May 31, 2016

Does Simon Cowell see Donald Trump as a reality TV show judge?

The NYT asks a great question:
You basically created the role of the blunt-speaking judge on competition shows. A couple of years after you did it, Donald Trump did it on “The Apprentice” on NBC. When you see him campaigning, do you see a reality TV show judge?
He gives an answer, but it's not quite an answer to the question asked:
People are always drawn to people who speak bluntly. Whether you agree or disagree, you listen. You see the same thing with Bernie Sanders. The guy’s in his early 70s and every teenage kid is listening to him. I think Donald Trump understood when you’re on TV you have a tremendous platform. We all recognized that years ago... I always understood the significance — and still do now — the power of television. Nothing can compete with that.
Cowell is implicitly saying that his work on "American Idol" proved something that Trump either picked up and used or proved for himself. We learned that Americans are drawn to blunt speech. But is Trump campaigning in the persona of reality TV show judge? That was the question.

The answer was more: Blunt speech works — perhaps in many different situations, one of which is reality show judge and another one is running for office. It all happens on TV and TV is powerful, but it blunt speech especially effective on television? Does the effectiveness of blunt speech on television signify that it's entertainment and a person using it should be looked upon as an entertainer?

Another way of looking at this is: Why do some people avoid blunt speech? What's their motivation and can avoidance of bluntness be effective in some other way — a way that works on TV?

This gets my "clear speech" tag — possibly my favorite tag.

52 comments:

eric said...

It comes across as real. When you see Simon speak, or Trump speak, you don't think they are guarding their every word. Just speaking plain.

My daughter just tried out for The Voice. She didn't make it. But she was telling me that the next show she tried out for would be America's Got Talent because she heard Simon would be there.

I said, why him? She said, if Paula gives you a compliment, you don't know if she means it or not because she gives everyone a compliment. But if Simon does it, you feel good because you know it's true.

Constitutional Insurgent said...

Blunt speech is certainly effective and enticing for many people, across various mediums. For those not drawn by blunt speech itself, there needs to be some context and logic behind, or it falls flat. Mere blunt speech is merely bumper sticker catch phrases that have a shelf life of a 30 minute faux-reality show. An enduring and coherent Presidential campaign requires more than that, to assure some chance of success.

Sebastian said...

"We learned that Americans are drawn to blunt speech" Nah. Only the blunt speech they like, and only in some contexts. The rest turns them off, or triggers trigger warnings. Even Sanders pulls his punches. American public speech is less blunt than that in many other countries, and Progs are out to police it even more. Some Americans, a significant minority of GOP voters, are drawn to Trump's attack on the PC police, but it remains to be seen whether they can achieve any change.

buwaya said...

Trump gets a license to speak bluntly that most other people don't, because he is largely independent of other interests that are likely to rein him in - he is a billionaire, and one o the few of those that is answerable only to himself, unlike some others that have shareholders or rely on some government license or contract. Also, he is old enough, I think, to have made all the big deals he cares to make, and is unlikely to lose something by it, such as have a negotiation on a deal go to pot due to publicity problems.
He is one of the few free men who understands how free he is.

Ryan said...

The problem is that blunt speech can be perceived as "mean." Not being blunt is "nice." On TV, mean people are bad and nice people are good.

Richard Dolan said...

"Why do some people avoid blunt speech?"

All the usual reasons: They don't know what they are trying to say, or are too timid (or too crafty) to say it clearly. The craftiness comes in when the speaker thinks ambiguity works for him, or he is spinning a half-truth to do the work of a complete lie, or he wants the listener to think he is saying one thing when, on close parsing, he is saying something else.

The Trump v. Clinton contest will offer a nice controlled experiment about the value of bluntness per se (i.e., without regard to the substance of the matter being said). Clinton is devoted to weaselly formulations -- craftiness in the use of language is her normal operating procedure. She only speaks clearly and bluntly when delivering empty clich├ęs and bromides. Trump is the opposite, but rarely seems to mean what he just said ever so bluntly.

I'm doubtful about the basic thesis that bluntness is always preferable to ambiguity. Bluntness is valued mostly (I suspect, anyway) as a proxy for "straightforward and honest." But there is not much connection between those ideas. A bluntly told lie is just a bit bolder, but is no less a lie.

Oso Negro said...

As a blunt speaker, I can tell you plainly that people do NOT always appreciate it.

buwaya said...

Clinton is terribly constrained in what she says.
She has to keep a lot of powerful people on-board that Trump doesn't.

This was one of Trumps advantages over the Republican field. All the others had to answer to quite a few people that they needed to keep on-board. Trump didn't. This seems also to have permitted him to take popular positions on issues that the others were unable to match.

