You may know Steven Crowder as a human meme; The person in the original ‘Change My Mind’ image who was photoshopped in support of a variety of increasingly bizarre causes.
That’s also how I first learned of Crowder, which raises entirely separate issues in regards to us being careful of what we deem memetic. If I could follow his content rabbit-hole to learn about his method of debate, I guarantee that impressionable, marginalised teenagers who’ve never been hugged have done the same.
The ‘Change My Mind’ image is from a popular video series made my Crowder, in which he takes a political stance on something, e.g ‘Build the Wall: Change My Mind’ or ‘Hate Speech Isn’t Real: Change My Mind’, and asks people to approach him and attempt to… well…change his mind, obviously.
Other than the shock-factor topics of discussion it seems like an innocent enough format. He’s clearly adopting online troll tactics, by baiting any potential debaters with a shocking headline that he knows will rub them the wrong way — but at least he’s doing it in person, right? He’s not just hiding behind some keyboard and spouting opinions into the world, as I’m currently doing, right this second.
I try and see the best in people, no matter who they are, so to begin with I attempted to look for the positives in his format — but beyond the fact that he’s doing it out in the open and owning his own opinions without a faceless, nameless avatar, I couldn’t find a single one.
He presents his format as a debate, or a friendly chat, a casual discussion even. He really lays it on at the start of each video by letting us know that he’s non-confrontational, backing it up by leaning casually and drinking a hot beverage, because drinking a hot beverage connotes relaxation.
The confrontational question, his then-confrontational style and him personally attacking people’s ideologies from a trolling and mocking perspective, obviously contradicts his set-up, but that’s exactly why he does it. If he tells his viewers at the start of the video that he’s not going to do something, but then does it anyway, they’ll remember what he said at the beginning and defend his actions that directly oppose his own words.
It’s clear from his videos, and his larger content network, that Crowder has absolutely zero interest in having his mind changed. If his mind were to be changed he’d no-longer be a hard-conservative social commentator, which is how he makes a living. His job is to have these opinions and to generate as much money as possible by holding these views. So changing Crowder’s mind is an impossible task for any potential debater.
More major criticisms of the format are the locations which he sets up his booths and the people he then speaks to (or the ones who aren’t edited out anyway). Typically he sets up his table on college campuses, in order to debate college-age students. Now, I know that students can be intelligent, articulate and passionate, but I also know that they have less life experience than Crowder.
Crowder used to work for Fox News, has produced content for Breitbart and now has his own digital media empire that includes his own show, YouTube channel and plenty of that sweet sweet merchandise.
My point is that Crowder has been in more debates, discussions and on-camera scenarios than most (if not all) students in America. He’s not debating his social equals, and a part of me has to wonder if there’s a reason for that.
In fact, the only people who he ends up debating on-camera are people who fall for the bait of the format in the first place. Anyone with legitimate critical thinking skills can see that the format is a set-up to feed Crowder’s ego and increase his viewers. Any possible ways of legitimately changing his mind would be edited out in post, or simply diverted away from by Crowder.
Another power-dynamic he utilises is the use of only one microphone. In most videos he holds the microphone and pulls it away from his volunteer at any point that he wishes to interject. Him pointing the microphone in their direction and leaning back creates the illusion of free-speech and open-discussion for the person he’s talking to — “I’m giving you the right to something you should already have anyway” — is the connotation there.
The use of two microphones would really help his cause in terms of creating the illusion of a fair debate, but it would also stop him from being able to instantly silence his opponent.
We can look to the YouTube comment-sections of his videos, or to the live crowd during his live ‘Socialism is Evil: Change My Mind’ broadcast to see the kinds of people who follow and support Crowder. They’re people who ready to lap-up hate and “own the libs” at a moment’s notice, but I don’t blame them.
As I said at the start, the only people who would think that this format is a fair, open and insightful debate are those who’re impressionable, marginalised and have never been sincerely hugged.
Crowder is the one peddling his carefully controlled and edited version of reality, and they’re eating it up as though he actually cares about anything other than his viewing figures increasing, and his pockets being lined. Remember, this guy is a hard-right conservative, which means wealth and personal gain are a self-admitted driving force of his ideology.
I’ve thought about what I would say if I were at the table with Crowder, but in the live broadcast he faces someone who uses calm logic and example-based evidence, so he resorts to name-calling and relying on the cheering crowd who’re (mostly) on his side. So no matter what you say, he will control the environment to give himself the illusion of a victory, so I wouldn’t even sit down at the table.
However, if I had to, I’d ask him why he believes the things he does, and then I’d listen. Oftentimes both sides of the debate have facts and statistics to support their argument, but he must’ve landed on his side for a reason. I’d love to listen to the whys of Steven Crowder, to really get to the heart of his personal stances.
Nobody who believes that we should treat hard-working people with contempt (anti-social mobility), or that Kwanza isn’t a real holiday (xenophobic), or that you can’t possibly use hate-speech towards another person because it doesn’t exist (arsehole) — I’m just going to say that nobody who believes those things had a happy childhood.
Steven Crowder Needs a Hug and a Therapist: Change My Mind.
Today is Thursday, September 13th and I am a left-leaning social democrat, own me.
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