Chris Evans covers Newsweek to talk both-sideism, Gen Z & political vitriol

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Chris Evans covers the current issue of Newsweek. It’s a little bit odd, but sure. He’s not on the cover because of his films or his general movie stardom. He’s promoting his political-explainer site, A Starting Point, which is being embiggened by Newsweek as some kind of genius thing to appeal to Generation Z (meaning teens and people in their early 20s). We’ve talked about A Starting Point before and I still think it’s not the best idea or execution. It’s basically just getting politicians to speak on camera for a few minutes about this issue or that issue. Videos for people with short political attention-spans, basically. At best, it’s a chance to see politicians explain complicated political issues without being shouted down, fact-checked or filibustered. At worst, it’s actively engaging in both-sidesism by pretending a–holes like Ted Cruz and Dan Crenshaw are not trying to destroy American democracy from within. Chris has been called out on his enormous privilege for this and other things. But I guess he’s rebranding, with Newsweek’s help. Some highlights:

For a year and a half, Chris Evans has been quietly working the halls of the Capitol, occasionally in person, in an effort to persuade senators and representatives to put aside their hyper-partisan hyperbole and explain, in under two minutes, their views on politics and policy to a new generation of young potential voters.

The two-minute interviews are posted to A Starting Point, an app and website that Evans co-founded with director and actor Mark Kassen and health care entrepreneur and philanthropist Joe Kiani. Politicos talking policy may seem like heavy fare for the TikTok cohort, but the venture has so far defied gravity. It has more than 140,000 Instagram followers and 72,000 followers on Twitter—big numbers for politics-only content, especially given the site’s non-partisan approach. (In spite of the focus on the TikTok generation, A Starting Point isn’t active there, conceding that territory to younger posters.) “I love the idea of getting concise information from the people who are most involved in the political process, in their own words, without any journalistic spin,” says Evans. “This is about understanding who these people in office are, and how they’re voting.”

“When I was a teenager, politics felt like something that was far away from what mattered to me,” says Evans. “Maybe if I had had a chance to listen to powerful voices from someone like a Katie Porter, I’d have been inspired and curious.”

Chris Evans wasn’t thinking about any of that back in 2017 when he used Google to search for an unfamiliar legislative acronym he had heard on the TV news. He doesn’t recall the acronym, but he clearly remembers his frustration in having to wade through search results that failed to deliver a quick, clear answer about the policy issue he was concerned about. “You can find a 30-second video on how to do almost anything,” Evans says. “But where do you go to get a quick breakdown on a political issue, and hear what both sides have to say about it? It felt like a big missing piece to me.”

To provide that piece, Evans recruited Kassen, a friend since working together on the 2011 film Puncture, and Kiani. The three co-founded A Starting Point to fill the gap in here-are-the-issues online information. Since they were aiming at Gen Z, they decided to stick with short videos. To keep the tenor informational—and to avoid vicious, snarky food-fights—the site has no comments or “likes.” “You have these curious young voters who throw in a political comment on a website, and suddenly they’re bombarded with vitriol,” says Evans. “We didn’t want to be part of that nasty landscape.”

Evans was also determined to let both sides have their say. That was a tough decision for him, he admits, given that he himself is an outspoken progressive. “We saw a lot of people in one party really show a shortage of integrity in recent years,” he says. “That makes it hard to put them on the same plane as the other party.”

[From Newsweek]

The thing is, the root of this is genuinely trying to provide a solution to a legitimate problem, which is that people in Generation Z do tend to have major lapses in their education when it comes to how government functions, why public policies exist, what laws really mean, etc. There are profound generational gaps in education on just basic civics and government. But guess what the solution to that problem is? NOT both-sidesing fundamental issues and platforming fascists who are happy to misrepresent their actual political philosophies. Chris tells Newsweek that A Starting Point bans “falsehoods, baseless claims and conspiracy theories,” meaning they allow Republicans to do videos about why they’re against voting rights, but they can’t promote 2020 election conspiracies.