I am surprised that the powers-that-be, the funders and patrons of the Republican field were the least flexible in reacting to the Trumpian shifting of the issues.

Wilbur said...

There is a time for bluntness and a time for diplomacy. Turn, turn, turn.

dwick said...

So we have the media asking 'great questions' (at least in Althouse's opinion...) the NYT asks whether a TV celebrity whether he sees Donald Trump as a reality TV show judge - and CNN asking if Donald Trump would have killed the gorilla (at the Cincinnati Zoo presumably)

http://www.cnn.com/2016/05/31/politics/donald-trump-gorilla-cincinnati-zoo/

Sometimes I wonder about the virtues of Jefferson's 'free press'...

Achilles said...

Straight talk: "like this sleazeball over here."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g__NPFmz1Z0

Trump has the overwhelming support of Vets. This 1st sgt. explains why. Trump is actually vetting the Vet organizations before he gives them money. Trump actually cares about the results for veterans.

Trump is able to demonstrate that he actually cares for the people he talks to and he attacks the people he sees as enemies. That would be the press, democrats, and yes a lot of republicans.

Trump is not erudite, smooth speaking, or politically literate. He obviously doesn't spend a lot of time talking about politics. But he gets shit done and he is goal oriented. It is clips like this one that show us what his goals are.

His policy positions are clear and he believes in people. If you don't get behind him in an election against Hillary Clinton you are a pathetic loser.

Achilles said...

Sebastian said...

"Some Americans, a significant minority of GOP voters, are drawn to Trump's attack on the PC police, but it remains to be seen whether they can achieve any change."

If you can't join the fight against the PC fascists that try to shut down speech they disagree with through intimidation and public ridicule you are worthless to the concept of freedom.

Sebastian said...

"If you can't join the fight" Wait, what? You talking to me? I was "fighting" when Trump was still a Dem. I'm glad Trump joined. Even clowns have their uses. But: it remains to be seen etc.

Achilles said...

buwaya said...

"I am surprised that the powers-that-be, the funders and patrons of the Republican field were the least flexible in reacting to the Trumpian shifting of the issues."

The republican donors and the democrat donors are the same people. People who donate money to politicians overwhelmingly donate to both parties. There are very few donors who donate for ideology. They donate to gain control and they don't mind controlling republicans AND democrats.

The true opposition to Trump is from the donor class. They are the people who fund NRO. They fund the Weekly Standard. Yes they own the NYT, WAPO, NBC as well. They are Salem Media who owns Hotair, Michael Medved, Dennis Praeger, etc. They all are for open borders and big government in one way or another.

They didn't shift issues because that is not what they wanted. They wanted their Rubio/Hillary campaign. No matter who won they got what they wanted.

anonymous said...

"Why do some people avoid blunt speech?" Easy one. People avoid blunt speech to avoid hurting others' feelings. How are you going to answer if your fat wife asks, "Do I look fat in this dress?"

Achilles said...

Sebastian said...

"If you can't join the fight" Wait, what? You talking to me? I was "fighting" when Trump was still a Dem. I'm glad Trump joined. Even clowns have their uses. But: it remains to be seen etc."

If you are part of the "significant minority of GOP voters" that support Trump in this fight glad to have you on board. It is the vast majority at this point with only a few bitter delusional holdouts.

If you are not supporting Trump at this point even after he has taken on the biggest enemies of freedom this country has then no you aren't really fighting. If you are fighting it is to win. If you are not supporting Trump then you are not trying to help the side of freedom win. He is the leader of this fight and he deserves to be because nobody else stood up to be the champion of this cause. He is the first republican to effectively take these people on since Reagan and Gingrich.

Achilles said...

anonymous said...

"Why do some people avoid blunt speech?" Easy one. People avoid blunt speech to avoid hurting others' feelings. How are you going to answer if your fat wife asks, "Do I look fat in this dress?"

Are you doing your fat wife a favor by lying to her?

Instinctively every person knows the answer is no.

gadfly said...

Does "blunt" speech equate to "insulting" speech?" If so, my parents and my Sunday school teacher would be taken aback. Simple politeness adds immensely to clarity and understanding when humans talk. Nobody likes or respects a bully - ever.

buwaya said...

"How are you going to answer if your fat wife asks, "Do I look fat in this dress?"

Trumps wife/wives aren't fat. So that's another problem he may never have.

C Stanley said...

People mostly like blunt speech when it is directed against someone else, I think.

Achilles said...

gadfly said...

"Does "blunt" speech equate to "insulting" speech?" If so, my parents and my Sunday school teacher would be taken aback. Simple politeness adds immensely to clarity and understanding when humans talk. Nobody likes or respects a bully - ever."

