In Defense of Tucker Carlson’s Views on China

September 6, 2021 Updated: September 6, 2021

Commentary

On the eve of Sept. 1, Tucker Carlson, the host of “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” did something rather unexpected: he spoke kindly about a “totalitarian” regime for doing “something virtuous.”

Discussing the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) recent crackdown on celebrity culture, Carlson wondered if the U.S. government could ever do the same. It won’t. Nevertheless, according to a piece published by the UK’s Cardiff University, celebrity culture tends to do more harm than good. The authors discuss the ways in which a number of influencers promote risky weight loss supplements. They also discuss the ways in which “celebrities’ actions” result in the adoption of “dangerous habits.” Hip-hop artists, for example, often glamorize drug use, alcohol abuse, and violence in their music. This results in the normalization of bad behavior and bad habits. It’s undeniable that American celebrities—more specifically, American influencers—wield immense power.

Another problem with celebrity culture, the authors warn, is that millions of individuals have become “immersed in it.” The idolization and literal worship of certain celebrities comes with a host of problems, including “anxiety, body image issues and mental health issues.”

The fact that Carlson actually highlighted the dangers of celebrity culture does not make him a China apologist; on the contrary, it makes him an informed commentator.

Additionally, the outspoken host discussed the Chinese regime’s recent crackdown on video gaming. From now on, in mainland China, children under the age of 18 will only be allowed three hours of game time each week. Should similar measures be introduced in the United States? I’ll let you decide.

Epoch Times Photo
People use computers at an internet bar in Beijing in this undated photo. The Chinese regime is mandating censorship software for every computer sold in China. (Liu Jin/AFP/Getty Images)

As psychologist Elizabeth Hartney has noted, video game addiction is a very real problem. Technically referred to as gaming disorder, the World Health Organization recognizes it as a disease involving the compulsive use of video games. No different from other more well-known forms of addiction, gaming disorder has a profoundly negative impact on an individual’s life. American parents are worried, and understandably so. Last year, researchers polled almost 1,000 parents; 86 percent of those surveyed felt that their children spent far too much time gaming. As massively multiplayer online games (MMOs) and role-playing games (RPGs), as well as MMORPGs (a combination of the two), become more popular, we should expect more parents to voice concerns. Video games are not harmful per se, but overconsumption most certainly is.

As authors at The Recovery Village write, MMOs are addictive “because individuals can comfortably interact with numerous people in a collaborative or competitive setting,” all from the comfort of their bedrooms. RPGs, on the other hand, “are addictive in that individuals can role play another life that they may be envious of or desire.” In small amounts, escapism is healthy; however, if one is constantly losing themselves in video games, the only thing they are really escaping from is actual reality.

Although gaming has some benefits for, say, the socially awkward, it is a poor substitute for actual face-to-face interactions. Gaming is intimately linked with social isolation. Not surprisingly, a lack of real life social connections is detrimental to one’s health. There are intimate links between social isolation and obesity and high blood pressure, for example. Even more worryingly, social isolation directly affects people at a neurological level; studies have shown that individuals prone to long bouts of social isolation have brains resembling those of Alzheimer’s patients. The United States’ obsession with gaming was a problem long before COVID-19; the pandemic has only made the problem even worse.

Again, Carlson, acting as an informed commentator, was correct in addressing this very real issue. Furthermore, Carlson’s segment was less China-friendly than some authors would have us believe. Some context—the very thing so often lacking from today’s journalistic pieces—is badly needed. Of all the mainstream political commentators, who has been a more vocal critic of the Chinese regime than the 52-year-old? Very few, if any, I argue. All Carlson did was merely pointing out that the U.S. government could and should do more to protect its own citizens. “When was the last time you heard one of our political leaders even mention video games or housing market speculation or celebrity worship as a problem?” he asked. Again, a perfectly legitimate question to ask.

Now, it is important to note that the Chinese regime did not crackdown on gaming, housing market speculation, or celebrity worship to help their citizens; they cracked down on those three because they pose a threat to Beijing’s vise-like grip over society.

Regarding Carlson’s views, it’s also important to note that he wasn’t necessarily praising the Chinese regime; he was praising the idea of a crackdown on harmful practices that pose a danger to society. The new policies don’t make it any less of a despotic regime.  This fact is not lost on Mr. Carlson. In the United States, with house prices surging, and an increasing number of teens attempting to take their own lives, perhaps more American commentators should be asking the questions that Tucker Carlson is prepared to ask.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

John Mac Ghlionn is a researcher and essayist. His work has been published by the likes of the New York Post, Sydney Morning Herald, Newsweek, National Review, The Spectator US, and other respectable outlets. He is also a psychosocial specialist, with a keen interest in social dysfunction and media manipulation.