Tag Archives: infotainment

False equivalence, even in ‘comedy,’ isn’t funny; it is dangerous

Bernie Sanders Reacts to Larry David's 'Saturday Night Live' Impersonation

Larry David admittedly does a pretty good Bernie Sanders impersonation, especially vocally, but I, for one, find corporately sponsored take-downs of Sanders to be chilling because there is a dark agenda of corporate self-preservation behind them. (By “self” I don’t mean to imply that corporations are people. They most certainly are not…)

It’s easy to laugh when a politician whom you despise is spoofed on “Saturday Night Live” or elsewhere. This was the case for me with parodies of Sarah Palin (Tina Fey won an Emmy for that portrayal) and yes, of Billary Clinton (both Amy Poehler and Kate McKinnon have done a pretty good job of portraying Her Highness).

It’s a little more difficult when the politician who’s being lampooned is your favorite, such as, in my case, Bernie Sanders.

Don’t get me wrong; Larry David overall did a great job as Bernie Sanders on last night’s “SNL.” He has Bernie’s voice down pat, and it’s OK, I suppose, for David or anyone else to portray Bernie as a bit of a crank, a curmudgeon (as David did). Long live free speech. (Did you detect my enthusiasm there?)

It’s that, of course, NBC is a mega-corporation, and so of course pro-corporate bias is going to seep even into a “comedy” show like “SNL.”

Larry David’s Bernie Sanders’ opening statement in “SNL’s” mock Democratic Party presidential debate of last night, for instance, includes: “We’re doomed! We need a revolution! Millions of people on the streets! And we’ve got to do something! And we’ve got to do it now!” He then pauses for a moment and then, waving his hand dismissively, declares: “Nah!”

David’s Bernie also declares, in his closing statement, that he’ll end up being Billary’s running mate, which is right in line with the corporate punditry’s “conventional wisdom” that Bernie can’t win. (He can, actually, but, of course, the corporatocrats and the corporate whores who love them will do what they can to ensure that Bernie doesn’t.)

Um, yeah, I don’t know. It’s important for us not to take everything too seriously, or at least to be able to laugh now and then, but the danger, it seems to me, of spoofing Bernie Sanders like this is that it’s meant to negate pretty much his entire message — which is awfully convenient, of course, not only for a corporation like NBC but for the entire elite establishment that benefits from the status quo, which hinges on corporations continuing to drain the life blood of working-class Americans and even destroying the planet itself in the process of profiteering obscenely.

It’s not really funny shit, and to laugh at it as though it were — Hey, if “SNL” is spoofing it, how serious can it be? — serves to enable us to continue to ignore it at our own collective peril.

Not that Bernie Sanders was the only one lampooned last night; the first words spoken by Kate McKinnon’s Billary Clinton in “SNL’s” mock Democratic debate are: “Oh, hello. Thank you for having me. I think you’re really going to like the Hillary Clinton that my team and I have created for this debate.” Ouch. (Because it’s so true.)

But while Billary Clinton indeed keeps rebranding herself like a human weather vane spinning around in a tornado (just very recently she went from being a proud “moderate” to being a “progressive”), Bernie Sanders isn’t a Chicken Little. The problems that he repeatedly talks about — such as climate change and insane income disparity — are severe and persistent, and it’s not difficult to foresee the future if we wave them all off like a joke, like Larry David’s Bernie Sanders does.

Another problem with spoofing presidential candidates and politicians in general is that there so often is the concern of the writers to give the appearance that everyone is being spoofed equally and that all sides of any political debate are presented as being equal. (This is meant to accomplish at least a few things, such as to avoid allegations of bias [probably especially by right-wing nut jobs] and to keep the money flowing [money might not keep on flowing if you have stepped on some toes].)

But that blatantly false equivalence so widely communicated within the corporately owned and controlled media, probably especially in the “news” media, inevitably infects our general discourse to the point that many if not most Americans cannot effectively and accurately analyze politics and politicians. They cannot discriminate between truth and bullshit and they often even (often enthusiastically) support politicians whose political practices harm them while only helping those who already are filthy rich.

The “tea-party” dipshits, whose darling right now apparently is billionaire Donald Trump, are experts at this, experts at being chickens supporting Colonel Sanders (who is not to be confused with Bernie Sanders).

How stupid is it to vote against your own best interests?