Hmmm...

Wife: "Do I look fat in this dress?"

Husband: "Honey, you look great. What do you think about getting a gym membership and running on the treadmill 3 or 4 times a week?"

I think you solved all of our problems...

Laslo Spatula said...

From Polite to Blunt:

Wee-wee.

Winkie.

Pee-pee.

Man Root.

Dong.

Penis.

Prick.

Dick.

Cock.

Big Black Cock.

Big Angry Black Cock.

Not a complete list, of course.

I am Laslo.

Achilles said...

C Stanley said...

"People mostly like blunt speech when it is directed against someone else, I think."

Some people can handle it and prefer truth. Others can't.

Correlational difference between progressive and conservative to people who yell "bully!" and people who prefer truth? High.

Sebastian said...

"If you are not supporting Trump" It's #NeverNeverTrump for me, if you know what I mean.

Achilles said...

@Laslo

Somehow I thought of

"A veiny triumphant bastard."

"You hit her in the foot with your dick?"

Sorry...

Unknown said...

People avoid blunt speech because people call them bully's, haters, racists, fascists, homophobes or whatever thing they want to have power over you about.

Trump blows it up. For that alone I would crawl over glass to vote for him.

buwaya said...

"Simple politeness adds immensely to clarity and understanding when humans talk. "

Its interesting. I come from a land where avoiding conflict and confrontation is a powerful cultural value. You don't push a point to an obnoxious degree, you don't insult people, you avoid criticism, or negative feedback of any kind, and it is expected that within the group any opinions will conform to the consensus. You avoid bringing bad news. This makes leadership - difficult. This makes improvement - difficult. This makes innovation - difficult. This is my main complaint about my cultural background, it is fundamentally flawed. Getting along trumps getting better. Thats one big reason why I'm not there.

Simple politeness will get you a minimum of friction and keep everyone's tempers even. This is nice, no stress. However it does not "add clarity and understanding". You have to go to extraordinary circumlocutions to correct an error or introduce a new idea, understanding is very difficult if the process of communication has to travel such a complex path. The effect is not to bother. Information does not flow.

This is one reason why foreigners or persons with a foreign cultural background so easily rise to the top there, because they are brash, they don't care, they take social risks (they usually have no social connections to risk) and they buck the system. Its not talent.

And then, eventually, one gets a character like Duterte, who becomes popular, in part, because he turns the whole system of cultural speech controls upside down. People can get sick of politeness.

wild chicken said...

Wasn't bullworth supposed to be a blunt speaker? But I guess Beatty bombed wid dat.

Leora said...

The only concept from my feminist readings that I have found useful is "the demons of nice." Women in particular are afraid to say what they mean for fear of (mostly illusory) consequences. I think most of the rape accusations on campus would disappear if young girls were made to practice saying "No" and "Hell No."

Constitutional Insurgent said...

"Simple politeness adds immensely to clarity and understanding when humans talk."

Quite true; you be be civil and effective, as long as your argument has merit. If it doesn't, then we typically see the speaker reverting to incivility, relying on invective and pejoratives in lieu of logical discourse.

jacksonjay said...

I think I'll stick with the vague on the facts, demeaning nicknames analysis over the people like blunt speech explanation. Actually, I'm not "persuaded" by either approach. Although, I must say the "... blood coming outta wherever..." description of Megan Bimbo had a certain charm.

buwaya said...

" you be be civil and effective, as long as your argument has merit."

From long experience, arguments with merit are the MOST likely to make people uncomfortable or even angry.

Jupiter said...

Politicians learn to avoid blunt speech because it makes their positions clearer than they want them to be. It seems fairly likely that the difference between A, who got 51% of the vote, and B, who got 49%, is that B was a bit clearer.

Michael K said...

The true opposition to Trump is from the donor class. They are the people who fund NRO. They fund the Weekly Standard. Yes they own the NYT, WAPO, NBC as well. They are Salem Media who owns Hotair, Michael Medved, Dennis Praeger, etc. They all are for open borders and big government in one way or another.

They didn't shift issues because that is not what they wanted. They wanted their Rubio/Hillary campaign. No matter who won they got what they wanted.


Beautifully stated. This is what the whole story is and why we are where we are.

Ken B said...

Possibly your favorite tag. Possibly. Ironic.

Bob Ellison said...

Oso Negro said, "As a blunt speaker, I can tell you plainly that people do NOT always appreciate it."

Right.

It sounds nice: let's all be honest all the time. I hate kale! I love ABBA! But the listener's perception is not the same as the speaker's intention.

Constitutional Insurgent said...

