Always Flatter, Never Challenge, Your Audience

Tell important people what they want to hear and they will reward you for it (AP)

Andrew Ferguson has a pretty entertaining takedown of the remarkably dreadful political cartoonist Herbert Block in this week's issue of the Weekly Standard. Andy was driven to write it by the appearance of a hagiographic documentary heaping praise on the remarkably predictable, utterly boring cartoonist. I just wanted to briefly highlight one paragraph, within which Andy shines a light on the success of "Herblock," as he was known to his sycophants:

It was his politics, mostly, that lifted Herblock above his lack of technical skill to the Pulitzers and the medals and the honorary degrees. His ideas were as simple as his draftsmanship, and perfectly matched to the prejudices of the powerful journalists he hoped to please. The Post reviewer lists his big issues: "fascism, war, the bomb [presumably against], the environment, civil rights, lobbying reform [presumably for]." He didn’t get much more complicated than that. The crudity of his politics and the crudity of his draftsmanship were intimately connected.

The larger point here is a simple one: Flatter an audience of important and powerful people and they will reward you, regardless of your talent. You see this time and again in Hollywood—remember when Crash won best picture at the Oscars?—and Hollywood for Ugly People is no different. Give the people what they want and you're set.