TIME to Americans: You are stupid, vapid, self-absorbed narcissists.

TIME to Americans: You are stupid, vapid, self-absorbed narcissists. August 26, 2013




Viewing these covers, a question must be asked: do these moments of marketing (through a choice in covers) reveal more about Americans, or about the state of American journalism?

I fear the answer. – Daily Kos

If your response is, “That’s a troubling question” you are part of the solution to stupid media production and consumption.

If your response is, “He’s quoting the Daily Kos!  This post and this site are ritually impure!” you are part of the problem of stupid media production and consumption.

"The Catholic Church is a good deal more reasonable and compassionate now than it used ..."

Where Peter Is has a nice ..."
"The number of Christian missions isn't an indicator of the health of a society.Good grief."

Dear Prolife Suckers
"Observing history and the magisterium's own teaching isn't "hate."Wow.The Catholic Church did abuse Native Americans. ..."

Where Peter Is has a nice ..."
"Perhaps read the piece on hell by Avery Cardinal Dulles. A quick sound bite simply ..."

Where Peter Is has a nice ..."

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Timothy Quigley II

    And don’t forget this one from last month:

    • Dan C

      I am aware of two media-created narratives on the Trayvon Martin death. The conservative one, which prevailed in court, was of one that this was a man searching for a house to break into, who had been a master in mixed martial arts. This therefore justified his death.

      Race is a serious discussion in America.

      I live in the Northeast US. I was traveling to a work event and my boss, a doctor and African American woman was following me. My car stopped working 1 mile from my home and she used her car to push me. She was pulled over by the police and questioned as to her behavior. The police asked me if I was being harassed. MWhich is odd, since The same thing happened to someone else in the same area a year before, except I (a white male) was the car pushing the other home. The police stoped me and asked if they could help.

      The American conservative narrative that there is no more racism should be a poor comfort. While its not Jim Crow, there is still an embarassing series of matters in America.

      • Dave G.

        I’m sure there are some out there, but I have not heard a conservative say there is no more racism. I’ve heard some say the issue may be different than it was sixty years ago. I’ve heard a few say the issue may be more complex than the media suggests. I’ve heard some point out that there might be some who yell racism for different reasons. But I’ve not personally heard anyone – conservative or otherwise – say there is no more racism in America. So thankfully it’s an embarrassment I’ve not experienced.

      • meunke

        “The conservative one, which prevailed in court, was of one that this was a man searching for a house to break into”
        – *facepalm*
        No, what prevailed in court was that there was no real evidence to convict Zimmerman for murder. That’s it. Zero. Period. End of story. I’m sick and tired of people trying to twist this whole thing. And yes, that’s exactly what it seems you were trying to do.

        “She was pulled over by the police and questioned as to her behavior.”
        – Yeah, same thing happened to me,except I wasn’t pushing the car. Cops questioned me when I was helping a friend, and we are both white. The difference is that I looked disheveled and was driving a junky looking ’77 Plymouth Fury that was more rust than original paint and my friend was driving a rather nice, shiny VW sedan.

        Sure there is racism in the US (it exists in all races here, btw). Are there racist cops? I’m sure there are some. However, cops also tend to notice patterns and investigate situations based upon those patterns: Squad car pulls up next to an expensive SUV at a stop light full of young kids that are staring straight ahead and being totally quiet? Cop’s probably going to run the plates, as there’s a good chance they stole it and are on a joy ride. Junky car SLOWLY driving down streets in a very upscale neighborhood? Yup, he’s getting pulled over, as he appears out of place and there’s a very good chance he’s casing the neighborhood. He may just be lost.

        Look, there are reasons your average patrol cops do the things they do. And yes, based upon patterns, some of them do take race into account. They try to be VERY careful about it mostly. Why? Because it only takes a single charge of racism (not even proof, necessarily, just the charge) to totally destroy his career. The fact that you seem to attribute his acts to racism immediately tells me you probably don’t know any actual street cops. In my business, I’ve come to know lots. You should try to get to know some. You’ll find out they aren’t the foaming at the mouth racists that so many people seem to think they are.