But millions of Americans do it every election, such as even with their blind support of Billary Clinton. (Well, Wall Street supports Billary, as it does Jeb! Bush, the Wall Street weasels’ top two beneficiaries, so their support of corporate whores like Clinton and Bush certainly makes selfish and greedy political sense for them, but the vast majority of us voters aren’t Wall Street weasels who will benefit directly from another Bush or Clinton presidency.)

Equal spoofing is bullshit because everything isn’t equal. To assert that it is is its own form of nihilism that, only in our own minds, lets us off of the hook of our duty, as the citizens and denizens of this nation, to ensure that our descendants, that all of the other species of life and the planet itself don’t continue to suffer degradation (or even extinction) in the future because of our selfishness, laziness and greediness in the present.

It’s not just “SNL”; take also 2004’s “Team America: World Police,” for instance. In that movie, which overall is pretty funny (with some truly hilarious scenes) and was a pretty good response to the hyper-jingoism that followed 9/11, the “South Park” creators make leftists from Hollywood (including Alec Baldwin [who played Jim Webb in “SNL’s” mock debate last night], Matt Damon, Sean Penn, Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon) and, of course, left-wing filmmaker Michael Moore, into villains, apparently only or primarily for the purpose of not being accused of taking a political side, of being an equal-opportunity offender.*

But, again, not all political sides are equal. Sarah Palin, for instance, is not the equivalent of even Billary Clinton, and Billary Clinton, while she calls herself a “Democrat” and even “a progressive” (“a progressive who likes to get things done”!), is not the equivalent of Bernie Sanders.

In a nation whose denizens can barely analyze political matters and politicians as it is (if they haven’t already given up the effort entirely for sports, celebrity gossip, consumerism and/or other forms of entertainment and/or distraction) — and who consequently, again, thus routinely actually vote against their own best interests (when/if they vote at all) — this false-equivalence-as-comedy shit just isn’t very fucking funny.

*It’s perfectly OK to take down limousine liberals, who by definition don’t walk their own talk, but that doesn’t seem to have been the “South Park” creators’ main intent with “Team America.”

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The handjob-in-a-Bangkok-bathhouse presidential campaign

But this [presidential] campaign, relatively speaking, will not be fierce or hotly contested. Instead it’ll be disappointing, embarrassing, and over very quickly, like a handjob in a Bangkok bathhouse. And everybody knows it. It’s just impossible to take Mitt Romney seriously as a presidential candidate.

Rolling Stone political writer Matt Taibbi, May 7

It’s difficult to write about this year’s presidential race, since it’s so substance-free.

We all know what Repugnican Tea Party candidates Mittens Romney and Pretty Boy Paul Ryan are all about: the continued radical redistribution of wealth, from the very many to the very few. (Right-wingers oppose the redistribution of wealth only when such redistribution benefits the many instead of the few. Then, it’s “communism” or “socialism” or some other “anti-American” “evil.”) And Team Romney/Ryan are about the Orwellian, Randian relabeling of those of us serfs who produce for our plutocratic overlords as “parasites” when it’s the plutocrats who are the parasites on the rest of us — not vice-versa.

Class warfare, indeed.

And we all know that President Barack Obama, the lesser of the two evils, won’t/wouldn’t do much more in a second term than he has(n’t) done thus far. An Obama re-election, while not the hell that a President Romney would mean for us, would mean four more years! of whatever the hell it is that you could call these past three-plus years.

So devoid of substance is this presidential race that the narcissistic, shallow, cold-blooded Paul Ryan’s workout routine is considered “news,” and so coveted has been a shirtless pic of Ryan that the gossip website TMZ has put a watermark on the Paul Ryan shirtless pic from six years ago that it managed to find and present to the world:

0817_paul_ryan_TMZ_03

Thankfully, in TMZ’s online poll, as I type this sentence, 85 percent of the respondents proclaim that the chicken-legged Ryan’s looks will not influence their vote, while only 15 percent say that Ryan’s looks will/would be a factor in their voting decision, and 58 percent of the respondents say that they would not do the nasty with Ryan, while 42 percent say that they would. Seventy-seven percent claim that they would rather get it on with Ryan Gosling than with Paul Ryan, while only 23 percent choose the surnamed Ryan over the first-named Ryan. And asked whether we’ll ever have a President Paul Ryan, 69 percent say no and only 31 percent say yes.

This is what American politics has been reduced to. Just so you know.

This is the result of decades of “infotainment” and celebrity culture and corporately owned and controlled non-journalism poisoning what we still call our “democracy.”

So watered down and insipid all of it has become that we have Mittens Romney proclaiming the obvious as though it were scandalous.

