John Oliver’s dick: a tall tale

You have probably already seen some – if not all – of the interview between John Oliver and renowned Government whistle-blower Edward Snowden.

If you haven’t, here’s the youtube clip helpfully embedded:

The whole segment is about 30 minutes long, but skip to the 16 minute mark to see the actual interview.

*Spoiler alert*

Oliver’s angle is that fuck-all people have actually heard of Edward Snowden, and he proves this by showing us some vox-pops of random Americans in Times Square, New York. We all shake our liberal and socially aware heads in disappointment when so many people don’t know who he is, or they think he’s Julian Assange (just an aside, no mention in this piece that Assange is holed up inside an embassy, hiding from sexual assault charges).

So Oliver flies to Moscow where Snowden is holed up (hey people who leak information, why you gotta be so holed up all the time?). We get the tension building will-he-won’t-he over whether or not Snowden shows up, and then there he is!

In an effort to “get through” to those who didn’t know who Snowden was and didn’t take his revelations seriously, Oliver tries to ‘speak their language’.

Instead of dealing with the technical side of the surveillance capabilities the NSA has, Oliver presents his own dick-pic and asks Snowden which of the Government surveillance programmes would be able to collect Oliver’s dick. And all of us liberally minded intellectuals sigh a collective shudder of relief because finally, FINALLY someone is able to explain this serious serious issue in a way that those dumb-ass red-necks can understand. Dick pics.

So lo! did my Facebook Wall light up with the youtube video of the interview. “Look at this!” comments would say “Finally we’ll be able to make people see!” was a similarly common refrain.

Except, well, you haven’t. Because the people that now think that dick pics are the way to get cut through are the same people who watch John Oliver in the first place. This hasn’t created a widespread understanding of the tricky surveillance issues or the Patriot Act. I haven’t seen a skerrick of evidence that this has increased knowledge of Edward Snowden. From what I can tell, it’s got people who already think John Oliver is a liberal powerhouse of intellect to agree that John Oliver is a liberal powerhouse of intellect.

So it remains that the majority of people, the ones who don’t go on Twitter, the ones who don’t watch Campbell Live, the ones who think that Matthew Hooton is the son of the bloke who heard a Who, they are still not clear on this tricky surveillance issue.

That will happen when Mike Hosking talks about it in his ill-informed way. When Rush Limbaugh bemoans the surveillance state we live in. Not when that bloody liberal English guy rants and raves about it.

Basically what this video has achieved is bringing John Oliver’s dick into the surveillance discourse.

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