Brandon Wetherbee is the host of the You, Me, Them, Everybody talk show. See him Friday, October 6 with Wesley Lowery, Camille Roberts, Haywood Turnipseed Jr, Allison Lane and more at The Wonderland Ballroom in Washington, D.C.
Craig Ferguson is my favorite talk show host because he used the most obscure (for American audiences) references. If I wanted to enjoy the show, I was forced to learn more about punk rock and Scotland and the U.S. immigration process. The more I learned, the more I was rewarded. And if I didn’t understand, I didn’t miss out on the dumb and fun puppets. I was able to enjoy the show without laughing at why other people were laughing.
I do not enjoy the work of Jimmy Fallon. I do not care for games I can not play. I prefer not to witness games of chance played by others. I do not want to watch celebrities co-opting lip syncing while claiming ignorance to its origins.
Craig Ferguson and Jimmy Fallon were on opposing networks in the same time slot for years. Fallon won. By a lot. Now he’s the host of America’s most popular late night franchise. Ignorance was and is rewarded.
It’s much easier to hold an audience by playing the middle. Ratings prove challenging an audience isn’t best for business. Co-opting culture is much easier and lucrative than doing something that requires research for reward. This extends well beyond talk shows. It’s evident in every aspect of life. From politics to music to the office, ignorance is rewarded.
Last night Senator Ted Cruz liked some safe for work porn on his Twitter account. Now we all know Ted Cruz likes a certain type of porn. That’s perfectly fine. Ted Cruz is pretending he’s ignorant of how Twitter works. That’s bullshit. That’s common.
This is the part of the essay that I tie TMZ to Ted Cruz. A few weeks ago Kanye West was photographed by TMZ. The tabloid assumed a t-shirt was a statement in response to Taylor Swift’s universally panned “Look What You Made Me Do.” In a short piece that includes no actual comment from Kanye West, TMZ titled their easy click, “KANYE WEST BLOODY UNIMPRESSED By Taylor Swift’s New Album.” The worst part of the four paragraph article was, “Kanye’s sporting a t with the words, “my bloody Valentine” emblazoned on the front. Unclear what that means.”
If you don’t know why Kanye is wearing a shirt that says My Bloody Valentine, Google “My Bloody Valentine.” It’s fine if you don’t know about one of the most important shoegaze bands of all time. It’s not fine if you don’t do the minimum amount of research before pontificating about the greatest artist of the last two decades possibly reacting to one of the biggest Diet Coke spokespeople of all time.
Ignorance isn’t a political or age or gender issue. If you don’t know something, look it up. If you’d rather remain ignorant, you’ll be associated with Ted Cruz and TMZ and Jimmy Fallon. It’s fine for some, but I’d rather know how to use Twitter, listen to My Bloody Valentine and learn about Archbishop Desmond Tutu (Fergurson won a Peaboddy for his 2009 episode “The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson: An Evening with Archbishop Desmond Tutu”) than have shame about porn, prefer “Look What You Made Me Do” to Loveless and steal from Drag Race.