I love beef. And while I do not get to eat beef as much as I would like, I am not talking here about the kind that comes from mostly placid hooved ruminants, but rather the sort of beef that happens when two people or organizations do not like each other. It is perhaps no surprise that over the course of my own life I have participated in a fair amount of personal beef–this blog was even the result of a particularly beef-filled time of my life, but even when I am not personally involved I still am fascinated by beef to a degree that is striking and perhaps not even entirely good. Be that as it may, I think it is worthwhile to admit truths about oneself even where they are not good, since I view accuracy of self-knowledge to be more important than bolstering my own pride or ego or vanity. With that said, I would like to talk about the interest I have in beefs in a way that demonstrates this as being a characteristic quality of our particular time.
One of the YouTube shows I watch regularly is one called Beef History, where a few sports commentators look at the history of how two athletics figures failed to get along from the origins of their conflict to the course of that conflict, to efforts at squashing it and getting along nicely with each other once again, or not. There is something immensely appealing, as well as as fascinating and odd, about how grown men (usually, although there have been beefs between female athletes covered as well) decide for one reason or another that they do not like someone and then behave in a rather silly and immature way to express that dislike and then, sometimes more than a decade later, realize it was a stupid idea and reach out and apologize about what kind of jerks they were and the time and effort that was wasted in hostility with someone who is actually not a bad fellow after all. At least that is how these things usually work, as one realizes that rivalries and the poisonous nature of contemporary journalism tends to pit people against each other who are really not so different or so terrible after all. Mixed in with the humor there is a strong sense of pathos, as we realize how easy it is for us to be pitted against others for the amusement and benefit of others.
A couple of years ago or so I remember listening to a short EP that was released by Wendy’s called “We Beefin .” Although a great many people tore into the project as being a terrible example of how corporate strategy was harming the integrity of the rap game, I thought the EP was generally pretty hilarious. The anonymous (at least to me) rapper on the project spit some good rhymes and delivered some pretty sharp and humorous jabs at the rival burger companies like, especially, McDonald’s, as well as a few others as well. I happen to enjoy seeing companies show a bit of combativity when it comes to other firms in their field. All too often one worries about companies behaving in a cartel-like fashion as they are a bit too chummy with each other, and it is nice to see some genuine competitive behavior existing between firms that are competing over the same market. And it should not surprise anyone that Wendy’s would be the firm to have the most fierce advertising towards a rival, as it has been doing this sort of advertising for decades, going back at least to the “Where’s The Beef” advertisements of the 1980’s that demonstrated one got more beef from Wendy’s than from competing brands of fast food offerings. Even if my tastes in protein lean far more to chicken than beef, I like seeing a restaurant market itself competitively through the use of rap music, or any other kind of music for that matter.
Recently, I have been greatly amused by the beef that exists between the Babylon Bee, a Calvinist satire operation, and Snopes. In the past, Snopes had gotten a lot of good will for their efforts in fact-checking various news sources but they have recently forfeited a lot of that goodwill by targeting conservative efforts of various kinds as being fake news without doing the same to those on the left. And for some reason, they appear not to like the Babylon Bee at all, even though the Babylon Bee is itself a rather equal opportunity satirical operation that pokes a great deal of fun at Trump just as easily as it does against equally fertile targets on the left. Although I tend to be somewhat critical of Calvinism myself and was less than entirely impressed with the full-length book that the Babylon Bee published , I generally enjoy the short fake headlines that occasionally brush up painfully against the truth in ways that are biting and incisive. I tend to have a fairly fierce and sharp sense of humor myself, and am certainly not someone who often refrains myself from cutting and humorous wit, and it is a quality I generally appreciate when it is not aimed in my own personal direction. To see Snopes forfeit any reason why I should respect them by continuing to harass an able and fierce satire operation is admittedly something I appreciate a great deal, as it demonstrates all too clearly the fact that this world is full of people who can dish it out but who can’t take it.
I would like to close today where I began, in discussing the beef that began this particular blog almost nine years ago. Recently I was reminded of one of the beefs involved in the beginning of this blog when someone had viewed a particular article of mine from early 2011. I noticed when looking at that blog entry that it had prompted a response from an old acquaintance of mine who had once attended the same congregation with me, and who had started a blog with the express purpose of trolling mine called “Truth Induced Adhesion.” Much to my puzzlement, the blog, which had been re-titled “Adventures In Humility,” had taken down its initial trolling post of my own and did not appear to have any entries on it whatsoever. Whatever beef the person had originally had was removed, likely because my own statements that I had not been involved in any vandalism towards the organization the writer was a part of ended up being true rather than “inconsistent narratives” as he had originally claimed. As a result the whole website had been scrubbed of any articles whatsoever, as the author had apparently realized he didn’t have what it took to be a blogger and that his efforts at trolling were ineffective. Sometimes one can win a beef simply by enduring where others fail.