At Medium, Frank Swain explains that he turned down an offer to speak at a TEDx event because they don't pay. That's right. Giant famous TED doesn't pay its speakers.
Silverman also joked about adopting a "retarded child who is terminally ill" because she is such an "amazing person." Of course, she is spoofing the way in which we humans (and certain organizations like, um, TED) regularly disguise our egos as altruism, but a lot of radically unfunny and literal folks (see Chris Anderson) could only see her purposefully offensive jokes as being pointlessly offensive.
In the end, I think Silverman was mocking the shit out of TED and the basic philosophical nature (and arrogance) of the TED talk. But, hey, she might have been parodying something that was already parodying itself.
Or perhaps her talk highlighted something more insidious about TED.
At The New Inquiry, Nathan Jurgenson goes after TED hard. And I mean HARD. He accuses TED of becoming "the Urban Outfitters of the ideas world." His most telling point: "...the TED style aligns much more easily to articulating ideas that sell than ideas that concern power, domination, and social inequalities."
Yeah, TED, in celebrating capitalism, doesn't pay its speakers, which is, of course, an ugly and predictable capitalistic practice.
By subverting the shallow formalism and politeness of previous TED talks, Sarah Silverman fucked with power.
She didn't take seriously an organization that takes itself so seriously that it will not tolerate being mocked. And that lack of self-deprecation is a prime feature of fundamentalism.
So is TED a fundamentalist organization?
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