Sarah Silverman is one of my obsessions. She’s politically right on, hilarious, and seemingly unafraid. You’d need to be unafraid given the pushback she gets on social media and elsewhere. To keep on keeping on in the face of sometimes fearsome opposition requires the kind of bravery I wish I possessed.
Which brings me to this story which is getting a lot of play in the press and my Facebook feed:
Sarah Silverman is known for her rather dark comedy but her heart is full of kindness. Instead of fighting fire with fire and insulting a sexist troll who called her the C-word, she responded with getting to know him and actually improving his life.
On the 28th of December, Twitter user Jeremy Jamrozy replied rudely to Silverman’s tweets, as she was reaching out to a Trump supporter in the hope of understanding where they were coming from. She didn’t ignore him nor did she got angry. Instead, Sarah took a completely different route, finding the roots of Jeremy’s anger – his health. Bored Panda
What followed were a series of tweets between Silverman and Jamrozy that culminated in him apologizing for being a tool and her reaching out through twitter to find him a job. Go here to see the full exchange.
This has been making the rounds as a feel-good story and deservedly so. It illustrates that we are perhaps not as different as we think, which (not incidentally) is the premise of her new show. I Love You America, With Sarah Silverman has a mission: to find common ground.
The description of the new Hulu show, per EW:
Silverman wants to unite, legitimately, or at least get people to think outside of their echo chambers. To that end, she filmed herself having dinner in Chalmette, La., with a family of Trump voters. She cheerfully gave a kid a fart machine, and she asked about their family history. She talked about Trump, and they made their case.
Basically, what she did with Jamrozy is the social media equivalent of that dinner, and it’s very on brand with her show.
Which brings me to my point: chances are the Twitter exchange was at least somewhat produced. Hear me out! As I’ve noted before, Sarah takes a great deal of flack for her positions and I doubt this is the first or even the 127th guy who’s called her a cunt. Does Silverman–who is pretty damn busy these days making and promoting her show, has 12.5 million followers on twitter, and averages about 500 replies per tweet–really have time to research every guy who tweets shit at her, with a view to finding common ground?
It’s far more likely that she has staff connected to her show follow up on folks who tweet her, particularly the naysayers, to find the kind of person with whom she may have enough of an ‘in’ to connect with (in this case through their shared medical issues). It’s basically a form of casting, and it’s pretty genius, to be honest.
However, the fact that it might have been somewhat cast doesn’t, in my opinion, in any way, make Silverman and Jamrozy’s moment less powerful or less real.
Despite the haters, there are similarly real moments in Reality TV – in scenario-driven content. That’s the kind of content wherein real people are placed into a situation designed/likely to stimulate their existing issues and conflicts. You know that show you watch where brides buy their dresses on camera? Well, those brides are cast. We really don’t have the time or money to shoot every person who comes into a wedding dress store, nor can we count on there being real conflict when they do, so we have to find real brides who have real mommy issues and cast them to appear on our show.
That doesn’t make the bride and mama drama any less real. Sure, we may edit it to seem slightly more dramatic than what went down, but usually we’re working with something pretty explosive to begin with. I mean, just think of your mom. Now think of your mom, plus the “the most important day of your life” and throw in money. Ka-fucking-boom!
Jamozy would be perfect cast because his evident struggles with his back gave Silverman something they could connect on, while tweets like this …
… gave her insights into his mindset. Chances are that there are more Jamrozy’s out there who she’s tweeted at who were less receptive to empathy. Their loss.
Not that I’m much better.
I have been resisting Sarah’s new show just because I’m still in the “I can’t deal with these people and I don’t wanna be all snowflakey” frame of mind. And yet … just last week I followed a Tea Party activist.
Backstory: I’d been obsessively following-up on people who featured in a true crime book I’d read. This is the kind of down the rabbit hole thing I tend to do when I’m unemployed or otherwise avoiding work. I have also been known to watch “I’m Fucking Matt Damon” on a loop.
In any event, I discovered that the kickass investigator on the case had gone from a Joan Jett loving dyke in the eighties to a present-day Tea Party activist. Since I like to keep tabs on things that could be developed into shows down the road, I followed her on Facebook. I immediately regretted it when her “Lefty Feminists are Mean to GOP Women” videos started jamming my otherwise pre-programmed everyone’s-in-agreement here feed. After a few days of this I decided that I have plenty enough to piss me off without Tea Party posts and unfollowed her.
Moments letter a notification popped up that she’d messaged me. Weird, thought I, is she coming after me because of the unfollow? A tad perturbed (I’m not Sarah Silverman and so scare easily) I went to my inbox and discovered that she was in fact responding to a message I’d sent while in some kind of Ambien-inspired fugue state the night before.
I literally cringed. What.the.fuck.had.fugue.me.said? Even wide awake I tend to troll Trumpers; fuck knew what kind of fights I’d chosen to pick in my sleep.
When I finally brought myself to read my message to her, it was as follows:
We may be on opposite sides of the aisle, but at least we can agree on Joan Jett.
Her response (sent at the moment I unfollowed her):
Not gonna lie, that did warm the heart a bit. It was my mini-Jamrozy moment, and I loved it.
So long story long, hire me Sarah. I’m unemployed and I’m apparently already doing what your producers do in my sleep.