Posts by Marty Kaplan

How Satire Happens

On May 4, 1970, when 29 Ohio National Guardsmen shot 67 rounds of ammunition at a group of unarmed Kent State University students protesting Richard Nixon’s expansion of the Vietnam War into Cambodia, killing four students and wounding nine others, I was the president of the Harvard Lampoon, the nation’s… More

Sony ‘R’ US

The most shocking thing about the digital disemboweling of Sony Pictures’ computer data is that anyone would actually find it shocking. That goes for everything from the vulnerability of everyone’s personal and proprietary data, not just Sony’s, to the revelation that a sausage-making industry like the movie and TV business is… More

Brands Make Lousy Lovers

What brand doesn’t belong on this list? Amazon, Uber, Yelp, Hillary. It’s a trick question. They all belong. In recent days, they’ve all been making it harder for their fans to love them. I loved Amazon at first sight. Later, when it killed Borders, I forgave it, and called it… More

The Secret of Warren Bennis’s Success

Though the size of Warren Bennis’s obituary in The New York Times was epic – all six columns across, filling most of the space above the fold on the back page of the A section – its text made no mention of something about him I always thought inextricable from… More

Please Manipulate Me

What do you call it when media try to manipulate your feelings without first asking for informed consent? Tuesday. Example: The average Facebook user sees only 20 percent of the 1,500 stories per day that could have shown up in their news feed. The posts you receive are determined by… More

Once Upon a Climate Change

Those who tell the stories rule the world, it’s said, but it’s hard to tell a story unless you know the ending. We don’t yet know the ending of the climate change story. The beginning of the ending, though, happened in Kyoto, Japan in 1997, where delegates from 37 industrialized… More

Mary Poppins Does Not Come Back

I knew better than to expect P.L. Travers to write something sweet in my copy of Mary Poppins, but I didn’t think it would be quite so medicinal. It was 1988, and I’d been a vice president at Disney for two years. From the time I got there, studio president… More

The Obamacare Apocalypse

Last week, a professor of physics and astronomy told the New York Times that the probability of an asteroid hitting the earth —- it happened over Chelyabinsk, Russia, in February, with the energy of 30 Hiroshimas —- isn’t once in a century or two, it’s once in a decade or… More

The Sorrows of CNN: Cable News’s Journalistic Suicide

CNN and MSNBC are giving wall-to-wall coverage to the Trayvon Martin murder trial. Fox News is taking brief breaks from the courtroom to empathize with Darrell Issa and Paula Deen, because George Zimmerman isn’t the only victim around who needs defending, but otherwise the cable news channels are all race-crime-porn… More