A cursory Google investigation into the life and works of Ben Shapiro reveals a Game of Thrones-style existence. Sixteen consecutive hours rarely pass without Ben Shapiro having been absolutely destroyed, or Ben Shapiro absolutely destroying someone right back.
Where Ben Shapiro leads, absolute destruction surely follows. And on Friday where he went was to a television studio in Los Angeles, to be interviewed down the line by the BBC’s Andrew Neil. And – spoiler alert – what followed was the most spectacular Game of Owns episode yet, of the complete-self variety.
First, some background. If you’ve never heard of Ben Shapiro, he is best understood as the Lindsay Lohan of the right-wing US political commentary scene. The now well established Lindsay Lohan theory dictates that the age at which a person achieves fame is the age at which they stop developing mentally, establishing a spectrum that stretches up to George Clooney (breakthrough – ER, 35, well adjusted), and down to Lohan (breakthrough – The Parent Trap – 12, years in rehab, and once ended an online spat by threatening to switch on the Christmas lights in Kettering).
Below Lohan it reaches a point where light is best left unshone, but it involves building a theme park in your own back garden and your genitals having to be photographed by the Department of Justice.
Ben Shapiro, alas, was 17 when he first started attracting attention for having the kind of opinions you expect of nasty teenage little boys. His first book, Why Privileged Little Boys Like Me Deserve Everything We’ve Been Given (working title) sold several hundred copies, several of which are understood not have been to family members. But Ben Shapiro is 35 now, and seemingly unable to do anything with a general world view that most people manage to leave behind at the high school prom, and which in his case were out of date several decades before he got them.
It also perhaps doesn’t help his cause that Ben Shapiro looks like a minor member of the Addams Family, dressed up for a day in court for having shot up his high school after Tucker Carlson never replied to his fanmail. If Ben Shapiro drove past a friend’s house and saw it was on fire, one suspects he would think about calling them just as soon as he’d finished scrolling through his own notifications. But that is by the by.
Why was the BBC interviewing him at all, many people wanted to know. Even exposing Ben Shapiro’s intellectually paper-thin opinions to actual scrutiny just ends with Ben Shapiro or Ben Shapiro fans editing out what passes as the best bit, and uploading it to YouTube, to add to the ever rising total of Ben Shapiro-oriented Absolute Destruction.
Like most people who Say Shocking Things For Effect, Ben Shapiro did not like having his own words read back to him. As Andrew Neil asked him about a claim that Jews who vote for Barack Obama are “Jews in Name Only” and should “hand their badge in”, this, we learned, was a “gotcha question”. This was Andrew Neil taking things “out of context”. If Ben Shapiro says something stupid for effect, anything but the desired effect is off limits. If Ben Shapiro tries to light a fart and accidentally hospitalises himself, you and I are only allowed to concern ourselves with the smell.
It is a common tactic now, for professional contrarians who, mid-interview, can feel the earth slipping out from under them, to start talking over the questions they are being asked, and start interviewing the interviewer instead. Never has it backfired so spectacularly.
“You are of the left,” he shouted at Mr Neil. “Why don’t you just admit it?”
Andrew Neil, chairman of The Spectator, vocal supporter of Brexit, has faced many accusations from hostile quarters in his life. More often than not, they return to his rather controversial decision, as editor of The Sunday Times, to employ the Holocaust-denying historian David Irving to translate Joseph Goebbels’ diaries. Being told to “admit you are of the left” is certainly a new one.
Alas, there was not time to interrogate Mr Shapiro’s actual opinions in his latest book, which includes much on how “anger” is corroding public discourse, which is rather like the sun publishing a book on the corrosion of snowmen. He could only talk over the questions he was being asked, to announce he was storming off.
As yet, Ben Shapiro destroys Andrew Neil has not yet made it to a YouTube channel anywhere near you. Twenty passable seconds is usually enough. None could be found.
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