        “The American conservative narrative that there is no more racism should be a poor comfort.”
        – While I would not classify myself as being part of what is considered today as the modern ‘conservative’ side, I would also have to say that I’ve never heard anyone say that there is ‘no racism’ anymore. I HAVE heard that it isn’t nearly as bad as everyone wants to thing, and I would agree with that.

        • Newp Ort

          I’m surprised there are this many people thinking it’s OK to push another car on a public road. Doesn’t anyone have AAA?

          • meunke

            Well, in my case this was about 8 years ago, she had no AAA and didn’t know who else to call about why her car stalled.

            What I see more of is the car using rope to tie the stalled car to the rear bumper and tow it, with the other person in the rear car trying to work the brakes so he doesn’t rear-end the towing vehicle. Fortunately, I’ve only see that on side roads. Doing that on the highway would result in a major accident quickly I’d think.

            • BHG

              8 years ago and this is relevant to today’s discussion on Trayvon how? The way that you presented this information would make me assume this happened last month, not eight years ago. SIGH.

              • meunke

                I have nothing to do with the Martin/Zimmerman thing. I was responding to Dan C’s story to show that a: not much changes, b: what he saw was not really weird or even ‘racist’ (his implication).

                I’m sorry that you were so disappointed that this happened longer ago than last month. I’ll try to make sure I have updated stories next time so you aren’t forced to heave a sigh. I will try not to disappoint you again. Or… you could try reading the whole thread before responding.

                • BHG

                  You are right; I read but misread. Forgive me. My point was just that old news is not always helpful in assessing where we are today–too prone are we to trap people–or societies– by their pasts.

                  • meunke

                    Actually, old news (aka ‘history’) is VERY helpful in seeing where we are today.

                    • BHG

                      Your turn to read. I said “not always,” not “not ever.” Of course history is important; anecdote alone is not history. And my point about refusing to see when people and societies have gone beyond where they were is, I think, still valid.

                    • BeezyBailey

                      See how quickly the topic changes from TIME to race issues, this is part of the problem with people today, they can’t focus on something for more than a few minutes before the discussion drifts.

                      In response to someone earlier stating how Brits are as vapid as Americans, well as someone who has worked and traveled extensively all over the world I can say with all authority that this is symptomatic of all “Western, First world, Industrialized countries” We are all indoctrinated through education, media and any other influential mechanisms to believe we are better, cleverer, and more equipped to dictate whats right and proper to lesser fortunate people. We in America, UK, Australia, Canada and the rest of the western world have allowed the corptocracy to completely soften not just our physical self but also our moral self. At some point we need to say enough and change things for the sake of future generations.

                  • M E Wood

                    Don’t worry Americans, you can’t be more shallow than New Zealand TV . The only news is either the America’s Cup Race ( yachting) in San Francisco Bay or the All Blacks…( rugby) Who will go to the next international. much anxiety.. and then only then a slight mention of Syria. with some qualified approval of Russia and the U.S . and the raising of the Costa Concordia which will cause pollution.of the ‘pristine’ Mediterranean Sea. for our overseas news content

                    So cheer up!

          • Maggie Goff

            Not everyone can afford it. Some people are barely able to put enough food on the table nowadays. I’m not exaggerating. I live in a poor county. Thank God we all take care of each other. I have Triple A because I save a little money each month to be able to pay for it when it’s due.

      • The Deuce

        What prevailed in court wasn’t a media-created narrative, but the truth, supported by the facts, that Zimmerman wasn’t a murderer. Not one of the jurors would advocate the “conservative narrative” that you claim “prevailed” among them. But your preference for an emotionalized, politicized narrative over the truth does help to explain why our media is the way it is, and to illustrate the effects of it at the same time.

      • enness

        Let’s assume I accept the premise that there is a single “conservative narrative.” It does not follow that this “prevailed in court.” I would say that what prevailed in court was reasonable doubt.
        If I am allowed to speak for myself, as a conservative, the only thing that justifies his death — if justify is even the right word, which I very much doubt — is self-defense if he was indeed beating the man’s head against the pavement.

  • moseynon

    The news which is presented by the mass media, whether via print, cable or broadcast, is a commodity. Marketing determines the topics which will be presented and in what detail. Audiences are surveyed and focus-grouped to make sure that the big money investment has a profitable return.

