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On Sarah Cooper




I reached my boiling point when I was listening to Hillary Clinton call Sarah Cooper a genius.

Up to that point, I found Cooper's success irritating for a few reasons.

First would be that I firmly believe TikTok, while definitely having talented people on it, has also gone the way of every other social media app by amplifying people who are doing the dumbest shit possible.

Secondly, very very smart people, people much smarter than me, had been touting Cooper and her lip syncs to the President, echoing the call that she's a genius and calling them "satire."

Now, nobody likes to stretch the limits of the word "satire" more than me, but...is this satire?

I watched the lip syncs.

They're funny.

They're enjoyable.

Are they...genius?

Uhhh...I don't...think so?

It's not a dig at Cooper. She might be a genius. But can lip syncing to someone else's words and making funny videos around them make you a genius?

Should it get you a ticket to talk to Hillary F#$%^ing Clinton?

Listening to the interview, I was struck by how likable Cooper is. She seems very humble and down-to-earth, and that made me feel bad for being so irked by her fame.

But then I realized that she herself seems to be unsettled by it.

She admittedly put out two books that failed and her career in comedy was going nowhere until she started making these videos.  Essentially, she says that when she tried to become successful in substantial ways, it was a no-go, and then when she did something silly, her popularity exploded. I don't think it would be assuming too much to say that she doesn't seem to love the idea that this is what she's known for, especially when we're all hoping there will be less and less reasons for the President to make speeches in a few weeks.

I decided to buy one of Cooper's books and read them and she is, in fact, brilliant.

Now I went from being annoyed at her fame to being annoyed that she is famous for THE ENTIRELY WRONG THING.

It seems to me that this fixation on creating platforms that amplify and celebrate short-form content is good in theory, but also forces people who are adept at explaining really complicated issues--and in some cases, finding humor in the explanation--and puts them in the tiniest of boxes, inevitably shoe-horning them into dumbing themselves and their work down and also guiding them towards more topical humor that's bound to expire sooner rather than later even if it's not political. It also pushes the rest of us into having to come up with in-depth criticism for work that's just...flimsy. I mean, that's the point. The flimsiness is the point, but we're also a thinkpiece culture, where anything that gets millions of views online has to be dissected as though it's Crime & Punishment. It's an Emperor's New Clothes state of being where even the Emperor knows he's naked, but people are saying he looks hot, so maybe he should just shut up.

This is all to say--

Go read Sarah Cooper's books and stop sharing those videos, because none of us want to hear the President's voice anymore anyway.

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