Bill O’Reilly really is the Olympic gold medalist of mansplaining. His rock-solid certainty that teen pregnancy (which he appears to believe is rising when it’s declining, due to improved contraception use), unemployment and all other manner of social ills can all be solved with a strongly worded lecture to young people, especially young people of color, to stop fucking will never be deterred by common sense , evidence, or his own obvious lack of interest in learning a damn thing about the cultural phenomenon he denounces. The cranky, out-of-touch know-it-all routine was on full display when Valerie Jarrett came on his show.
Choice quotes regarding his obsession with fucking and how it needs to be stopped, at least in cases that don’t involve him: “I want Michelle Obama to come on this program — right here — and I want Michelle Obama to look into that camera and say, ‘You teenage girls, you stop having sex. You stop getting pregnant. This is wrong.’ I want her to do that right here.”
Taking this comment literally will cause the average person to think Bill O’Reilly is, bar none, the stupidest man alive. Not just because he apparently seems to think that teenage girls have never heard adults lecture them about the evils of sex before, but that he thinks the best way to get this ever-so-important message to them is through his show, which may be the least popular TV show out there for teenage girls. Fishing shows probably reach more teenage girls.
But we shouldn’t take crap like this literally, since it’s not meant for actual teenage girls, but for the angry old people in the audience. Like I wrote recently at RH Reality Check, regarding the similar slate of “get married, single ladies!” articles in places like the Wall Street Journal:
I have my suspicions about why the “go get married, ladies!” lectures always ignore this reality. That’s because these articles aren’t really meant as sincere advice for single women. These articles are about perpetuating a nasty stereotype, trying to convince people that giving women access to financial independence and higher education has “ruined” them. The argument embedded in a piece like Patton’s is that sexual liberation and women’s equality are failed experiments because women are too silly and stupid to use their rights responsibly. The audience for a piece like this is not college women, who are unlikely to be reading the Journal. It’s a majority male, largely conservative audience that wants to hear that women’s precious freedoms need to be clipped for our own good. It’s a classic concern troll, and should be understood as nothing more than that.
O’Reilly doesn’t care if any teenage girls hear his pointless lectures on the evils of sex. These lectures are for the pleasure of cranky old conservatives fucks, to remind them that teenage girls are having sex without their permission, to piss them off. The goal is not to get girls to say, “Hey, I guess I shouldn’t have sex!” The goal is to get the Fox audience to say, “Who do these kids think they are?”
The cluelessness regarding rap, a form of music that is basically starting its fourth decade of being around, was also kind of amazing:
“You have to attack the fundamental disease if you want to cure it,” O’Reilly told Jarrett. “Now I submit to you that you’re gonna have to get people like Jay Z, Kanye West, all these gangsta rappers to knock it off.”
“They idolize these guys with the hats on backwards, and the terrible rap lyrics and the drug and all of that,” he continued, adding that high-profile figures need to hammer young people with that message to “reverse the peer pressure.”
This prompted a great response from Jamelle Bouie about the silliness of the “politics of respectability”:
That’s what O’Reilly wants. He sincerely believes that things will be better if young minority men would stop listening to hip-hop, stop wearing “urban” fashion, and adopt better role models. But this is nonsense. You might win adult approval for wearing a suit and swapping your Chief Keef for Miles Davis, but it won’t fix your crumbling school or stop police harassment.
It’s also a weird reversal of causation. ‘Gangsta’ behavior didn’t create the ghetto, the ghetto created ‘gangsta’ behavior. And likewise, the ghetto was created by racist public policy. To take this history, and then blame hip-hop for the circumstances of young minorities is to adopt the logic of racists. It’s a recipe for failure.
And O’Reilly’s rant is evidence of exactly this. Because Kanye West built his career on his first three albums with reference to higher education in the title and was widely known for being a preppy dresser. Jay-Z, of course, is a mega-rich businessman who frequently favors suits and is married to a straight up fashion icon. Didn’t stop O’Reilly from lambasting them with a bunch of stereotypes, which neatly proves that dressing a certain way does not, in fact, cause people like Bill O’Reilly to start treating you differently. Jay-Z could be rocking a fucking tuxedo, and O’Reilly would be whining about “backwards” baseball caps. (Which is a fashion I tend to associate mainly with rednecky types, these days, but what do I know?)
But again, none of this is good faith discourse. O’Reilly is selling a stereotype to his audience, secure in the knowledge that they don’t know enough about hip-hop to know that he’s full of shit on even the basic facts.