Chris Evans launches his political-explainer website, A Starting Point, next month

Karlie Kloss, Josh Kushner at arrivals f...

I’m sure this won’t come as a surprise to Chris Evans’ fans, but this Wired cover story contained a lot of new-to-me information. I truly didn’t know that Chris is about to launch a website called A Starting Point, where he and his two friends ask politicians and experts to explain complicated political issues on camera. A Starting Point launches in February, and the Wired piece is about a lot of things – it’s about how Chris came up with the concept, it’s about his anxiety that no one will give a sh-t, and it’s about whether a site like this would actually do any good. At the beginning of the Wired piece, Evans admits “I sleep, like, an hour a night. I’m in a panic.” He should panic! It sounds like he’s sunk a significant chunk of change (not to mention a lot of time and energy) into a well-meaning project which… probably won’t do much? I don’t know. Here’s an excerpt from the Wired piece, where Evans talks about the origin of A Starting Point.

The concept:
Evans’ pitch went like this: He would build an online platform organized into tidy sections—immigration, health care, education, the economy—each with a series of questions of the kind most Americans can’t succinctly answer themselves. What, exactly, is a tariff? What’s the difference between Medicare and Medicaid? Evans would invite politicians to answer the questions in minute-long videos. He’d conduct the interviews himself, but always from behind the camera. The site would be a place to hear both sides of an issue, to get the TL;DR on WTF was happening in American politics. He called it A Starting Point—a name that sometimes rang with enthusiasm and sometimes sounded like an apology.

If Evans got it right, he believed, this wouldn’t be some small-fry website. He’d be helping “create informed, responsible, and empathetic citizens.” He would “reduce partisanship and promote respectful discourse.” At the very least, he would “get more people involved” in politics. And if the site stank like a rotten tomato? If Evans became a national laughingstock? Well, that’s where the nightmares began.

The start:
The Trump administration had just announced plans to phase out DACA, leaving more than half a million young immigrants in the lurch. (The Supreme Court will likely rule this year on whether terminating the program was lawful.) On the other side of the television, Evans squinted. Wait a minute, he thought. What did that acronym stand for again? And was it a good thing or a bad thing? “It was just something I didn’t understand,” he says.

But watching TV that day, Evans was totally lost. He Googled the acronym and tripped over all the warring headlines. Then he tried Wikipedia, but, well, the entry was thousands of words long. “It’s this never-ending thing, and you’re just like, who is going to read 12 pages on something?” Evans says. “I just wanted a basic understanding, a basic history, and a basic grasp on what the two parties think.” He decided to build the resource he wanted for himself.

Evans brought the idea to his close friend Mark Kassen, an actor and director he’d met working on the 2011 indie film Puncture. Kassen signed on and recruited a third partner, Joe Kiani, the founder and CEO of a medical technology company called Masimo. The three met for lobster rolls in Boston. What the country needed, they decided, was a kind of Schoolhouse Rock for adults—a simple, memorable way to learn the ins and outs of civic life. Evans suggested working with politicians directly. Kiani, who had made some friends on Capitol Hill over the years, thought they’d go for it. Each partner agreed to put up money to get the thing off the ground. (They wouldn’t say how much.) They spent some time Googling similar outlets and figuring out where they fit in, Kassen says.

[From Wired]

Let me just say that I think Chris’s heart is in the right place, and I believe he’s a well-meaning liberal guy who truly wants people to be more engaged and better informed about complicated political issues. But… if Chris Evans couldn’t sort through the Wiki page on DACA, what makes him believe that people will sit down and watch congressmen mansplain the differing points of view on DACA over the course of several videos on A Starting Point? I’m sure some people would prefer to have it explained in a video, or several videos… but it feels like most people won’t have the attention span for THAT either.

Wired is very fair about this – it’s not a cloying, embiggening profile of Captain America saving democracy. Wired talks to various experts in the field of media-political engagement and those experts are like “people might visit the site but it won’t really increase political knowledge, engagement or participation” (I’m paraphrasing).

Knives Out red carpet premiere at TIFF 2019

Photos courtesy of WENN, cover courtesy of Wired.

