Home Health Please Cease Paying George Santos for Clout

Please Cease Paying George Santos for Clout

Please Cease Paying George Santos for Clout


This vacation season, why not give that particular somebody one thing really timeless: a recording of a disgraced congressman performing in your ironic viewing pleasure. Due to the magic of Cameo, a video platform that permits customers to pay celebrities for customized messages, and the indefatigable American spirit of grift, you’ll be able to fee a 30-second video of the lately expelled Consultant George Santos telling you to “let the haters hate.” It prices $500.

Since becoming a member of Cameo per week in the past, Santos—simply the sixth individual in historical past to be expelled from the Home of Representatives—has reportedly made six figures recording these movies, far outearning his congressional wage. They’re continuously ridiculous. In a single, he may be seen congratulating somebody on popping out as a furry; in one other, he’s singing alongside to Taylor Swift. Senator John Fetterman’s marketing campaign paid Santos for a video to publish to his social-media accounts. The late-night host Jimmy Kimmel launched a collection final week referred to as “Will Santos Say It?” Individuals are lapping all of it up: “Turned out two movies in about 10 minutes in several places with totally different outfits,” reads one overview on Santos’s Cameo web page. “George Santos is the toughest working man in America.”

After all that is occurring. Since profitable his election final 12 months, the 35-year-old former consultant has proved himself to be nothing if not audacious, even comically so. He allegedly used a charity to steal cash supposed for a veteran’s canine, spent marketing campaign funds on OnlyFans subscriptions and Botox, and has lied aggressively about his background and embellished his résumé. (Santos has denied the allegations that he took cash from the canine fundraiser and has additionally denied the misuse of marketing campaign funds; he has, nonetheless, admitted to mendacity about his academic background, his real-estate portfolio, and his employment historical past.) However as a result of he was so clearly inept in his function as a lawmaker—and so evidently disinterested within the job—he feels extra like a clown than an precise risk to democracy. Thus, he has turn out to be a straightforward and cozy goal for parody—together with on Saturday Evening Reside—which has solely elevated his pop-culture presence. The person is in every single place.

Regardless of how foolish or enjoyable the movies seem, they’re additionally gross and miserable. Like Rudy Giuliani’s look on The Masked Singer or Sean Spicer’s activate Dancing With the Stars, Santos’s success on Cameo is one other instance of American politics’ cynical descent right into a spectacle that appears extra involved with large personalities and drama than with efficient governance. That individuals are blissful to shell out a whole bunch of {dollars} for a 30-second video from a politician who’s at the moment going through 23 federal fees (together with identification theft, theft of public funds, cash laundering, and wire fraud) is proof of a normal desensitization towards corruption, supplied it’s entertaining sufficient. (Santos, it ought to be stated, has not been convicted of any crime, and has pleaded not responsible to the fees.)

Maybe most disheartening is the Fetterman instance. From a public-relations standpoint, commissioning a recording from Santos is a brilliant transfer—Fetterman’s publish with the video has greater than 7 million views on X alone. However paying your disgraced former colleague to assist together with your social-media technique has a secondary worth: It makes it more durable to take Fetterman himself critically. Regardless of his workers’s intention, highlighting a Santos clip solely manages to hyperlink the 2 lawmakers collectively in a joint bid for consideration.

Cameos don’t exist in a vacuum. They’re meant to be shared on-line. As NBC Information reported this weekend, on-line influencers are shopping for Santos’s movies to develop their very own accounts. The technique is straightforward: Get Santos to say one thing absurd, publish it to their social feeds, and harvest likes, reposts, and follows. On this sense, Santos is providing a beneficial and all-too-rare web service within the type of premade, zeitgeisty, ready-to-go-viral content material. This proposition has proved irresistible not only for influencers however for politicians who ought to know higher—and for Kimmel, who has spent appreciable time moralizing about politics in his nightly monologues.

Sure, these movies ostensibly exist to make enjoyable of Santos. Fetterman’s workforce probably purchased the Cameo as a result of it was a fast method to make some extent about a difficulty his workplace cares about: corruption within the Senate. Kimmel’s broader level appears to be that politicians like Santos will do something for cash or fame. Virtually each Santos Cameo publish I’ve seen is winking or ironic.

However this isn’t how issues work anymore. The logic of those Cameo purchasers is from a unique period, when shamelessness wasn’t a superpower. That point is lengthy gone, changed by an web the place platforms give an attentional benefit to the people who excel at manufacturing drama or outrage. Whether or not from Donald Trump, Elon Musk, Actual Housewives, or your garden-variety essential character of the day, shamelessness isn’t a highway that results in ostracism. It’s a shortcut to notoriety, nonetheless fleeting. When you’re unwilling to confess defeat, any response on-line is an efficient response.

Essentially the most beneficial useful resource in our tradition is consideration. You can’t manufacture extra of it; you’ll be able to solely compete for the finite quantities that exist, which makes it unfathomably treasured. And it’s not simply politicians who domesticate this consideration, after all. The clamor for consideration has sucked in your entire media ecosystem. Having the ability to appeal to consideration, even for being shameless, deplorable, or unserious, is sort of a cheat code—a surefire method to obtain protection. That newsworthiness then justifies extra consideration. Rinse and repeat.

Pushing again in opposition to this attentional cycle makes me appear to be a depressing scold, I do know. However to take part on this cycle, even sarcastically, is to perpetuate it. Santos’s Cameo reputation displays a tough round logic. As a lawmaker, he embodied an ethical rot in our politics that leaves us feeling powerless. Paying him to bounce for us appears like clawing again a little bit of that energy. However for Santos, the other is definitely true: Although it’s quieter and fewer satisfying, denying him the eye he seeks could be a much more efficient method to exert your energy. With a purpose to push again in opposition to the very system that led Santos right into a place of authority, we have to study to cease giving consideration hijackers what they need. Absolutely the worst-case state of affairs for Santos isn’t mockery—actually, it won’t even be jail time. It’s turning into irrelevant.

Breaking this cycle doesn’t require taking some grand, self-important ethical stand. Withholding consideration is deceptively easy: You simply have to ignore folks performing in unhealthy religion and redirect your focus to … anything! The web is positively teeming with pleasing issues to do.



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