Tuesday, December 7, 2010


A few weeks ago I wrote a piece for UGA's research magazine (magazine here, an easier version of my article here) about a pet theory of mine about the difference between what people know and what people think they know.  It's really about easy news and how it can fool you into thinking you're informed when, in fact, you're not.  In the article, I note listening to talk radio has this effect, as does watching Jon Stewart.

Out came the kooks.

Keep in mind the kooks missed my Stewart reference (he's liberal) and focused instead on talk radio (it's conservative). I got some nutty emails, and some nice ones.  This week I received an envelope.  It has kook written all over it.  See below.

In a moment of daring, I open the thing.  Sure enough, inside I find this yellow sheet of paper, a blue-ink hand-scrawled message that reminds me of the Unabomber, except it opens with:

Professor Holland

Already a bad start, eh?  This fan can't even get my friggin name right, losing him or her the chance to serve as president of the Arizona chapter of the Barry Hollander Fan Club.  Maybe this explains why this former UGA person has a degree in business administration, not journalism.

Other than being name-challenged, my new fan apparently hates the MSNBC talking heads.  "Rubber face Rachel Maddow," is one description.  As readers here know, I'm no fan of talking heads on any TV network, but "rubber face?" I don't even know what the hell that means. 

Oh, and my new fan recommends journalism students should read two books by Rush Limbaugh and two books by Ann Coulter.  Never mind neither are journalists (they'd have to take pay cuts), and neither can say much about journalism itself since they've never done any, or really have anything sensible to offer on the subject (I know, I listen to Limbaugh all the time, and hear Coulter on Sean Hannity's radio show).  Here's another gem: "Obama is Muslim." Of course he is.  That explains his controversial Chicago Christian preacher from the 2008 election.  And another: all journalism departments are "left wing."  I like to think of myself as a radical moderate.  I hate everyone, equally.  Well, except my fans.  They're special.

Oh, finally, my favorite is, in discussing one of my published studies about talk radio and how some people learn from such programs while others only think they learn:
"Was that a survey?  When I was at Georgia, we were not allowed to do surveys."

WTF?  Maybe in the 1700s surveys weren't allowed at Georgia -- probably because they didn't exist.  Or perhaps they didn't allow you to do surveys.  Or maybe it's a business administration thing.  I'll have to call the Terry College and ask.

And finally, I leave you with this line:  "Jon Stewart and Barack Obama hate America." 

What it lacks in originality, it makes up for in poor penmanship.

I love my fans.  Even the kooky ones.

1 comment:

Nick said...

First, I enjoyed your original article; I cite similar research when teaching my Media, Culture & Society class.

Also, excellent fan base. And Handwritten? I assume UGA didn't have computers or typewriters when he was there either. You'd think he'd at least brush up on his penmanship if he wants to be a technological laggard.