This past week Mittens proclaimed that President Barack Obama is “running [for re-election] just to hang on to power, and I think he would do anything in his power” to remain in office.

Duh.

Most presidents run for a second term, and Mittens has not been running for president since at least 2008 because he wants power?

Yeah, you know, I think that the vast majority of those who run for president want the power of the presidency. (What they would do with that power, of course, is another matter.)

The very definition of “politics” (the broad definition) is the use of power.

Barack Obama is to be shamed for wanting to retain his power, but we are to believe that Mittens doesn’t want the same power? (Or, at least, are we to believe that Mittens actually would use such power for good?)

And what about former “President” George W. Bush? When he ran for a second, unelected term, didn’t he “just [want] to hang on to power”? Or are only Democratic candidates power-mongers?

Such sheer hypocrisy is what it means to be a wingnut or a Mormon, and in multi-millionaire Mittens we have both.

Mittens this past week also proclaimed that Barack Obama’s re-election campaign is driven by “division and attack and hatred.”

Let’s see: The Mormon cult and the Repugnican Tea Party both believe that women, non-whites, non-heterosexuals, non-“Christo”fascists, non-citizens, non-capitalists, et. al., et. al. should be/should remain second- or third-class citizens, and that only right-wing, “Christo”fascist, white, heterosexual, patriarchal, capitalist males should continue to run the show, but somehow that’s not “division” or “hatred” or an “attack” on those of us — who are the majority of the human beings who inhabit the United States of America — who don’t fit those demographics and who disagree that those with those demographics should continue to have an insanely unfair amount of political power in what is supposed to be a representative democracy.

No, when Mittens’ Mormon cult — and Paul Ryan’s Catholick church — actively supported Proposition Hate here in my home state of California, that was an attack, a personal attack on my equal human and civil rights guaranteed to me by the constitutions of my nation and my state.

That was a divisive attack based — steeped — in hatred.

Women should not be allowed to control their own uteri; same-sex couples should not be allowed to be married; “illegals” should be deported immediately (or, as Joe the Plumber, who is running for the U.S. House of Representatives for Ohio on the Repugnican Tea Party ticket, recently put it, “put a damn fence on the border going with Mexico and start shooting”); the filthy rich should continue to get richer and the rest of us should continue to get poorer; and Hey, let’s start another war in the Middle East! — as John McCainosaurus hilariously sang during the last presidential election cycle, “Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran!”

But the Repugnican Tea Party traitors and the members of the Mormon cult are nice people, you see, because they don’t use profanity or salty language (like that evil Joe Biden!), and they smile lovingly while they propose to destroy you with such euphemistically named plans as Pretty Boy Paul Ryan’s “Path to Prosperity,” which is only a blueprint for the continued prosperity of the richest among us at the continued expense of the rest of us.

It’s difficult for Team Romney/Ryan to talk substance when their only goal is to ensure that the richest and the most powerful among us gain even more wealth and more power while the rest of us lose even more wealth and even more power than we’ve lost since at least Ronald Reagan’s reign in the 1980s. When you are concealing your true aims — because your true aims are patently evil — there isn’t much of substance for you to say. Thus, you are reduced to such hypocritical, ludicrously insubstantial charges as that your political opponent — wait… for… it… — wants power!

Not that Barack Obama has much more to run on. He promised us, incessantly, “hope” and “change.” Instead, he has delivered much of the same, and has been one of our nation’s most mediocre, most disappointing presidents.

But even that, sadly, is head and shoulders above what the Romney/Ryan ticket offers, and that is catastrophic for the United States of America.

As Ted Rall concludes in his latest column,

If all Democratic strategists have to do to attract progressive voters is to frighten them with greater-evil Republicans, when will people who care about the working class, who oppose wars of choice, and whose critique of government is that it isn’t in our lives enough ever see their dreams become party platform planks with some chance of being incorporated into legislation?

In recent elections (c.f. Sarah Palin and some old guy versus Barry), liberals are only voting for Democrats out of terror that things will get even worse.

That’s no way to run a party, or a country.

Well, I, for one progressive, have refused to give President Hopey-Changey (a.k.a. President Lesser of Two Evils) a single fucking red cent for his re-election, and come November 6, I probably will cast my vote for Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein or maybe even Peace and Freedom Party presidential candidate Roseanne Barr.

Throwing away my vote, you say?

No. To vote for the pure, raw evil or to vote for the lesser of the two evils — that would be to throw away my vote.

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