Charlie Rose’s contribution to modern philosophy: I feel, therefore we are.
Today’s 3D Definition: Feeling
Accused of being a sexual predator, television celebrity Charlie Rose appealed to what he claims to have believed were “shared feelings” with his victims. This is how he put it: “I always felt that I was pursuing shared feelings, even though I now realize I was mistaken.” He felt there were feelings.
Here is its 3D definition:
A self-interested supposition about what other people think, often used after the fact to justify behavior other people object to. The expression “shared feelings” refers to the sincere, but not necessarily justified belief that another person is as likely to engage in bad conduct as you are, or, failing that, will at least be willing not to report it in public in deference to your own authority, celebrity or economic power.
Rose continues his explanation: “All of us, including me, are coming to a newer and deeper recognition of the pain caused by conduct in the past.” The rhetorical strategy of self-defense he uses merits analysis. “All of us, including me” seems to suggest that everybody — or at least all men — have done this sort of thing routinely and without thinking. We can recognize that was just the way men were in the past (the past being defined as pre-Harvey Weinstein).
This is obviously not true of all men, or even all men with celebrity and power, but if true, it would seem to be a reasonable excuse. Rose, nevertheless, manages to frame it in a way that avoids it being taken for a lie since its practical meaning can be interpreted as “we are all aware that men will not be able to get away with this kind of behavior any longer.”
The most interesting feature of his statement is Rose’s impersonal use of “conduct,” as if it could be attributed to no one in particular. After being found out, the guilty party usually excuses or at least explains his or her own conduct. Rose simply talks about “the pain caused by conduct in the past,” again making it appear that he is just a member of the crowd, the unlucky one who got caught out.
It has become increasingly clear that, in the history of the modern celebrity class, there is a BW (Before Weinstein) and an AW (After Weinstein). Charlie Rose and others have begun to highlight this moment of cultural shift, wishing to use the distinction to their advantage. Once the public accepts it, they can hope that at least the milder cases will be excused or forgotten.
For example, it could be argued that Senator Al Franken followed the dictates of male celebrity behavior during the BW period and did so as a comedian, long before becoming a senator. Furthermore it was in a professional, not a private context (rehearsal and clowning around, an attribute of his public persona). Will other witnesses, from his post-comedic senatorial past compromise him?
That seems unlikely. But the entire entertainment, media and political class — including the business celebrity class that attends Ted Talks (spreading pheromones as well as ideas) — are currently working on how they will get their thrills AW.
*[In the age of Oscar Wilde and Mark Twain, another American wit, the journalist Ambrose Bierce, produced a series of satirical definitions of commonly used terms, throwing light on their hidden meanings in real discourse. Bierce eventually collected and published them as a book, The Devil’s Dictionary, in 1911. We have shamelessly appropriated his title in the interest of continuing his wholesome pedagogical effort to enlighten generations of readers of the news.]
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.