Unethical Quote Of The Day: Blogger Ann Althouse

“Who is Miles Teller?”

—Ann Althouse, at the end of her blog post commenting on the premiere of “Saturday Night Live” and the New York Times’ review of it

The SNL premiere was guest-hosted by Miles Teller.

I’ve got some income-producing work to do for a client early this morning and I shouldn’t be working on an Ethics Alarms post, and I know I’ve been picking on Ann a lot lately, but I really can’t let this pass.

It’s really simple: if Althouse is going to engage in popular culture commentary as if her opinion should be taken seriously (as in “is worth reading on her blog”), then she has a base obligation to be at least minimally informed regarding American popular culture. She isn’t. She has never been, and I have read her blog for more than two decades, back when she was a law professor. There are arbitrary pockets of pop culture that she is obsessed with (like Bob Dylan songs), but it has always been obvious that Althouse is not very conversant in classic films or network TV; she’s even blogged about this hole in her experience. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, except that if one is going to critique popular culture, especially a show that at least purports to satirize current personalities and themes within pop culture, it is irresponsible, incompetent and arrogant (dare I say, “stupid”?) do do so when you literally don’t know what you are talking about.

Sixty-something Ann Althouse asking “Who is Miles Teller?” is the exact mirror image of those lazy jokes on TV and in movies about clueless Millennials who ask, “Who is John Wayne?” or “Who were The Beatles”‘ after a Boomer makes a reference to them or their equivalents. Saturday Night Live has always featured as guest hosts actors and singers (and sometimes, less successfully, politicians) who are currently popular, in the news and hot commodities, so Ann had to know that if Miles Teller was hosting the first show of the season, he must qualify. If she wasn’t familiar with him, then obviously she should have Googled his name: it would take all of three seconds. Her question, at the end of a post suggesting that “Saturday Night Live” is tired, unfunny and irrelevant (not that it isn’t), conveys stunning elitism as well as the qualities I already attached to it.

Miles Teller is the co-star of the biggest movie of the year, here and world-wide, “Top Gun: Maverick” starring Tom Cruise. As of October 2, 2022, it has grossed $713 million in the United States and Canada, and another $763 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $1.476 billion. The film is by far the highest-grossing of Cruise’s long career, and that’s saying something. It is well on its way to being one of the top five grossing movies of all time. (Quick review: “Top Gun: Maverick” is a blast, and I even forgive it for having such predictable plot twists and ripping off so many other movies, including “Star Wars.” Ann hasn’t seen enough movies; “Top Gun: Maverick” made me realize that I’ve seen too many. )

Writing “Who is Miles Teller?” in 2022 is almost as foolish as writing “Who is Vivien Leigh?” in 1939. Maybe more so, as I think about it: Teller has been a prominent star since “Whiplash,” the acclaimed 2014 film in which he played a young drummer mentored by a character played by J.K. Simmons in an Oscar-winning performance.

In a desperate effort to excuse Ann’s gaffe, I’ve been trying to convince myself that she was making a joke, posing as one of those Boomers who say things like “What’s an app?” or “What’s a tweet?” I can’t.

Jeez, Ann…try to keep up. And if it’s too hard…and there is no shame in that, since it’s nearly impossible fr most people…at least don’t make snide comments about what you haven’t kept up on.

[Note: I haven’t time right now to read the comments on that post. I assume Ann’s readers are giving her “what-for.” I hope so.]

24 thoughts on “Unethical Quote Of The Day: Blogger Ann Althouse

    • Exactly.

      As for Miles Teller – I had to look him up on IMDB. I’ve never heard of *any* of the movies he’s been in except Top Gun: Maverick (which we still haven’t seen) and the Divergent series – another dull entry in the “teens take on an inaccurate analogy of modern society” genre of films (related to Maze Runner, yawn, and Hunger Games). And in that unmemorable one, I’m not even sure who Teller plays. I thought I’d heard of Fantastic Four but it’s just another rendition of the series. The actual Fantastic Four that I’m familiar with is from 2005.

      • In short – I think I’m saying that the name Miles Teller would probably only be commonly recognizable because of Top Gun: Maverick. In which case the indictment on Ann Althouse here (and me) is having not seen Maverick yet. Otherwise, I just don’t know how much the recognition of Miles Teller is a necessity for being in the know. Anyway, appearing on SNL at this point probably implies a level of obscurity that the particular young actor is trying to undo.

      • Yes, but then you didn’t write a post criticizing a show that has represented and satirized current pop culture since the Seventies. Nobody has to know Miles Teller, but one has to at least know there would be a good reason for him to host SNL, that reason being he is currently famous. (He’s also very good.) Nobody has to see the Top Gun movie either, just as nobody had to see “Star Wars,” but writing a critique of a “Star Wars” era SNL hosted by Mark Hamill with a snarky, “Who is Mark Hamill?” is signature significance.

