Media Diary (April 2020)

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Some things I’ve experienced lately, in no particular order, and not necessarily only recent stuff:

Ozark (TV): Staggeringly good, and that last scene in the season 3 finale was 😬

Bad Education (Movie): Totally enjoyable

Unorthodox (TV): A fantastic show, couldn’t stop watching

Beastie Boys Story (Movie): I wasn’t super familiar with their history, and it’s amazing

Mrs. America (TV): Depressing subject matter done extremely well

Rams (Movie): What a career

The Last Dance (TV): While I’m about as far from a sports fan as you can get, I did grow up in Chicago in the ’90s, so this is catnip (and is also really good)

More Quibi Shows (Uh, Quibi): I wrote about a bunch of shows at their launch, but also into Agua Donkeys, Run This City, Dummy, The Stranger, Survive and Nikki Fre$h

Slow Burn (TV): I enjoyed the podcast, and am enjoying the show

Tales From The Loop (TV): Still early with this, but pretty interesting

Atlanta’s Missing and Murdered: The Lost Children (TV): Such a crazy story (and still compelling, even after the podcast and second season of Mindhunter)

California King (Podcast): All hail the kings

Gaming Historian (YouTube): Really impressed by these segments (and I’ll never tire of the subject matter)

Happy People: A Year in the Taiga (Movie): I’d last like 20 minutes in this environment

Rabbit Hole (Podcast): A chilling journey into YouTube radicalization

The Searchers (Movie): Despite the critical acclaim, I’d probably rank Unforgiven higher 🤷‍♂️

Run (TV): Pretty entertaining (and with short episodes! 🙌)

Shtisel (TV): Just started this (a recommendation from a friend after I tweeted about Unorthodox), but I’m already on board

‘Rona Recs

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During happier times, I did a few “what’s in my bag?”-style product recommendation posts, so I figured I’d continue the tradition, this time with an “items or services that I’ve found helpful during the age of Corona” focus:

Anker Soundcore Life Q20 Headphones: Got these based on a good Wirecutter review, and they’ve been a) great and b) essential in a house with five people and like 600 animals

Tushy Classic: Your butthole will be delighted

eero WiFi System: I’ve had this in place for a while, but it’s been extremely solid under heavy use across countless household devices

HelloFresh: We’ve used Blue Apron in the past as well (also good), but these kits have been invaluable during quarantine, and I’ve actually found myself semi-enjoying the act of cooking from time to time

PillPack: A huge help if you have recurring medication needs and want to avoid unnecessary pharmacy trips

Quibi: I posted some initial show picks a bit ago (with more to come in my upcoming April media diary), but I’ve definitely found these quick story bites worming their way into my daily routine

TikTok: I continue to be delighted by this whole scene, especially on the Corona meme front (shameless plug: sign up for my free newsletter to get my weekly TikTok favorites)

Betraying The Helpers

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When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

Fred Rogers

It’s a beautiful quote from an amazing man, but as Ian Bogost says so well, its message is targeted at frightened children, in an effort help comfort them during difficult situations:

We must stop fetishizing Rogers’s advice to “look for the helpers” as if it had ever been meant for us, the people in charge—even in moments when so many of us feel powerless. As an adult, it feels good to remember how Mr. Rogers made you feel good as a child. But celebrating that feeling as adults takes away the wrong lesson. A selfish one. We were entrusted with these insights to make children’s lives better, not to comfort ourselves for having failed to fashion the adult world in which they must live.

Ian Bogost

As I wrote a few weeks ago, churches excel at springing into action after a tragedy, showing fantastic displays of love through meal deliveries, calls for prayer, well-deserved spotlighting of first responders/medical professionals and more. I’ve seen it countless times with the death of loved ones and in the aftermath of natural disasters.

COVID-19 is no exception in this regard, but wildly different in another.

By shining a spotlight on (and expressing heartfelt gratitude to) the doctors, nurses and other on-the-ground heroes with one hand, but using the other to amplify messages from the science-denying, misinformation-spouting orange elephant in the room (or not calling out his dangerous rhetoric for fear of causing offense), they’re not only ensuring that we’ll keep experiencing preventable deaths, but are also actively putting our “helpers” in even more danger.

Here’s one of yesterday’s tweets from President Trump, disregarding the advice of his health advisors, risking countless lives and spitting in the face of the brave professionals working on the front lines, just to score political points with his conspiracy theory-primed base:

Here’s the thing, evangelicals: You can yoke yourself to Trumpism, or you can raise your voice in support of the helpers. You cannot do both.