Let’s clear the air right now: I am not talking about the entertainingly loudmouth parrot from Aladdin. For one thing, that Iago has some standards. I am referring to the villainous antagonist of Shakespeare’s tragedy Othello, the Moor of Venice. The similarities between everything that Fox News spews unapologetically into the world and Iago’s dastardly strategies to undo Othello’s life are striking.
Let’s face it, there’s been a straight-white-male sized void over at Fox since they were forced to give Bill O’Reilly the boot (and a $20 million payout). Iago is the man for the job. He ruins the lives of about 6 people for no convincing reasons, which may seem like small potatoes in comparison to the “news” corporation, but stick with me.
1. Blatant Racism
Iago: The script of Othello is rife with uncomfortable racial slurs. In the VERY FIRST SCENE, Roderigo refers to Othello as “thick-lips.” I think that paints a pretty good picture of how Renaissance Venice viewed minorities. Iago in particular calls Othello a “devil” and compares him to an animal a bunch of times, such as calling him a “black ram” and a “Barbary horse.”
Iago also goes as far as to say that there is something “rank” and “unnatural” about Desdemona being attracted and married to Othello. You know, cause she’s white and he’s not white. This play is essentially the age old tale of “bad shit happening to a black man because he dares to be with a white woman.” Obviously Iago is sexist as well as racist, but we will get to that later.
Fox News: You have have been disgusted by Iago’s words (or, if you’re white, confused as to why calling someone a horse is really that offensive), but that is nothing in comparison to Sean Hannity. Sean Hannity is one of Fox News’ loudest talking bleached assholes. Sean Hannity regularly welcomes racist guests to his show, such as Ann Coulter and Ted Rundgren. He is an outspoken critic of the Black Lives Matter movement, never once taking the side of any of the dozens of black men killed by cops in the last few years. Need more evidence? Check out out this article. Bottom line: Fox News regularly gives airtime to openly racist commentators without a second thought.
Let’s not forget that 11 employees sued Fox News last year for racial discrimination. The lawsuits boil down to executives doing and saying racist things, and then complaints about these behaviors being openly ignored. If Fox News ran a story about this play, it would be about 8 different pundits talking about how unfair it is that Othello is a general over Iago and how he isn’t fit for the job because he’s not even from Venice. They would omit the part where Othello was “taken by the insolent foe and sold to slavery.”
2. Open Sexism
Iago: The entire basis of his plot is to prove to Othello that Desdemona is cheating on him. So you already know that Iago doesn’t think a whole lot of women. His treatment of his own wife, Emilia, is even worse. He tells her “Zounds, hold your peace!” which is just Shakespearean for “shut the fuck up.” He orders her to go home, and in that same scene calls her a whore. Oh, and then he murders her.
Iago’s treatment of women is backed up by his thoughts on women. He tells us he thinks all Venetian women are untrustworthy. He slut-shames another woman in the play and says “strumpets” just want to cheat and beguile men. He even describes marriage as a hostile takeover of an enemy ship. Sounds like someone didn’t have a positive male role model in his life.
Fox News: Oh, where to even begin? I don’t have the mental and emotional energy to recount all the details of on-air sexism at Fox News, so please enjoy this compilation video from 2015. Keep in mind it is three years old now so there’s definitely a lot more to be added.
3. Manipulation and Lies
Iago: The entire plot of this play is Iago lying and manipulating people to cause chaos and death. Iago is using Roderigo for his money. Iago tricks Cassio into getting drunk and demoted. Iago lies to Othello to the point that he sends him into an EPILEPTIC FIT. As my mother would say, Iago is a shit-disturber.
Fox News: Fox News likes to claim that they are bipartisan. They and some of their viewers claim that they “show both sides.” Meanwhile, every third party organization will tell you that Fox News has a conservative agenda. There is nothing wrong with that, democracy was built on free speech and differing opinions. The problem here is the lies.
Politifact is an organization that fact checks the media. Below is their scorecard for Fox News. While it is all well and good for a media outlet to put their own view out into the world, there must be differentiation between the fact and opinion, especially if they call themselves a news organization. Fox News openly spreads false claims, and when they do report fact, they often serve it with a spin that forwards their own agenda. If anyone has experienced an epileptic fit after watching Fox News, please contact me immediately.
Iago’s most famous line is “I am not what I am.” He means that what he presents to everyone else in the play is not his true self. He hides his motivations from everyone, except the audience. He tell the audience who he hates, why he hates them, and how he plans to destroy them. The difference is that Fox News can’t even give us that much. In an odd way, Iago is too honest for Fox News.
It is important to note that almost every major news organization lies. None of them are completely truthful. My point is merely that Fox News is the biggest, and the worst.
For those of you that are still foggy on the plot of Othello, there are several films you can watch. Laurence Fishburne became the first black man to play Othello in a major motion picture in the 1995 film, OR Laurence Olivier does some cringe-worthy black face in the 1965 film. Dealer’s choice.