Meridianfrost as Jim Taggart: Contrived Laughter in Lieu of Rational Counter-argument
June 17, 2008 by Paul McKeever
I find it difficult to bring myself to watch shows like the Daily Show. Don’t get me wrong, some of the content on that show is quite funny. However, much too much of what today passes for “comedy” (especially on that show) consists of little more than running a clip of someone, then looking into the camera and either laughing or smiling.
The contrived laughter or smile, in such cases, is intended to provoke laughter amongst the viewership, in the hope that the viewership will dismiss the person about whom everyone is laughing. Why do they want the audience to laugh?
Consider that Ayn Rand once said that “humor is the denial of metaphysical importance to that which you laugh at”. I would argue that it follows that contrived laughter is a contrived denial of metaphysical importance to that which you pretend to laugh at. Those who offer up phony laughter believe that, if they can get everyone laughing at Mr. X tripping over a word or scratching his head, they need not provide a rational counter-argument to any argument offerred by Mr. X; they can offer up as “proven” the notion that Mr. X is an moron who can and should be ignored. The goal, of course, is to discourage people from listening to Mr. X’s arguments, for fear those arguments will persuade the listener.
Let us consider a case in point, as it relates to attacks on Objectivism and Objectivists.
Having relentlessly criticized subjectivism and intrinicism, Brandon Cropper (an Objectivist who goes by the youtube handle MrCropper) has established himself as youtube.com‘s resident thorn in the side of subjectivist and intrinicist youtubers. As a result, there is now literally a cadre of people (especially post-modernists) who apparently cannot get Cropper (and Objectivism) out of their minds and who, as a result, spend much of their time making videos comprised largely of ad hominem attacks on him (or upon Objectivism). Consider, as just one example of how obsessed these people have become, the amount of time and effort that was wasted on this anti-Cropper/anti-Objectivism video:
“When Objectivists Cry” by Meridianfrost
Such efforts bring to mind the old saying that the opposite of love is not hate, but indifference.
However, most of the videos attacking Cropper are even more pathetic than the one above, and fall into the contrived laughter I refer to above. For example, Cropper recently posted a video complaining that he never receives, from a post-modernist, an unequivocal, unambiguous argument about philosophy. Instead, he says, post-modernists (such as Meridianfrost, and other youtubers) are posturing sophists who “always resort to some sort of a metaphor” that is “non-concretizable”.
This ultimately led Meridianfrost to post an eight and a half minute video of himself watching a follow-up video by Cropper in which Cropper (who is a teacher, by trade) reviews metaphor and simile. Meridianfrost watches bits of Cropper’s video, then pauses to look into the camera, smile and/or laugh, and say something which implies that Cropper is a moron. The central thrust of his critique is that, because Cropper is reviewing the topic of metaphor and simile, it must be the case that Cropper himself never learned about metaphor and simile in the first place, such that his comments about post-modernists’ use of metaphor is uninformed, and such that Cropper should be dismissed.
“Mr Cropper Concretizes” by Meridianfrost
Perhaps the only thing more pathetic than Meridianfrost’s obvious attempt to dismiss Cropper without debating him is the fact that 745 people subscribe to Meridianfrost’s channel. They could all save a lot of time by just reading the following passage from Atlas Shrugged, and replacing the word “Jim” with “Meridianfrost”.
“Now this is why I say that you’ll never outgrow your background. If you had, you would have learned to appreciate Dr. Pritchett’s philosophy.”
“If you don’t understand it, I can’t explain.”
She would not let him end the conversation on that favorite formula of his.
“Jim,” she said, “he’s a phony, he and Balph Eubank and that whole gang of theirs…”
– Ayn Rand, “Atlas Shrugged”, pp. 875-876