You know what I keep thinking about? The popularity, across the board, of John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight, where he does lengthy explainers on one issue every week. That show is massively popular with Gen Z as well, which shows that they don’t need to be spoonfed TikTok-like two-minute clips about politics. Kids understand nuance, even if there are gaps in their political education. My point is that A Starting Point should have teachers, experts, professors and comedians explaining this sh-t.

U.S. Capitol shut down and members of Congress evacuated as thousands of pro-Trump protestors storm the U.S. Capitol.

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, social media. Cover courtesy of Newsweek.

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29 Responses to “Chris Evans covers Newsweek to talk both-sideism, Gen Z & political vitriol”

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  1. Normades says:

    I dunno. Just my experience but the gen x kids I know are already very politicaly engaged and enlightened. They don’t need Cap to help them.
    Also no thanks. Please don’t give a platform to normalize and humanize snakes like Ted Cruz.

  2. fluffy_bunny says:

    I prefer if he just gave us pictures of him snuggling with his dog.

  3. Jess says:

    The Gen Z kids I know are far more politically educated than my Gen X counterparts or boomers. He needs to be doing these clips for old folks who only know what they see on Fox News. Gen Z doesn’t need another privileged middle aged white guy “educating” them. 🙄

    • Normades says:

      Exactly, like I said above ‘ the kids are alright’. It’s the old Fox News watchers that need to be educated.

    • Jack says:

      Gen X here and I (and my friends and family) are very up to date with what is going on in politics. I’m keeping my Gen Z 18 year old up to date on it. None of her friends are paying attention. They just know what their parents tell them.

  4. Rapunzel says:

    Anything with the Zodiac Killer involved is a hard pass from me. Evans is getting a huge side eye from me as well.

    I’m not opposed to airing both sides. But the right wing today has no side. They just have racism, misogyny, logical fallacies, and flat out lies.

  5. milliemollie says:

    That site is still a thing?!

    • Silver Charm says:

      Barely. This is a big rebrand and targeting Gen Z is a seemingly new strategy. And a poorly executed one at that. How do you target the Tiktok generation WITHOUT GOING ON TIKTOK??? A Starting Point is all 2 minute videos ffs.

      This project is so dumb it makes me angry. Just run for Congress already my god dude.

      • milliemollie says:

        OH GOD NO! No more celebs running for public offices!!!!

        The first time I read about the site, I thought it was a stupid idea and I’m not surprised that it’s still stupid.

  6. MsIam says:

    Well when you have people like Charlie Kirk actively recruiting young people for the far right and then using them to manipulate information on Facebook then I guess this is a step up. But it does seem condescending to young people, my son and daughter are both Gen Z and they are very astute. We talk all the time about the election, capitalism, the lack of healthcare coverage and they mention they discuss this with their friends too. So maybe this is for really young/high school kids?

    • ThatgirlThere says:

      Re: “So maybe this is for really young/high school kids?”
      I can see that. Let’s not forget that the younger millenials didn’t vote in 2016 and we ended up with Dump. Who says that Gen Z won’t become disenfranchised by what they see in the political realm. I think continual reach out is vital.

      • BothSidesNow says:

        Yes, I agree but I despise the idea of having people like Ted Cruz having a platform to place his own spin on why this or that bill is important. The Repugnant’s don’t need a open platform that isn’t asking or hitting them back with falsehoods that they try to spew. This is just a bad idea.

  7. Kari says:

    Does Gen Z actually have a gap in their political knowledge though? That has definitely not been my experience. Most of the young people that I know actually have a far more nuanced understanding of how our political system and government works.

  8. girl_ninja says:

    Yeah, that Ted Cruz photo is unfortunate but he explained that Raphael’s daughter is the one who wanted the pic with Chris. Anyway, I still like Chris he’s a hottie and seems to be really trying to be of service and let’s face it… that is a THICK d*ck 😉

    • Darla says:

      LOL. I like him too, I do think he will eventually go into politics, and I get the point of this website. Whether or not it works, I don’t know. But I’ve seen some really cool interviews on there. Albeit, I don’t watch the ones with Republicans.

      • girl_ninja says:

        I hope he doesn’t. I hope he continues to use his voice to advocate for the less fortunate and a free democracy.

