For the first time in the modern history of the United States, a nationally televised presidential debate revolved around the relative merits of capitalism and socialism. More remarkably still, one of the candidates vigorously defended the latter side. The Saturday Night Live take on this year’s first Democratic primary, therefore, was keenly anticipated. Few, however, expected the coup de grâce that ensued: Larry David, briefly a writer for the show in the mid-1980s who would later go on to phenomenal success with the shows Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm, strode up to the podium and delivered a pitch-perfect rendition of the Vermont senator.
Terrorism operated on children as much as it did on adults. It formed us, growing up in this fear, and seeing fear on the faces of the grown-ups. It must have. However, I don’t recall ever being asked to draw those feelings.
The bullets had scarcely stopped flying in Paris before the pressure was on. There were the profile pictures filtered with le Tricolore or changed to show the user on holiday in Paris; the memes with cartoons by Charlie Hebdo illustrator Joann Sfar or words by Martin Luther King Jr; the condemnations of religious fundamentalism and pleas for tolerance on behalf of the peaceful majority of the world’s Muslims. The counter narrative went hand-in-hand: what about Beirut, we were asked with varying degrees of sanctimoniousness, where Islamic State militants had killed 41 people the day before the Paris attacks?
This belief that online is ‘free’, that it doesn’t take anyone’s paid writing job away or stifle anyone’s voice – while unspoken and in most respects probably true – needs to be measured against the crisis of magazines and of formally-edited selections of content more generally.
Everyone except the most flagrantly freeloading of publications, it seems, agrees that something needs to be done about the parlous state of writers’ pay – but what, exactly?