Archive for June, 2011

RIP “Glenn Beck”

Posted in current events, opinion, politics with tags , , , on June 30, 2011 by Kyle Fleming

Do you really believe that I could, or anybody here at Fox News could, just make things up and remain on the air?… If I get out of control and start leveling baseless charges that can’t be backed up, guess what happens: I’m fired. I lose my job.

After two and a half crazy years, Glenn Beck is off of Fox News. Earlier today, Glenn Beck took a wistful look back on his time on Fox, trying to prove that his going off the air was his choice, and not because he was fired, or because of his nearly 400 lost advertisers thanks to organizations like Media Matters (which made the montage of Beck clips above) and the Stop Beck Campaign.

While I didn’t see the final episode, I certainly heard a lot about it from people on Twitter who were live-Tweeting, and apparently, what a show it was. He spent the whole hour talking about his new venture, GBTV, an Internet TV station where Beck has free reign over what is broadcast, which, given what he was getting away with on Fox, could be anything.

Love him or hate him, you have to admit that Beck is one of the most charismatic TV/radio personalities out there. You may agree with what he says, or you think he’s completely insane, but you can’t help but admire how he gets people talking.

What I like best about the above video, though, is that is apparently illustrates Beck’s tenure on Fox News. At first, he was this charismatic television host that, while he said some pretty controversial things sometimes, was generally fun to watch. By the time he left the network, he was pretty much a misinformation machine, wildly shouting whatever was the first thing that came to his mind. With all of his talk of the approaching “Perfect Storm,” “Spooky Dude” George Soros, or Islamic Fascism and Marxist Socialism, he was essentially reduced to the blabbering idiot you see from about 9:23 on.

While Beck is now off of cable television, there’s still a media empire at his disposal: radio, Internet, books. All of it can be used to say whatever he wants to say, however controversial, confrontational, and just plain wrong it is. Beck has constantly said that he only looks like a buffoon on TV because people take his words out of context, but even in context, it’s hard to believe that people would take the hatred that he spewed seriously. And in some cases, Beck’s word is Gospel truth.

In the spirit of Beck, who has made many a point by playing audio of “their own words” to incriminate them, I refer you to the last few moments of the Media Matters video which includes a quote from the Eric Massa episode (one of the most deliciously awkward episodes I’ve ever witnessed), because I feel it accurately sums up how most of the world felt about the Glenn Beck Program:

America, I’m gonna shoot straight with you: I think I’ve wasted your time, and I apologize for that.

Good-bye, Glenn Beck. Good luck. And good riddance.

Just how much did Beck’s lost advertisers affect the decision to cancel the show? See the numbers here.

Also, check out The 50 Worst Things Glenn Beck Said on Fox News, his top five failed predictions, and how Beck manipulated his audiences time after time.

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The F***ing Problem with Children’s Literature

Posted in opinion, pop culture with tags , , on June 28, 2011 by Kyle Fleming

Earlier this month, a new children’s book by Adam Mansbach was published called “Go the F*** to Sleep.” The book is crass, angry, and hilarious, beautifully illustrating the struggles of putting a child to bed. And when it’s read by Samuel L. Jackson, the hilarity grows ten-fold. The book switches from peaceful depictions of the world settling down for the night to an exasperated parent wondering why his child won’t just, as the title suggests, go to sleep.

Obviously, this isn’t a book to read to your children. If anything, this is less of a “children’s book” than it is a book for adult to read, relate to, and laugh about. Because if you’re a parent, chances are you’ve had these exact same struggles with putting your child to bed, and if the narrative is to be believed, each parent has thought about saying those exact words to their children. Even Samuel L. Jackson admits it in the opening of the audiobook:

“I did say go the f___ to sleep to her a lot. And I think at some point, she would look at me when I would come in the room, and she would look at me and say, ‘Go the f___ to sleep, Daddy?’ And I would say, ‘Yeah, go the f___ to sleep.'”

Yet some people are missing the joke. Karen Spears Zacharias, in an op-ed column for CNN, chastises the violent language present in the book, saying that it could be really damaging and demeaning to children, causing them great psychological harm.

In all honesty, I get it when people miss the joke. There have been numerous times where I’ve said something in jest, only to have to explain the joke later so that I don’t appear like a total jerk. Perfect example: while on a trip to Norway, I commented, “Of all the ferries to take in this country, why do we have to take the fjord one?” which was a play on the name of the ferry company, Fjord1. I then had to explain the pun to nearly half of the group I was with, because they didn’t like how I was complaining about the accommodations.

Regardless, I understand when people miss the joke. What I don’t understand is this quote from the article: “Imagine if this were written about Jews, blacks, Muslims or Latinos.” The quote comes from Dr. David Arredondo, an expert on child development from San Francisco, and in all honestly, he couldn’t have found a slipperier slope than if he had been driving a truck with bald tires and no brakes down the side of a frozen Niagara Falls.