  9. candy says:

    Another white man explaining politics in a way that whitewashes the fundamental problem? No thanks. He just doesn’t do it for me. That, and the fact that he is obviously a republican but knows it isn’t ‘cool’ right now. Instead of hanging his head in shame for supporting a fascist, he’s trying to pretend some of these evil sell outs still have something valuable to say. Spoiler: they don’t.

    • Darla says:

      He is no way a Republican or anything close. That’s just false. Blatantly.

    • milliemollie says:

      Nah, he’s a democrat! Even I know that. He’s called out Trump more than once when he was in office. He did NOT support Trump.

      Pratt is definitely a Republican, but not Evans.

    • girl_ninja says:

      You may be confusing Evans with Pratt. Chris Evans is and has been a staunch democratic. He’s really tried to use his voice to trumpet true social justice and fighting for democracy. Come on, use the internet for the right information now girl 😌

    • MangoAngelesque says:

      How in the world could you say Evans is a Republican/fascist/blah blah? He’s adamantly, angrily, vehemently blasted Republicans in general and Trump specifically for years. Chris Pratt is a religious nut conservative Republican, so maybe you have your Chrises crossed.

    • Katherine says:

      He’s not a Republican and comes from a pretty known Massachusetts Democratic political family. Ayanna Pressley unseated his uncle in Congress. And Mike Capuano was just about as liberal as you could be. So it was essentially an extremely left primary with no real Republican opposition. Evans himself has always personally sounded like standard liberal democrat to me. I do think his goals with this site are a little naive though.

    • candy says:

      I meant what I said and I didn’t confuse him with Chris Pratt. Pandering to the alt right, being photographed with these racist as*holes, and both-sidesing at a time when our country was literally being burned to the ground. I don’t care what his family is or what he says about his politics. His actions speak otherwise, might as well be Joe Manchin as far as I’m concerned. There is NO excuse for both-sidesing fascism. There should be no tolerance for it. Pretending that a ‘lack of civility and informed discourse’ is the reason for the last four years, JUST NO.

  10. Merrie says:

    His uncle was a Congressman for a long time, so I question the story about looking up an acronym; couldn’t he just text his uncle?

    GenZ is was more politically savvy than my generation (X). It’s the boomers who need help. Or child locks on Fox News.

    • FancyPants says:

      That’s what I thought too when he said “maybe if I had a chance to listen to a powerful voice” uhhh dude you had a politician in your own FAMILY. He has always struck me as somebody who uses big words to make himself sound smart (“ten dollar words” as my grandfather would say).

      • Silver Charm says:

        This. He’s definitely gone through some intensive media training the last couple years. He used to kind of step into it, saying some pretty broish and sexist shit. Now he speaks like and gas the mannerisms of a politician. They’re all very practiced talking points.

  11. Lala11_7 says:

    I’m a Gen Xer who got politically aware due to Nixon and the HELL that is the fascist Republican party…my ability to make money or have a viable life depends on who is in my local/state/federal government and I had to learn most of THAT on my own…not from my substandard public education…Ronald Wilson Reagan gave me my crash course on politics when I was 13 years old…and I could give ANY professional political pundit a run for the money regarding geopolitics by the time I was 18…when I look at the numbers of young people NOT voting until they are damn near 30…that tells me everything I need to know….Gen Xers get out AND VOTE…and did that from age 18 on…if Chris can get young folks to ACTIVELY learn about ALL levels of government and to actively participate in EACH & EVERY election…I’m ALL FOR IT! Cause 5 minutes on Twitter will show you that a LOT of folks under the age of 35 TRULY don’t know how the political machine works….like saying that Dems aren’t doing s–t…as of today…there are 23 states that are led by Republicans and only 15 states that are led by Dems…the rest are hybrids…so instead of dragging Dems CONSTANTLY for filth who are doing what they can…how about directing that SAME energy towards the fascist GOP and make sure that we win Senate seats in EACH state that voted for a Dem POTUS …and also learn that Democratic GOVENORS are just as important as Democratic SENATORS when it comes to pushing humane policies

  12. The Recluse says:

    His heart is in the right place, but if he was smart he would shift the focus of his site to reporting on the issues and the current threat to our democracy – to further get the vote out in 22 and 24.