May 1, 2020
John Oliver presents the only interesting story on net neutrality, ever
John Oliver proudly brings you the first story on net neutrality that will actually keep the interest of people who aren’t already net neutrality activists, and for this, Last Week Tonight probably deserves an Emmy. It helps that Oliver starts off by acknowledging that net neutrality is not an exciting, sexy topic, admitting that it’s “even boring by C-SPAN standards” and that he’d “even rather read a book by Thomas Friedman” than sit through a hearing on the topic. Or even sit down with his niece and watch Caillou, “a children’s show about a bald Canadian child who lives a life devoid of any interest.” (For our part, we really hope that TV hosts yelling “Fuck you, Caillou!” becomes a trend.)
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And so, yes: net neutrality—boring but important. And Oliver even manages to keep the funny going. It helps that his staff found footage of a telecom executive rejecting the idea that ending net neutrality would result in a “fast lane and slow lane” for web traffic, instead claiming there’d be “a fast lane for everybody, and a hyperspeed lane for others”. Even on a tech topic, bullshit is bullshit. And it’s kind of cool to see a guy on cable ripping cable companies.
Seriously, this is worth a look, even if stories about packet transfers usually make you yawn. As Oliver notes, the cable companies have stumbled on a basic truth of American political culture: “If you want to do something evil, put it inside something boring.” Oliver even calls on internet trolls to do something useful for a change and contact the FCC, and that is a thing of beauty. Plus, it’s HBO, so there could be boobs in there somewhere.