            • As of late, with a 7 year old and a 9 year old – most media we consume is geared towards them. In the evenings after they are in bed, I’ve been trying to get back into reading. Currently on John Keegan’s “The American Civil War”. He worked in a little bit of historically accurate humor when discussing the Confederate Conscription Act:

              “Conscription proved unpopular in the South, with willing patriots because it devalued their voluntary commitment to serve, with the reluctant because it brought them into the ranks willy-nilly. The very reluctant could use state connections to secure exemption, by joining state militias retained for home service. The better-off could by substitutes, not otherwise liable for conscription, to serve for them, or claim exemption for “essential service”, such as school teaching. There was a sudden creation of new schools across the South immediately after the passage of the Conscription Act.”

              • You are a bad person, connecting an author I like to a subject I like and tying them together with a book I’ve not read. You’re going to force me to buy this book, I can already see it coming.

                But that’s interesting. I didn’t know the CSA had similar kinds of loopholes in their conscription laws as did the United States. Peas of a pod, I guess (or a sign of the times).

                p.s. Searching on Amazon for “Keegan Civil War” — the first results I see are “Baseball for Kids”, “Titanic Q&A”, and “Spies, Codebreakers, and Secret Agents.” All young adult titles. Then it grudgingly allows me to see Keegan’s book.

                • I imagine the exemptions became less and less tolerated the closer to 1865 the war rolled on. Keegan’s angle on this is to compare the American way of war at the time of the Civil War to the European all while acknowledging it happened at a distinct turning point in technology and with the added complexity that this wasn’t a European war between nations but the morass of an internal rebellion inside an ordinarily peace-oriented society.

                  • True. Anyone studying the Civil War should have been able to see the potential for a WWI style extended stalemate.

                    Even without machine gun technology or breech loading rifles, it soon became obvious that the defense had reached ascendancy in warfare. The soldiers knew it — I’m sure the soldiers in WWI knew it just as well. The generals were a lot slower to catch on. At least Civil War generals had the excuse of not having any cautionary examples to fall back on. Europe sent observers over here — how could their generals not have learned those lessons?

                    Today in Ukraine, we are seeing just how effective a defense can be when it is conducted by a motivated, moderate to well equipped foe. The U.S. military’s doctrine of training hard and realistically has a bloody vindication in the current war.

                    • Even without machine gun technology or breech loading rifles, it soon became obvious that the defense had reached ascendancy in warfare. The soldiers knew it — I’m sure the soldiers in WWI knew it just as well. The generals were a lot slower to catch on. At least Civil War generals had the excuse of not having any cautionary examples to fall back on. Europe sent observers over here — how could their generals not have learned those lessons?

                      As at 1914, there had been several more, and more recent, examples, that had tended to teach somewhat different lessons. These included:-

                      – The War of the Triple Alliance.

                      – The (Second) Boer War.

                      – The Russo-Japanese War.

                      – Some Balkan Wars.

                      The first two showed the continuing role of open field operations, and the value of arranging for them and to prevail in them (and the Polish war against Russia in the 1920s brought those out again). The last three showed what happened after an otherwise strong defence if defensive resources could be drained. And, in fact, that was what happened to each side in turn in 1918, only the Germans had had so much of their own drained that they couldn’t follow up their gains in March well enough. Clearly, the current matter in the Ukraine has not as yet brought out how relevant these other points are or will be, this time.

                      Isn’t Althouse’s question just precisely what she ought to have asked then and there, if she only then noticed a gap in her knowledge that she felt she should repair?

                      By the way, what is Saturday Night Live?

      • Highly recommend the movie—> Whiplash.
        Excellent poignant movie especially if you have an interest in drumming and both Teller and Simmons are superb.

          • I think War Dogs was a better film and perhaps a example of what awaits those whose Ethics Alarms failed, but I didn’t see the film of him being a drummer with JK Simmons (who I really like, despite shilling for an insurance company); in a leading role.
            I had to look Miles Teller up on IMBd to find out that he was a lead character in War Dogs; maybe I’ll pay more attention to Hollywood stars’ careers, but there’s a sock drawer in chaos that I must tend to before my nap.

    • SNL’s target demographic is roughly 16-25. Viewers outside that demographic are less likely to find the show’s current output funny–it’s not tuned to older generations’ sense of humor. Often, someone who complains SNL “isn’t funny anymore” fondly recalls the time period during which they fell in the show’s target demographic.

      As a person ages, both his own sense of humor and that of the target audience change, and they change in different ways. I find myself laughing less and less at SNL these days, but that probably has more to do with me nearing 40 than it does with the show.

      • I disagree. While humor can certainly be tied to certain ages and may be topical, good humor is timeless. SNL, though, has gotten lazy and predictable. When are they going to mock Biden? Harris? They brought Baldwin in to do is silly Trump impersonation, not because it was such a great impression, but because he loathed Trump and that was all that mattered.

        jvb

  1. Something changed with me or Althouse a couple years or so back. Maybe it had something to do with the pandemic, or lockdowns, or something, as it was around that time that I started to find her whole schtick to be exhausting and insufferable. I don’t know if she ramped up the qualities that had always mildly irked me, or if my tolerance for them fell, but I had to stop reading her blog; I was just getting too irritated by it.

    These occasional check-ins you post, Jack, are a great way for me to confirm that I should still stay away for now, without having to go read her musings for myself.

  2. To be fair I’ve seen the movie (and enjoyed it) and did not know that was the name of the actor. But I would have googled and told myself “oh, that guy!”.

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