What if the book were written about Jews, blacks, Muslims, or Latinos? I imagine the book would read something like this: Jews, go the f___ to sleep. Black people, go the f___ to sleep. Muslims, go the f___ to sleep. Latinos, go the f___ to sleep.

The point of the book isn’t to be demeaning or demoralizing to kids. It’s a book for the parents. It’s even expressly stated in the blurb on the back of the book: Go the F*** to Sleep is a bedtime book for parents who live in the real world… beautiful, subversive, and pants-wettingly funny–a book for parents new, old, and expectant. You probably should not read it to your children. (Emphasis added)

The reaction to this book would make one think that this is the first children’s book for adults that’s out there. It’s not. The Amazon page for Go the F*** to Sleep leads to several others of its ilk, such as All My Friends are Dead, about “downside of being everything from a clown to a cassette tape to a zombie”; and the Baby Be of Use series, which includes Baby Fix My Car, Baby Do My Banking, and, my personal favorite title, Baby Get Me Some Lovin’.

The point is, this is not a children’s book. This is a parent’s book, a little comic relief from the otherwise stressful job of caring for another being that is totally dependent on you for everything. Normally, I would ask why this book is such a big deal, but then I remember that we live in a culture where if you aren’t offended, you just didn’t understand it, like some sort of subversive hipster culture.

Zacharias uses her outrage at Go the F*** to Sleep to comment on swearing in the household and the decline in children being read to at night, which, while valid points, are so far from the initial point of the outrage that I wonder how she got there.

I hope for her children’s sake, Zacharias didn’t read this book to her children. Because if she did, her children are totally f___ed.

A Lesson in Tact

Posted in current events, pop culture with tags , , , on June 21, 2011 by Kyle Fleming

 

In the early morning hours of June 20, 2011, news broke that “Jackass” star Ryan Dunn had died in a horrifying car accident, losing control of his Porsche at 110 miles per hour, flying 40 feet through the trees before crashing and bursting into flames. They were only able to identify him by his tattoos. He was 34.

There was an outpouring of mourning and support from fans to Dunn’s friends and family almost immediately after the news broke. A few hours after the initial reports, Roger Ebert tweeted the above tweet about the incident, which lead to a near instantaneous reaction from the Twittersphere. Many claimed the tweet was insensitive and ill-timed, a claim that I agree with, to an extent.

In the case of a death of anyone, people who are mourning are often looking for answers and support. I know from the moment I heard the news, I went into “Celebrity Death Obsession Mode,” reading articles and reactions anywhere I could find them. I’m sure the people closest to him were doing the exact same thing. So when something like what Ebert tweeted shows up, friends and family aren’t going to take too kindly to it, a reaction that was personified by Bam Margera, Dunn’s closest friend. In a two-part tweet, Bam said:

I just lost my best friend, I have been crying hysterically for a full day and piece of sh__ roger ebert has the gall to put in his 2 cents [a]bout a jackass drunk driving and his is one, f__k you! Millions of people are crying right now, shut your fat f__king mouth!

The pure sadness and anger that is evident in Bam’s tweets show just how much friends and family were hurting, and with the news so fresh to everyone, trying to impose moral lessons is completely inappropriate. Allow the grieving process to begin first, and then feel free to play Aesop.

Ebert has since defended his tweet, saying that he didn’t mean to call Dunn a “jackass,” but instead was using “Twitter shorthand” to “[refer] to his association with ‘Jackass.'” But all he was doing with his explanation is exacerbate the problem. By saying “this is why I did this” and not apologizing and admitting that, perhaps, he was a bit rash in the tweet, he is only adding fuel to the flames.

The people don’t want an explanation. They want solace.

All day yesterday, I was wondering why the tweet bothered me, and someone pointed it out in the comments of the Ebert post from today:

You’re full of it Roger. If you had been referring to the show Jackass you would have capitalized the J. You spoke from a place of cynicism and hate in a time when a lot of people were looking for answers and support.

That’s exactly it. If the tweet had read, “Friends don’t let Jackasses drink and drive,” the reference to the franchise would have been more obvious.

I believe Roger Ebert is a smart man. He’s a writer, a person who knows how to use words to their maximum impact, and a simple capitalization error–whether it’s really an error or not–caused an enormous uproar. It would be akin to, if someone broke into Ebert’s house and murdered him, someone tweeting, “Two thumbs down for Roger Ebert’s home security system.” It’s tasteless.

If the original tweet had included a positive, specific reference to Ryan Dunn, such as, “Friends don’t let Jackasses drink and drive. Rest in peace, Ryan Dunn,” it would have lessened the blow while still getting the point across. But in the immediate aftermath of such devastating news, maybe it’s not the time to be making a point.

Despite all of this, Ryan Dunn was one of my favorite Jackasses. His humor and love for life will live on with everyone he has encountered, and as far as celebrity deaths go, bursting into flame in his Porsche could not have been a better fit.

The world will miss you, Dunn. “Jackass” will never be the same.