John Oliver’s frequently-pro-wrestling-referencing HBO news comedy Last Week Tonight enlisted the help of one of the biggest stars in the business on its latest episode.
The “main story” of Last Week Tonight’s July 20 episode dealt with conspiracy theories. It’s an always interesting topic, made relevant by how prevalent they are in age of social media (and Donald Trump), and made urgent by their role in the still-raging COVID-19 pandemic.
Oliver tackles why conspiracy theories are appealing to everyone, how to identify them, and finally how to dissuade friends & family from believing things like “wearing a mask gives you coronavirus”.
For that last one, he points out how studies show that shaming people is not an effective way to get them to think critically or change their minds. Instead, empathetic appeals are your best bet. And Oliver figured getting celebrities to make those appeals would increase their effectiveness. He brought in five people with high Q-ratings (not to be confused with the way too popular Q-based conspiracy theory) to pitch to different audiences.
For your cousin who likes wrestling and Fast & Furious movies (e.g. Orange Cassidy), it’s.... JOHN CENA.
And it’s not just any old John Cena appearance. It’s John Cena slowly removing a surprisingly well-tailored suit as he talks to us about being careful with information we encounter on the internet... and attempting to climb from #3 to #1 on your partner’s free pass list, and enter at #3 on yours.
That’s good stuff. Will Cena’s plea, or the ones from Alex Trebek, Catherine O’Hara, Billy Porter & Paul Rudd, help?
I don’t know. Let’s show them to AJ Styles and find out.