The Essence Of Crankdom

The Essence Of Crankdom

In response to Freddie's very reasonable question of why some people get an easier ride than others from the media for their bad actions, Tom suggested that it's basically the cool factor: Pharrell was in the Blurred Lines video that caused so much furore back in the day, but everyone still kinda thinks of him as cool so he is able to skate while Robin Thicke appears to be a huge dick, so everyone was happy to pile on.

Thinking on this provided me a way in to one of my favourite subjects: cranks. They embody the problem of cool: even if they're absolutely correct, they are so alienating, whether because of general personal dislikability, obsessiveness and monomania, etc. They present themselves and their arguments in such a way that no-one who isn't already bought in will ever listen to them.

They also, amusingly, serve as an example of the other side of the problem Freddie poses. Freddie's question is not a bad one but ask most normal people questions like this and you tend to find their answers to be something along the lines of sure, yeah, whatever man. Cranks—and this might, in fact be the essence of crankdom—are the opposite of this. They believe that rules are real and should really get consistently enforced, believe not only that the universe might but that it should stop for them and their pet issue, and they believe... I don't quite know how to put this one: they believe that arguments convince people.

To be clear, I don't think arguments can never convince people, but I think that your default position should be that they won't, and you're most likely for them to only under fairly specific circumstances. Cranks tend not to be selective enough to choose only these, and instead blast off their arguments scattergun against literally anyone they encounter (I was going to say 'anyone who'll listen' but, well,). I also think, generally, that rules should be consistently enforced, but sadly I just don't have the juice to prosecute every single individual case that they always seem to.

The only effective cranks are ones who lift themselves out of crankhood by virtue of sticking with an issue long enough that they're able to work out a way of making it legible and interesting to people (and usually, when they get some kind of money or media behind them—the Euroskeptics come to mind). Honestly, in a funny way I admire cranks. Most people, myself included, tend to take the world as it is, but they have a remarkable ability to look at it and think not just this should be different but very often I'm not going to let go until it is.

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