Is Anderson Cooper the Next Norman Mailer?

Question: Who is carrying\r\non your father's legacy?


John Buffalo Mailer:\r\nThere’s several people out there who I feel are doing their part in that\r\nway.  I would say the only one\r\nperson I know of who kind of combines the elements that my father \r\nbrought to\r\nthe table in terms of affecting the public discourse would be Oliver\r\nStone.  His combination of academic\r\nbrilliance and real life experience and just understanding people I \r\nthink is\r\nwhat makes him such a great storyteller, but also he cares.  He is interested.  He meets \r\nsomebody and he listens to\r\nthem.  He has some questions.  He\r\n wants to know what they’re about. And\r\nas a result I think his worldview is much more complex and whole and \r\nmost of\r\nthe other…  I don’t know if we even\r\nhave a category of public intellectual anymore, but he would be in that\r\ncategory.  He would be out\r\nthere.  The reason…  One of \r\nthe things that sets him apart\r\nthough is he is commercial.  He is\r\nmainstream.  He makes big movies and he is one of the last guys that can make big movies that actually have something to say, that you know challenge the audience in a way while entertaining them.

But there's, you know, there's a lot of people out there who are doing it.  I don’t know if it’s possible for anyone to really have that level of a voice anymore because our media is so diluted and parsed out.  You know\r\npeople kind of go for the news and information that they want as opposed\r\n to\r\npicking up a paper and seeing what catches their eye.  It’s\r\n a very stark difference and you know it’s there is a\r\nfew stories that end up going wide and everybody hears about them, but \r\nthey’re\r\nusually salacious celebrity stuff that is not about substance or it’s \r\nthe\r\nlatest disaster and it’s kind of covered in a way that is just trying to\r\n get\r\neyeballs on the screen.  It’s not,\r\nyou know.  I mean I think that\r\nAnderson Cooper does a great job of staying with stories and pushing \r\nthem.  New Orleans he really…  He\r\n was there and he pushed it past the\r\npoint where his producers were saying, “Listen, you've got to stop because \r\npeople\r\nare tuning out now. We’re on to another disaster.”  You\r\nknow, what do you worry about? Haiti? Chile? Turkey?  What?  You know,\r\nwhere do you put your attention and your focus?  So\r\n for one person to really be able to cover all that ground\r\nwould be tough.  Also I think that,\r\nyou know, you have experts in fields who spend their life studying one\r\nthing.  When an event goes on like\r\nthat chances are they’re going to want that specific expert who has done\r\n it to\r\nbe on the show talking about it, not a writer or an artist of any sort, \r\nwhich I\r\nthink is a mistake because you know we don’t have…  I\r\n mean we have them, but there is certainly not you know in\r\nstrong force public philosophers anymore. \r\nThe only way you’re going to get that kind of metaphorical larger\r\n take\r\non what is actually happening and what it means to us and what it’s \r\ngoing to\r\nmean in a few years is to talk to people whose job it is to take life \r\nand turn\r\nit into stories and create it and frame it.  So \r\nit’s a tough role to fill.  I think that one of the \r\nthings that my dad was grappling\r\nwith towards the end was how that shift had happened now and he would go\r\n on a\r\nbook tour and do his shows and it would be you know fulfilling and good,\r\n but he\r\nwouldn’t have the same impact that he used to and it wasn’t because \r\npeople were\r\nless interested.  It’s just because\r\npeople are distracted by the million different sources of entertainment \r\nand\r\ninformation in front of them at any given time.

Recorded March 30, 2010
Interviewed by Austin Allen

Oliver Stone is our culture's best at combining storytelling with social awareness, says John Buffalo Mailer. But others also carry his father's torch.

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