    By and large, Americans have little interest in international events, except as it directly affects Americans. Oh sure, we do love news about the British royal family. And sometimes the disaster-of-the-week might hold our attention for a brief while, but in short order boredom sets in and audiences get restless. With all the entertainment options available to the American public, news organizations are under the gun to stay relevant with audience interests.

    HL Mencken, back in 1926, predicted that tabloid journalism would dominate American news in the future because the public had little appetite for news which challenges them. The marketplace would rule, driving out serious news reporting. That seems to describe much of what is presented via television and magazines today.

    • Merkn

      What do you mean by “. News which challenges them”. Does the typical reader of the NY Times seek out challenging news or news or news that is presented within the context of a preconceived worldview.

      • moseynon

        I believe that Mencken was referring to news which forces the reader to learn about issues or events with which they have little prior knowledge, and even less current interest.

        As for preconceived worldviews, I think we are all guilty of that, at least on certain topics. When we have a closed mind, our emotions interfere with our willingness to consider facts which are contrary to what we are comfortable believing. I do not doubt that this very human flaw affects the readers of the New York Times as much as does anyone.

  • Dave G.

    I don’t think it has anything to do with the source. I would like to see more. I mean, are there ones American TIME has produced that are deep and meaningful while in other countries it was some shallow topic? If it is always like this and never another way around, then it would definitely be troubling.

  • CompassRose

    Re: Dailykos. The source does not matter. Even a blind pig finds an acorn now and then. . .and a stopped clock is right twice a day.

  • Stu

    Are they wrong?

  • Diana

    Is the content of the magazines different as well?

  • Mark S. (not for Shea)

    The answer to the question is of course: BOTH.
    We live in a bread and circuses culture. Our government is shredding our Constitution, Big Business is enslaving us all, but people are more upset over Ben Affleck playing Batman.

    • meunke

      In their defense, did you SEE what he did to Daredevil?

      • Dave G.

        Now that made me laugh out loud! Thank you.

  • ladycygnus

    Does the magazine pander to a self-absorbed audience or does the audience become self-absorbed constantly reading about themselves and not hearing about global events? Given what I’ve seen of British TV and visiting exchange students I have a hard time believing they are less self-absorbed than Americans.

    • Stu

      Actually, the question should be, “Does the magazine really have much of an audience?”

      When was the last time anyone seriously picked up and issue of Time?

      • Mark S. (not for Shea)

        The last time I was at the dentist’s office.

        • Stu

          That’s what I figured. The only people keeping Time afloat are dentists.

          • kmk1916

            and orthodontists, but not hair salons.

  • dennis pellant

    Time is fire place starter. The Real mag for info is The Economist. And, no, it’s not just about England. !!

  • Joe

    And they would be right.

  • Eve Fisher

    One of the basic memes of current day corporate capitalism is to convince everyone in America that we are the only country that matters. Europeans are a bunch of effete, wine-drinking, socialist has-beens, and the Middle East – why did God give them oil, anyway? – well, none of them have nothing important to say to us, so what happens overseas is either irrelevant or will be taken care of by “our” military. At the same time, of course, within the corporate world it’s very plain that we are rapidly becoming irrelevant as a market, because what they talk up in their self-promotions is their growing markets overseas, i.e., China, India, etc. Another important meme is American exceptionalism, at which God must be laughing Himself silly, when He’s not crying about it. In any case, isolation works – it creates the illusion of control, of power, of structure. Ask anyone who grew up in an abusive family, what’s the first thing you do when you want to take power? Isolate the spouse and kids from the rest of the world. Works every time.

    • enness

      I thought American exceptionalism had more to do with how we started than where we are now?

      • Eve Fisher

        I’ve heard a number of people say that American exceptionalism means that we have a glorious, God-given destiny to rule (or at least police) the world, and help prepare for the Second Coming. We must be, now and forever, a global superpower, with the world’s greatest military, because it is God’s will. Seriously. I’m quoting.

      • tonguetiedfred

        My understanding is that the idea of American exceptionalism is that, ideally, anyone can come to America and join the society and become an American. Not just legally but socially, and in the mind of everyone around them they have become just as American as anyone born here and are therefore free, not just on paper, to capitalize on every opportunity that presents itself or that they can create…

    • Quantum of Soulace

      The hairy monkeys don’t have important to say to us, other than, “Silence! I kill you!” Apparently the Hadith of Mohammed does not go beyond this.

