Comedian and musician Tim Minchin rails against 'pseudo-intellectuals' in bizarre rant

Joanna Taylor
Friday 19 June 2020 08:30
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(Getty)

Australian comic Tim Minchin has accused people who share articles online of virtue signalling in an attempt to "polish" their brand.

In a lengthy Twitter thread last week, Minchin criticised people who share information without a unique interpretation or plan of action to back it up.

Minchin made the valid point that you should "critically assess your intuitive reaction" to new information, or in other words "have some thoughts about your thoughts".

But he then went on to insist that sharing articles often amounts to "virtue signalling" for "likes" and that every writer's articles should be given the benefit of the doubt.

At a time when thousands of people are sharing information and resources online about the Black Lives Matter movement, this isn't exactly helpful. And having a "nice polite argument" against people spreading racism online isn't going to help anyone either.

Minchin then went on to specifically call out "virtue-signaling pseudo-intellectual musicians", indicating he's aware there's some degree of irony to his tweets.

Perhaps he'd be interested to know that Beyoncé has written to Kentucky's attorney general demanding justice for Breonna Taylor, or that Akala is an expert on race, class and privilege?

The term 'virtue signalling' originated among right-wing commentators who took issue with politicians, celebrities and brands publicising liberal campaigns and points of view.

It is a pejorative term, often used to suggest that being vocally left-wing, particularly on social media, reduces the space in which conservatives can freely espouse their views without getting 'cancelled'.

Of course, performative efforts at social justice can be actively harmful: people posting black squares on Instagram threatened to drawn out the Black Lives Matter hashtag, while some influencers attended protests for the photo opportunity.

But sharing left-wing opinions and articles isn't usually done for a pat on the back. And you don't have to have a workable plan of action ready to tackle the issues behind every bit of information you share.

Raising awareness is just the beginning: a first step on the road to stopping your anger from being "ineffectual". But as we have seen with the George Floyd protests that were sparked by people posting on social media, collective expressions of anger at injustice can be incredibly powerful.

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