People’s faith in traditional mass media might be at an all-time low, but if “alternative” news sources continue to pull bullshit like this to get clicks, they won’t be far behind.
Of course, I’m talking about street interviews, the kind where a smug reporter sticks a microphone in some random guy or gal’s face with the sole intent of making them look stupid.
Normally these segments are designed to serve as harmless comedic fodder, but most of the time they come across as being condescending and mean-spirited.
Never afraid to shy away from a little yellow journalism, our good friends over at the Rebel Media thought that the start of the new school year would be a great time to pull out this tasteless tactic. In a video released on Sept. 6, reporter Lauren Southern can be seen scouring Ryerson University’s campus in an attempt to find a single student who would support Republican nominee Donald Trump for president.
And surprise, surprise, most of the responses she gets from freshman are shallow and inarticulate. It’s almost like university students in early September are much more preoccupied with buying books, figuring out living arrangements, and signing up for classes rather than providing a hollow soundbite about a complete dumpster fire of an election.
But we shouldn’t place all of our ire at the feet of a sensationalist news organization like the Rebel. After all, these kinds of tacky ambush interviews were made famous in this country thanks to your mom’s favourite TV personality, Rick Mercer.
We all remember “Talking to Americans,” right? It was the flagship segment from This Hour Has 22 Minutes, where Mercer confronts “uncultured” U.S. citizens and prompts them to answer absurd questions about the Great White North.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand why these bits are so beloved. After all, demonstrating intellectual and moral superiority over our southern neighbours is Canada’s third most popular pastime behind apologizing and buying milk in bags. But why on earth are you supposed to root for Mercer in these situations, especially when he has the power of misleading questions and selective editing on his side?
And thanks to YouTube, the template Mercer perfected has spread like a virus. Now, anybody with a camera, sound equipment, and an unyielding sense of entitlement can spend their days making complete strangers look like idiots. Some of this content is even starting to overlap with prank channels, which are the absolute lowest of the low.
What’s worse is that these segments are totally indicative of our overwhelmingly hostile political climate. They show us that people are more willing to tear somebody down rather than trying to educate them about the laundry list of problems that plague our country.
However, the one positive thing I can say about these street interviews is that they defy any kind of political bias.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a right-wing hipster like Gavin McInnes, or if you’re a crusading lefty like University of Ottawa alumna Samantha Bee, these segments always reek of elitism and dishonest media manipulation.
Thanks, Rick Mercer.