  • GaryLayng

    I believe it reveals more about the state of American journalism. I know plenty of Americans who are nowhere near this self-centred, but American journalism is reinforcing within the US that tendency that every human has of being self-centred.

    And it probably reflects American business: marketing by appealing to the lowest common denominator.

  • enness

    Well, not ritually impure, but it wouldn’t be unheard of that there was perhaps some selective editing of samples that didn’t fit the pattern. Not that I have anything solid.

    Still…heh. Good one.

  • jimbojamesiv

    The ridiculous aspect of this article is that it assumes people read Time, let alone laughably believe it’s a credible source of information.

    Honestly, what goes on the cover makes no difference, since everyone knows don’t judge a book by its cover, no matter how stupid, vapid or dumb you are

  • michael

    spot on…
    a person who reads 3 languages is trilingual
    a person who speaks 2 languages is bilingual
    a person who can speak/read one language is an ameircan

    • Fred hgggg

      i was about to get snippy with you, but i stopped myself. The truth hurts and your absolutely right.

      im not going to say im some sort of expert, but ive been to several countries, ranging from west europe to the mid east. Everywhere i went, not just heavy tourist area, everyone knew how to speak english(mostly) or some other language, even if a little bit.

      Americans are people too. our media is no longer media, but propaganda. While one can say americans are “self centered”, or weve gotton “dumber”, but i say it is by design. For TIME to have to do 2 separate cover stories, one specifically for the US tells me someone somewhere along the chain decided learning about the world is not needed.

      Everyone wants to hear the truth, even if most dont make an effort to reach it.

  • Alex

    Americans to Time: we stopped reading your mag 50+ years ago.

  • Andrew

    yea at least the portion I spend my time with find this extremely upsetting what do you want us to do about it? Do you have a suggestion for stopping this? Pointing out a problem and not providing a solution is pointless go point fingers at someone else

    • Anon

      Pointing out the problem is still a step in the right direction.

      • Andrew

        I saw an article on this when the first cover came out man old old news. Yet still no solution just judgement.

  • Nobodyspecial

    The author must be one of us americans just took an article and made it theirs.

  • Josh Doyle

    I’m an American, and I agree this is sad. Not all of us are self centered idiots.

    • But, increasingly, the ones who vote and the ones who get used for “man in the street” interviews on corporatist media are.

  • When I see these covers, I’m saddened that Time feels the need to perhaps dumb it down for us and I’m not sure why they do, except that an uninformed public is easier to control? That’s the only conclusion I can come to.

    • Goebbels put it best: “If you control the information that a man reads or hears on the radio” (this was before TV, let alone the Net, remember), “you control his opinions, his feelings, even his thoughts. You can make him support, and do, things clearly against his own best interests simply by painting those things as popular, or patriotic. If the man is properly trained not to take dissenting voices seriously, then he is a slave who needs no chains, for his mind is chained to whatever you wish it to be chained to.”

      American corporatists and their media vassals have read their Goebbels.

  • Mark

    I am making all of my friends and family unsubscribe from Time immediately! This is disgusting. Sickening. Your Time is up.

  • Jirob


  • A Virnig

    Thats why we DO NOT subscribe to TIME. If we are not paying for the information we so deserve, why give them a penny or even our attention?

  • oahumike

    Time Magazine is an ultra-liberal, anti-American, Statist rag. I can’t believe anyone would read that nonsense.

  • Cat’s Paw

    I think these examples say more about Time Magazine than it does Americans. I don’t subscribe to Time Magazine and frankly, don’t know anyone who does. This looks to me more like a deliberate withholding of at least potentially pertinent journalism. The American issues look like they write for junior high students.

  • Just a capitalist observation.

    Um, we have dumbed down ultra-liberal smut because good accurate publishers went out of business when the American public didn’t buy their work…

    • Ben

      Nothing about the American magazine covers suggests liberal. Just petty.

  • Red White and Blue Proud

    The U.S. covers attack the family and Americans in general. In my opinion, and it s only my opinion; its part of predictive programming to keep us anxious, insecure and on drugs.