Hating kale is pure American. ABBA, I'm not so sure about....

bagoh20 said...

I'm a very blunt speaker. Never trying to offend, but often succeeding anyway. I often have to speak to my 90 employees in attempts to inform and motivate. I did so a few days ago, and it was a disaster. Many took offense when I simply told them an uncomfortable truth. With minimum wage increasing by 50% in CA and upto double what even our domestic competition pays in other states, we simply can no longer survive without demanding that people make themselves more valuable than they have had to in the past. No problem for newer people, but long-time employees took offense feeling they had already earned the right to be paid much higher than new hires, which is true, but the economics don't permit a 50% increase in wages across the board, when my competition pays a fraction of that, but I don't make the rules, in California corrupt Democrats do.

Anyway, it was a steaming pile of a result afterward. Today, I basically had to apologize, and explain in much less blunt language how we can make it work through training and education, and cooperation. I may have been full of shit, or not, but this approach worked wonders in calming the resentment I had created... at the insistence of the California Democratic machine .

If you need people, tell them what they want hear. If you are in politics, you can simply do that over and over, but in business, the people you need have options, so you better deliver.

Achilles said...

@bagoh20

At one of my businesses the employees all found out what the real minimum wage is. We are selling it this week. I imagine if you told them you could make more money by moving 3 hours east to Nevada where there are no income or sales taxes and the minimum wage is much lower they would be unhappy too.

I am looking at taking my capital and energy to a few other places like Colorado or maybe south pacific islands. Taxes are very low in Guam and the weather is nice.

narciso said...

so about that judges decision, does it look impartial now,


http://www.sec.gov/litigation/complaints/comp18115b.htm

it wasn't just his background, but his affiliation with partisan organizations,

Michael K said...

"Taxes are very low in Guam and the weather is nice."

Have you been there ? Many houses are built of reenforced concrete to withstand the typhoons.

narciso said...

oops, wrong link, it is striking how there is no curiousity in the press,



http://sdlrla.com/scholarship/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/La-Raza-Dinnner-Program-2014-FINAL.pdf

as with chisholm, and his affiliation, which shaped his approach at the GAB

Achilles said...

Michael K said...

"Have you been there ? Many houses are built of reenforced concrete to withstand the typhoons."

Yes. My sister in law lives there and has a wedding photo business. She has to do 2 weddings a month to pay bills.

It is 85 degrees when the sun is out. It is 85 degrees when raining. The ocean is about 80 degrees. Food is expensive everywhere but on the military base. If you have a military ID food and other needs are reasonable.

Housing prices are better than Seattle for similar square footage. Rents are inflated thanks to the military bases. Opportunities abound if you want to cater to Japanese tourists.

buwaya puti said...

Bagoh, bad news in private 1 on 1, happy good news in public.

narciso said...

wonder how this will turn out,


http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/facebook-youtube-microsoft-twitter-crack-hate-speech/story?id=39499583

Constitutional Insurgent said...

Guam has the largest Kmart on the planet, but is otherwise known as the trailer park of the Pacific. Nice weather most of the time, and Achilles is correct, the fashion, strip club and bungee slingshot business is a gold mine for catering to the Japanese.

narciso said...

but won't it tip over, like hank johnson, the fact that question was asked of the former top gun, he flew the inverted mig, is still a mark of shame,

buwaya puti said...

Guam is going to be the front line of the next Pacific war.

walter said...

"People are always drawn to people who speak bluntly. Whether you agree or disagree, you listen. You see the same thing with Bernie Sanders. The guy’s in his early 70s and every teenage kid is listening to him. "
Is it his bluntness or his being The Candy Man?

The Cracker Emcee said...

"Trump blows it up. For that alone I would crawl over glass to vote for him."

Truly. After the last 24 years I'd love something, anything, of substance. If Trump can blitz political correctness, that's a statesmanlike accomplishment by any current standard. And a necessary first step in saving this country. Do you think Cruz could do it? Not likely. Rubio? Laughable. Kasich? Doesn't want to so why would he?

narciso said...

probably if the north koreans don't target it first, no doc brown hasn't even figured out how to break up the banks which is his signature issue, I would think it would be a gimme, into commercial and investment branches, they have one across the pond by the name of corbyn,

Guildofcannonballs said...

"You basically created the role of the blunt-speaking judge on competition shows."

Judge Wapner.

Even Dylan knew "justice is a game" here in America. And Wapner was a real Judge judge too. Also his middle name was "blunt" although that referred to certain cigars not speech directly.

I still can't believe I thought Cowell wrote the Welles biographies.

The question isn't What else is mistaken if that be? but instead What the Hell ain't mistaken since that was?