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21 Responses to “Chris Evans launches his political-explainer website, A Starting Point, next month”

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  1. girl_ninja says:

    I appreciate that he wants folks to be engaged politically and receive the right Facebook.

  2. Valiantly Varnished says:

    He announced this a couple of years ago. I think in 2017/2018.
    At least he’s trying and putting his money where his mouth is. Most people in his position don’t

  3. Faye G says:

    I like this idea, as someone who usually avoid political news because it’s complex and boring. If there was a Cliff’s Notes version of all these terms and acronyms on the website, I might actually pay attention to these things. Kudos to Chris for wanting to inspire people to become more engaged citizens and educated about what’s going on with the government. Still the #1 Chris!

  4. Courtney says:

    I wish he would interview experts who aren’t politicians. Assuming a politician knows the ins and outs of every issue is misguided, IMO.

    • Lightpurple says:

      I suspect the goal is to have commentary from the politicians who are experts on particular issues.

    • rita says:

      I’d hope he’d air several points of view from different sides of the aisle (as we say). Also, when politicians talk, it often turns into a speech, and Chris as interviewer would have to shut that down. Politely. But it should be good PR for him. And good experience.

  5. Lola says:

    I would go to this site. Sometimes it’s good to have a quick idea of a topic before learning more or digging in deeper. I hope the site does well.

  6. Me Again says:

    I see people slamming him for giving conservatives a place to post their views but I don’t get why.
    With these weirdo politicians putting things in their own words, people can see how messed up they are. The politician can’t claim a “misquote” or something “taken out of context”. You said what you said!

  7. lucia says:

    “The site would be a place to hear both sides of an issue”

    This has been my issue with this crap from the start. Remember when Chris Evans was palling around with one-eyed asshole Dan Crenshaw?

  8. Lightpurple says:

    It’s an interesting endeavor and I hope it goes well. I’m sure it also helped that Evans has political connections through his uncle, former Representative Capuano.

    • Eve says:

      I hope it crashes and burns in spectacular fashion. That’s how I feel about his bothsiderism bullsh*t.

      And that f*cking meteor can’t come soon enough.

  9. MeghanNotMarkle says:

    I’ll give it a shot but I’m not holding my breath.

  10. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    Okay. His intentions are true I’m sure. But the problem with politics is that it’s chained, cemented and dropped in the Mariana Trench. Changing minds can be done, but it’s rare, and when it comes to government philosophies, families dig in their heels, turn red with fury and foam at the mouth. Political beliefs experience shifts over time, much time. It’s ridiculously frustrating, but it’s the nature of the beast. It’s been a stage of irrepressible anger since its inception. Some Southern high schools are experiencing their first integrated proms. I can’t even say that out loud without melting. My apologies for unyielding cynicism, but I don’t have faith in Americans.

  11. Avery says:

    i really appreciate what he is trying to do but some issues there are no 2 sides (excuse my grammar) Voting rights are not 2 sided. Abortion rights are not 2 sided. Locking babies up in cages…there is not a right and a wrong side to that argument. I could go on and on. I get it, but we are so polarized right now. We have republicans not accepting reality. The president is a drug addicted mess.

  12. Aggie says:

    Many schools (K-12 and undergrad) and libraries already subscribe to a database/book series called Opposing Viewpoints. I’m a librarian, and this is a classic source that we direct middle/high schoolers and early undergraduates to in the course of research help. It is definitely helpful for people to access, and anything that is high quality and freely accessible online is only a good thing. But it is not a novel idea, and other folks already mentioned the issues inherent in “both-sides”ism.

  13. The Recluse says:

    I give him credit for wanting to help out and make a difference, although I’m not sure how this will work in the long run.

  14. Lola says:

    We will give them brownie points for the initiative. Do think that the platform has to be free.

    Saw someone comment on another platform above (Opposing Viewpoints), but when I googled it, I had to get in touch with a sales rep. or have a password for the New York Library to gain access, that was a bit weird.

    Can’t recall the name, but there is a documentary (among other written material) that critiques the fact that legislators don’ t read Bills before they vote on them, so maybe they should also consider getting other viewpoints (not politicians) on the topics they plan to cover.