Mr. Ellis is a writer of screenplays. He hobnobs with the rich and famous. He is openly gay and can be caustic and brutally honest, as well. He does not care what people think of him, but rather voices the ideas and opinions he believes in, writes in a way he thinks is true and authentic, and he refuses to yield to those who cry and complain about their “victimhood”, rather than face up to their problems, those that have not grown up or learned to solve them. He doesn’t believe in safe spaces. When he was growing up, not everyone was told they were wonderful, nor did they get participation trophies for showing up. You had to earn your honors and learn to deal with adversity and failure. Ellis said there were not as many suicides since they weren’t surprised by the real world when they faced it; if they failed they got up and tried again. They didn’t expect immediate love and gratification. Homosexuality wasn’t as hot a topic. Black Lives Matters didn’t exist. Alternate lifestyle groups started out with good intentions but then were hijacked by activists with different agendas.
There were no “snowflakes”. Working and earning your place in school, in sports, in industry, everywhere as a matter of fact, was merit based, not based on tender egos that refused to, or were unable to, deal with reality. These weak individuals believed in an alternate reality in which they were guaranteed success. Since failure was not an option, when they failed they could no longer function. These supposed liberal and open minded people who welcomed all, in reality, only welcomed ideas that mirrored their own; they refuse to listen to any of the ideas that disagreed with theirs and claimed they couldn’t deal with the fear it caused them. They required sanctuaries.
Using the rich and famous as examples, some openly gay and some on both sides of the political aisle, he explores the constant outrage that is common today. He examines the presentation of ideas and news by the media, by journalists, by Hollywood bigwigs and by politicians, in the era of Trump. The faux outrage dominates all avenues of society today, and the presentation of ideas is not always accurate or authenticated, sometimes there even seems to be a deliberate intent to deceive. The visible anger is astonishing and palpable, even when it seems very unreasonable and when the cause for it lacks facts and verification. Angry statements are simply accepted and disagreement causes friction between friends and can actually end a friendship or cause the loss of employment. To many, disagreement is unacceptable. They have the one right way and there is no room for any other idea.
Supporting Trump can get you barred or fired so support for him and his accomplishments, which are rarely reported, is often hidden. It can have a very negative influence on business and financial success as boycotts have become de rigueur. The overall outrage is reflected back in the pages of news media, entertainment programs, awards ceremonies, on social media, and in any place a there is a platform where one can earn fifteen minutes more of fame by venting their frustrations. A small group of people has the power to change the way the larger group operates and functions. The needs of the very few are becoming overpowering. Their emotional needs must be met or someone must pay for their pain. Political Correctness is riding high, driven along by its own steam. It is a self perpetuating anger machine.
Because everything is out there to be discussed and judged, there is always someone who is unhappy. Ellis seems to believe that the millennial generation is spoiled, irresponsible and over-reactive. Their backgrounds, helicopter parents, drugs, upbringing, and the belief that their happiness is a priority for the world to fulfill, seems to be indicating a rise in suicides and a shutting down of speech and the free exchange of ideas. Life is hard; it is a struggle, competition is fierce, and one is not rewarded for doing nothing as an adult in the real life. The young today, when they reach adulthood, do not seem to assume the responsibility of an adult. Their age does not determine their ability to think and act responsibly. They were raised to believe they were perfect, brilliant, and naturally successful, and they cannot abide by any other viewpoint. Unfortunately, not everyone is a winner; some will fail, and they will not have learned how to fail because they have not had to face that possibility before. They were brought up to believe that they had to do very little, other than to be present, in order to succeed.
Ellis lays bear the attitude of “victimhood” that is so prevalent today. His language is sometimes crude, but his ideas are lucid. He grew up before the Aids epidemic and therefore was raised with the idea that sex was for pleasure and not something to be feared or vilified. Homosexuality was rarely discussed. In his time, sex education was provided by magazines like Playboy, accidentally discovered in a father’s stash. Cyber bullying did not exist because technology had not yet produced computers, smart phones or sites like Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat. In general, people seemed to express themselves more politely and not as viciously as they do today, hiding behind their anonymity sometimes since their user names do not identify them. This gives them the freedom to stay foolish and hurtful things without retaliation.
Today, the younger people do not understand mischief, comedy or the meaning of an apology. They simply vent their anger, without restraint, on any forum which gives them recognition. They use emotional appeal to prove their point even when their point is obviously without merit. Political parties have discovered the usefulness of that same mechanism and play on fear, shame and humiliation to make a point, rather than on the intellectual presentation of real information. There is no room for criticism or critical thinking. To Ellis, if you can’t cope with your life, you need to see a doctor, not to retire to a “safe room”. Blaming your neurosis on Trump, blaming your old pain on Trump is unrealistic and means you need help. He recommends seeking it. He refers to these victims, and I paraphrase, as “social justice warriors expressing high moral outrage”, often unjustly. He believes they need to see a doctor to solve their problems and should stop running from them and falsely blaming others.
Ellis analyzes the Trump victory and white privilege by highlighting people like Tom Cruise, Basquiat, Meryl Streep and a host of other well-known personages, to make his points. They are referenced and authentic. Liberals have become authoritarian and childish, yet they point their finger at others accusing them of doing what they are doing, sometimes to an even greater degree. They are in denial and cannot accept the results of the last election. Ellis claims no political affiliation, however. He agrees with some ideas and disagrees with some ideas on both the left and the right. He did not vote, however, in the last Presidential election.
Personally, I think this book should be required reading, not for its literary value, but for its honest portrayal of people today. Maybe the loudest mouths will look in the mirror and discover they are shouting out nonsensical, hypocritical ideas and complaints. Maybe they will learn how to listen to diverse opinions instead of demanding diversity while refusing to provide it to others. Somehow, I doubt this will happen. The politicians are self-serving, and this hateful atmosphere serves their needs. Hollywood simply wants to be relevant, in any way, even when their own behavior is antithetical to what they preach to others. The media will not praise a book that critiques them negatively and flies in the face of their ideology, one they are promoting instead of presenting the news and acting like a check and balance on government as “The Fourth Estate” should.