Ronson’s argument is essentially a reactionary liberalism taking shelter in the privilege of the status quo: while the ideals of twitter shaming campaigns are well-founded, their application, in practice, is problematic. They go too far. Innocents have suffered. His rhetorical appeal, therefore, is like the many liberals who have written books and essays and memoirs about how they joined the communist party (or Occupy, or whatever) only to discover that it didn’t instantly solve everything painlessly and precisely, who find fault with every activist who isn’t literally the saintliest fantasy of MLK and Gandhi rolled into one. The theory is (still) good, they always say, but the practice leaves something to be desired. I’m all for anti-racism, but you know what, I can’t get on board with disrupting people’s commute.Aaron Bady: On Landings, Soft and Otherwise, and Aggressive Lacks of Proportion.
I started to wonder about the recipients of our shamings, the real humans who were the virtual targets of these campaigns. So for the past two years, I’ve been interviewing individuals like Justine Sacco: everyday people pilloried brutally, most often for posting some poorly considered joke on social media. Whenever possible, I have met them in person, to truly grasp the emotional toll at the other end of our screens. The people I met were mostly unemployed, fired for their transgressions, and they seemed broken somehow — deeply confused and traumatized.
Hader was a true soul aficionado, with an encyclopaedic knowledge and 10,000 records at home. Which is why he was so amazed to discover 38 albums by a soul singer he had never heard of. His name was Mingering Mike. Hader stared at the record covers. He read the liner notes. There was Mingering Mike’s 1968’s debut, Sit’tin by the Window. The cover art was a painting of a young man in a green T-shirt, good-looking, serious. The comedian Jack Benny had written the liner notes, calling him “a bright and intelligent young man with a great, exciting future awaiting him”.Jon Ronson looks at the story of Mingering Mike (SLGrauniad), a long-lost soul singer whose records were found at a flea market in 2003, but who turned out to not actually have existed. [more inside]
Jon Ronson (previously) visits Shimer College, recently named by the Washington Monthly's Ben Miller, to the chagrin of students, faculty, and even Miller himself, as the worst college in America (previously).
Security alert: notes from the frontline of the war in cyberspace Jon Ronson interviews Andrew Auernheimer aka weev, Kim Dotcom, 'Troy' from Anonymous and Mercedes Haefer
I was born in Washington DC. I was potty trained at one and a half. Was reading at age two. Saw my first porn at a drive-in when I was six, in the back seat. Started getting in trouble with the law when I was about ten. And then kept getting in trouble until twenty one I went to prison and then when I got out came to Tennessee and went to college here in Johnson City and then I’ve just being doing art ever since. Art has saved my life, it’s like the best therapy in the world. Jon Ronson meets Bryan Saunders, who has created 8,700 self-portraits including, including most notably, 50 whilst under the influence of various different drugs (previously)
But I couldn't do it. I spent three months and I just couldn't do it. And the reason was because I kept on meeting people who worked in the credit industry and they were really boring. I couldn't make them light up the page. And, as I said in The Psychopath Test, if you want to get away with wielding true malevolent power, be boring. Journalists hate writing about boring people, because we want to look good, you know?A Chat With Writer Jon Ronson [more inside]
Jon Ronson (whose book The Psychopath Test was the basis of a This American Life episode ) interviews folks living in America at several varied levels of income in: GQ - Amber Waves of Green.
"I'm banned," he says. "By whom?" I ask. "My landlord," he says. "And the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority." Jon Ronson on DIY science.
This is the story of one cut. Back in October 2010 George Osborne announced £95 billion in cuts to public services, saying he’d leave it to councils to choose what to shut down. Inevitably most of the casualties ended up being unrenowned places, unlikely to stir up much protest - drop-in centers in housing estates, inner-city park rangers, community theatres, etc. I wanted to write about just one of them, about the ripples created by a single closure. I made my selection quite randomly. I chose a place called Youthreach. I didn’t know much about them, only that they offered weekly counseling sessions to young people, aged 11–25, in Greenwich, South East London. Jon Ronson
When Rebecca Coriam vanished from the Disney Wonder in March, hers became one of the 171 mysterious cruise ship disappearances in the past decade. So what happened? Jon Ronson booked himself a cabin to find out…
"If you have basically heard no music, and then you're told to create music, what will it sound like?" Jon Ronson talks to The Shaggs - the girl group from the 1960s who were home schooled and practised for hours every day in their basement.
"A fucking elephant is a miracle. If people can't see a fucking miracle in a fucking elephant, then life must suck for them, because an elephant is a fucking miracle. So is a giraffe."
"I don't know how magnets work," I say, to put him at his ease. Jon Ronson meets the Insane Clown Posse
"If we are ever contacted by aliens, the man I'm having lunch with will be one of the first humans to know." Jon Ronson meets Paul Davies, the Chair of the Seti (Search For Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Post-Detection Task Group.
Jon Ronson On "Each week in a series of interviews, short location reports, scripted monologues, phone calls etc, Jon Ronson delves into a world of personal stories surrounding the central theme which all shed light on the human condition." You can download all the episodes here.
The Alpha Course has been a widely popular - and controversial - initiative by the Church of England to get people more interested in the Church. In 2000, the Jewish journalist Jon Ronson attended a course to see what was going on.
Stanley Kubrick's Boxes: is it possible to get to understand such a man – and his extraordinary working methods – by looking through the hundreds of boxes he left behind? [more inside]
"I want to recreate a great Bond journey," I say. "I want to take a passage from one of the novels and assiduously match Bond car for car, road for road, meal for meal, drink for drink, hotel for hotel." [more inside]
Death's Midwife: Jon Ronson meets the Reverend George Exoo, controversial right-to-die activist. [more inside]
“He'd speak wistfully about some future day when he'd have less work on and could investigate the paranormal for real. And now that day has come.” Jon Ronson attends a UFO conspiracy conference with Robbie Williams. Compare and contrast, Dan Aykroyd.
The weird world of Deal Or No Deal.
"My God," I thought, as I climbed off the treadmill, exhausted. "They're in a bubble. They've got no sense of reality. They have, in Noel Edmonds, a charismatic leader who believes in nutty things. It's like a religious cult! An incredibly nail-biting and entertaining cult, brilliantly presented by Noel, but a cult none the less."Jon Ronson (previously discussed here, here, here and here) goes behind the scenes of the wildly successful British version of Deal Or No Deal.
"I am standing at the traffic lights when the woman next to me, lost in her thoughts, suddenly bursts out laughing. Then she immediately covers her mouth with her hand and glances around, embarrassed. This gives me an idea. I phone the photographer Stephen Gill. 'Let's walk around looking for people who are laughing to themselves because of something they've just thought of,' I say. 'When we find them, you take their photograph and I'll ask them what they were thinking about that was so funny.'" Jon Ronson sets out to discover the secret source of joy.