond his talents. That was revealed in that interview.
Another analogy is the boxer who has built a record beating up bums. The first time he faces someone who can fight back, he does not know what to do. That was largely the case with Mike Tyson back in the day. People who knew boxing saw the flaws in his game, but Tyson mowed through aging stars and over-hyped bums, so the fans and media never noticed those flaws. Then he met a guy who did notice those flaws and trained to exploit them. Tyson was knocked out and never the same afterward.
That’s what you saw in that BBC video. Andrew Neil is a professional, who has built a career pressing his guests. He’s heard every trick by this point, so Shapiro’s efforts to derail him were quickly turned against him. Like that fighter who suddenly realizes the other guy is not going to just fall down. Shapiro started to panic and things got progressively worse for him until he just quit on his stool. The only thing missing was his handler rushing in to throw in the towel and protect his fighter.
In fairness, Shapiro is not unique in Conservative Inc. or even the mass media. All of them are hot house flowers, play acting as intellectuals. Most are smart enough to know it, so they never get in the ring with anyone who can fight back. If they do agree to talk with someone that is actually smart and capable, they make sure the game is rigged. They either scream over the guest or make sure the guest is willing to play along and make the host look good. That’s the world Shapiro is built for, not actual debate.
Getting back to the Milli Vanilli analogy, the thing that did it for the duo is they were an all or nothing proposition. Their back story is what sold them, as much as the catchy tunes created for them. In other words, it was the origin myth, not their music. For Ben Shapiro, what sold him to conservative readers was the legend of him being the super-debater, destroying liberals and bathing in their tears. His catch phrase, “facts don’t care about your feelings” now seems like an ironic epitaph to his career.
That said, there’s a lot of money invested in Shapiro. The sorry state of conservatism, as a firewall between the people in charge from the growing ranks of the disaffected, leaves them no choice but to re-inflate their hero. There are a lot of smart people scripting Ben Shapiro and the rest of Conservative Inc will be told to rally to his defense. There are a lot of suckers willing to excuse the whole affair and remain defenders and supporters of Ben Shapiro Inc. These rackets always find a way to bugger on until the bitter end.
Still, it is a bit of a green shoot. It is a reminder that these people are not that smart and not that tough. Most of their best fighters are like the Greek city-states under Athenian rule in the fifth century BC. Instead of supplying men to fight, they had shifted to just paying tribute to Athens for their defense. They forgot how to fight. Their men became accustomed to seeking favor from men who knew how to use weapons. That’s what you see all over the ruling class. They have power, but the muscles to use it are atrophying.
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