Monday, June 15, 2009

The quest for respect

I didn’t comment on the David Letterman-Sarah Palin flap last week because…well….what’s the point? Letterman has been irrelevant since about 1995 when The Tonight Show with Jay Leno surpassed Letterman’s Late Show in the ratings. In fact, Letterman has never really gotten over the fact that NBC chose Leno to succeed Johnny Carson back in 1992.

But in the week since Letterman’s despicable comments about Palin’s 14-year old daughter, as well as saying Palin herself donned a “slutty flight attendant look”, it occurred to me that this is a continuing trend. And I’m not speaking merely of the ad hominem attacks against conservative women, which is certainly nothing new. But it’s the fact that people from other areas of media (i.e. sports, movies, entertainment, etc.) are looking to graduate to the “grown up” table. That is, they salivate over the opportunity to delve into political commentary because that’s what’s hip these days. Sure, Letterman gets paid handsomely to do what he does without injecting politics into his act. But even a dimwit like himself realizes that “Stupid Pet Tricks” and dropping aquariums full of jello from tall buildings garners little more respect than a fart joke.

Take for example movie critic Roger Ebert, a professed liberal. Ebert was ecstatic to be able to review Fahrenheit 9/11 because of its attempts to embarrass the Bush administration. The same could be said for other movie critics reviewing the Oliver Stone “biopic” W. Again, it was an opportunity for insignificant film reviewers to take gratuitous shots at George W. Bush as his Presidency wound down. Heck, said reviewers figured it might even land them a guest spot on Keith Olbermann’s program.

Speaking of Olby, he spent years being an insufferable putz on ESPN, NBC Sports and Fox Sports. Not wanting to degrade himself in the sports world any longer (either that, or his former bosses probably couldn’t stand the guy, thus gassing him), Olbermann jumped on the fast track to becoming a grubby little parasite in the political commentary genre with the MSNBC show Countdown to no ratings. And the quickest route to making a name for himself? Why, savaging President Bush of course. So hyperbolic was Olby in his nightly criticism of Bush (which continues to this day, five months after he left the White House) that he proclaimed the propaganda book of former press secretary Scott McClellan “a primary document of American history.” Political commentators like Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly are also frequent targets of Olby’s incoherent screeds because those two guys possess what he sorely lacks: a vast audience. Since Olbermann can’t even attract more viewers than Greta Van Susteren of Fox News, he has to glom on to media titans like Limbaugh and O’Reilly in an attempt to enhance his standing in the media circles.

But the one area where we could safely assume transcended politics was...ahem...."adult" publications, specifically Playboy magazine. Ah, but a company who vehemently defended it's magazine as "empowering to women" sank to the depths of depravity earlier this month. More specifically a no-name writer on Playboy's web site decided to publish a list of top 10 hated conservative women he'd like to fornicate (click the link if you care to know the vile description of his desired acts). But since writer Guy Cimbalo was a virtual nobody in the world of smut, what better way to make a name for himself?

I understand that skewering of politicians goes back a long way. From mocking Gerald Ford's clumsiness to pointing out Ronald Reagan's advanced age to snickering at Bill Clinton's "wandering eye", goodness knows there was a target rich environment. But the tone in today's political discussion makes it difficult to draw a distinction between poking fun and displaying abject hatred.



Mark Heuring said...

Good post, Brad. There's a real sickness out there and we owe it to ourselves to call a thing what it is.

K-Rod said...

Keith Olbermann?

Nope, never heard of him.
Is that the one that gets tingles in his pants when ever Obama talks?