Political filtering counter productive

I go to Roger Ebert's website for movie reviews. I get his newsletter for interesting movie trailers. I came to his Facebook page Monday and got disappointment.

It wasn't with Ebert (although we have our disagreements about "The Usual Suspects"). It was with a reader, whose letter to the editor Ebert shared:

"I've been a fan of Roger Ebert over the years, valuing his opinion on entertainment, especially with the high cost of attending movies today. Today that value was trashed when, on his website (rogerebert.com), I was hit in the face with a prominently placed ad for President Obama and his wife, encouraging me to join them. I don't understand why a valued reporter would allow his objectivity to be jeopardized by touting a politician (and Obama IS above all, a politician), as if the qualifications in one area applied to another unrelated field. A man's reputation is built over years, but can be destroyed in an instant. That's what happened in this case. How sad.

"Goodbye, Mr. Ebert."

This is how dorky I am: I walked four blocks to show a friend my new pen, and I've probably shown you the pen if you were in my path during the month of April.

It's a pen I had to order online, as it wasn't available locally. Since I placed my order, I've seen ads for the pen no matter where I go on the Internet. It's not that ESPN.com has formed some office supply advertising union; rather, Internet advertisers have targeted me for things I'd buy.

I tell that story because that's likely what happened here. The reader in question — who instantly notices something involving President Obama — frequently reads political news which, regardless of slant, mentions Obama numerous times. That's a lot more likely than Roger Ebert controlling what ads appear on a site that his employer hosts (FYI, I have no idea what ad is next to this column online).

But the larger issue is why it even matters. I didn't know Ebert's politics when he hilariously used a review of "Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo" to deliver a poignant rebuke of Hollywood's lack of originality and Rob Schneider's inability to take offhand criticism. I now know Ebert's politics, and I'm quite sure we would have agreed on "The Social Network" had he voted Obama or McCain.

Why do politics become our litmus test for how we value an "unrelated field," as the reader says? Is "Curb Your Enthusiasm" less amusing because Larry David's a progressive? Are Chuck Norris' movies less valuable because he's conservative?

It's these types of people who denigrate somebody a "latte liberal" as if a drink determines tax policy. They demand every product they buy and every website they read reflect only their own political beliefs. They argue one entertainer has no place criticizing the president, but cheer when another entertainer criticizes a president in the other political party. And they complain that the world's too politicized.

If Step One is painting it red or blue, and Step Two is ignoring the color you don't like, and there is no Step Three … what kind of life is that?

Goodbye, common sense.

Kevin Wilson is a columnist for Clovis Media Inc. He can be contacted at 763-3431, ext. 313, or by email:

kwilson@cnjonline.com

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