Larry King is a great interviewer. Lately, he has been talking to increasingly questionable characters. Keeping an open mind, I watched his interview with Dan Bilzerian. [For those who aren’t familiar, Bilzerian has 20 million Instagram followers as of early 2017. He makes his money through poker and spends it in extremely unreserved ways – documenting some of it on Instagram.] At first, the interview seemed surprisingly good.
I am always curious about public personalities – how much of what they say is an act? One would imagine that Bilzerian is either a very calculated act, or not an act at all.
Bilzerian said you need to sign an non-disclosure agreement to walk into his house. Fair enough, he values his privacy – after all he has ridiculous numbers of people in his house all the time. He really surprised me when he said that Trump is raw and unfiltered. Could he, a poker player, really think that? I don’t think so. This casts a shadow not on his intelligence, but on the extent to which he is genuine. Hence, it is now a tougher judgement call to interpret what he says. I’m not sure what Bilzerian stands to gain from this statement about Trump. Perhaps, he would associate himself with Trump as they do have some features in common – but that’s obvious as is. Perhaps, to endear himself to Trump supporters? After all, Bilzerian does have more Insta followers than One Direction. Perhaps, it is that both of them use the same marketing strategy – an appearance of being unreserved and unfiltered – and therefore worthy of trust.
One of the things that attracts me to the writings of N.N. Taleb is that they appear to be quite genuine. He is yet to say something that seems completely contradictory to me.
However, I am increasingly suspicious of public figures. Actors are able to laugh at the same joke during the 10th take and still look like it’s real. I wonder if there’s anyone in the public sphere who the audience can afford to take at their word? Suggestions are very welcome. However, it is also possible that being authentic and being in the public eye aren’t compatible.
There’s an inherent contradiction here: people don’t gain a platform to expose their thoughts, they gain it to accomplish something. Being in the public eye has certain risks attached, so it is unlikely that anyone does it without expecting any benefit.
What if a celebrity already has a platform and then decides to use it for some other purpose? It is hard to separate support of good causes from self-promotion through associating oneself with good causes. At best, we are left with uncertainty.