The Vast Right Wing Conspiracy: The Reeducation of Tracy Morgan

June 11, 2011

That chill wind Hollywood liberal Tim Robbins warned about is indeed blowing and every stand-up comic and performance artist should be worried. However, it isn’t coming from some frustrated, prudish Christian right winger. It’s coming from the open minded, diversity embracing, tolerant other side of the aisle. Free speech is just a concept that was rejected at the pitch meeting. Artistic expression isn’t for the less enlightened. Tracy Morgan is now officially under reeducation by the Hollywood left.

In case you missed it, here is the back story: Tracy Morgan, stand-up comic and one of the stars of the NBC hit sit-com “30 Rock” was busted doing a stand-up routine at the Ryman Theater in Nashville. Unlike back when Saint Lenny was being busted the cops didn’t rush the stage and drag Mr. Morgan off. No, a single audience member got offended and reported Mr. Morgan to “the authorities” through Facebook.

The verboten topic was lack of empathy for homosexuality. The “authorities” are the liberal media. A gay man in the audience, Kevin Rogers took offence and wound up on CNN chatting about how horrible the show was.

I wasn’t there and I doubt there is a recording or transcript but from reports the “bit” was pretty raw. What I have read and seen on the internet is that Mr. Morgan was doing a rant where he imagined his son came home and announced he was gay. Mr. Morgan said if that happened he would stab him.

Yeah, I know, it’s not exactly knocking me of my chair either but that’s not the point.  

I have seen Mr. Morgan perform and found a lot of his act to be tasteless. I didn’t find a lot of his material to be funny. I don’t condone bullying or violence against anyone. However I also don’t condone drawing lines for performers or establishing sacred cows. Does anyone think that this was the first Mr. Morgan performed this routine? Doubt it! Now, under pressure from NBC, Tina Fey and uber -hypocrite Alec Baldwin, Mr. Morgan says his rant was “not funny in any context.”  Even though according to one person who attended the show, “No one was booing him. Everyone was laughing…”

Let’s step back and imagine for a minute that instead of the word “gay’ in his routine he had used the word “Republican” or “conservative.”  What if he had said, “… if my son came home and said he was joining the GOP I would stab him!” The audience and liberal media would still be praising his talent. Genius! Let’s further imagine the next day Reince Priebus issued a statement asking for an apology. More howls of laughter and perhaps a statement from Mr. Morgan telling the GOP leader he could plant one where the sun don’t shine. High fives all around!

So why isn’t the outspoken Mr. Morgan telling the GLAAD folks to kiss off? Simple, he’s worried about his job. He’s got plenty of reason to worry.  Isaiah Washington got canned from Grey’s Anatomy after using a gay slur and he did the entire apology tour. The movie “The Dilemma” was roundly criticized for using the dreaded “f’ word.  The “f” word, by the way, is not “fuck.” If you tried to stop comedians from using that word because you find it offensive Hollywood types would brand you a Nazi, fascist or worst some sort of Christian zealot. 

Meanwhile a congressman is sending pictures of his penis around the country and is being defended by Charlie Rangle who is saying “He wasn’t going out with little boys. He wasn’t going into men’s rooms with broad stances.”  That statement sounds offensive and more that a little homophobic to me. GLAAD, where are ya?


The Vast Right Wing Conspiracy : AOL Turns Left

February 12, 2011

I have been a subscriber to AOL since I first bought a laptop computer way back in the dark ages of 1991. That’s right my friends I am the last person in the country who is still paying for AOL! That may end soon.

I even bought stock on in AOL way back before the tech boom of the late 90’s and wish I would have sold out long ago. As an early player in the ISP business I thought AOL could have been a market leader. They have floundered both in their business model and in their content. I kept waiting for them to find their way. It’s my optimistic nature.

AOL announced last week they were buying the Huffington Post. It was announced that Ms. Huffington, one of the greatest political chameleons of all time, would control the content.  This may have surprised a number of analysts but to anyone who has been reading the “news” as provided by AOL over the last two years it was no big deal. Little in their content would change.It would be hard for anyone to imagine the content of AOL could get more left wing than it has been lately. The following three stories are illustrative of the general tone of AOL’s recent content.

Item 1- Sportswriter Kevin Blackstone posted a piece on dumping the National Anthem from sporting events. His logic is that the singing of the Star Spangled Banner is too political! After starting his column with some non-sequitur about the singing of the National Anthem in Congress in 1955 he concludes,

“But if our lawmakers don’t sing it every day to begin the country’s business, spectators of a mere sporting event shouldn’t be forced to sit through it, either, especially during the time we are living through right now.”

It seems that Mr. Blackstone views the celebration of our nation before a large public event as a punishment to be endured. He also feels, I gather from the quote above, that when things are tough in the USA we should ignore it rather than trying to find something all American’s can agree on – we live in an awesome country! If the National Anthem is too political for Mr. Blackstone maybe the flying of the flag should be stopped as well.

http://kevin-blackistone.fanhouse.com/2011/02/08/time-to-turn-off-national-anthem-before-sports-events/6

Item 2- Columnist David Corn pontificates on the sanity and political opinions of conservative icon Glenn Beck. The ultra liberal Mr. Corn, who has written for every far left rag other than the Daily Worker, see Mr. Beck’s opinion that the uprising in Egypt may turn out to be more that a blooming democracy as an insane conspiracy theory. He belittles Mr. Beck’s suspicions of Acorn and the Tides Foundation as more ultra right kookiness. In Mr. Corn’s opinion the uprising in Egypt is a pure democracy movement and to consider it as anything else is unconscionable crazy talk! I only hope our President, who has show his rank amateurism at foreign policy during this crisis, has his staff drawing up some sort of contingency plans if things in Egypt take a turn for the worst.

http://www.politicsdaily.com/2011/02/08/glenn-beck-should-fox-toss-him-out-of-the-coop/ 

Item 3- Why attack just one conservative value or person when you can you can group them into bunches and deride them as a whole? Sharon Fish seem to think all Conservative women are blundering dunderheads who couldn’t hold Mr. Obama’s jacket. They lack refinement in speech and presentation. My solace is that I am old enough to remember another conservative icon that the media and elitists derided as a fool and bumbler a few years back. He was so dangerous to their ideology that even today they are trying to rewrite history to diminish is greatness. He would have been 100 this year.

http://www.politicsdaily.com/2011/01/29/sarah-palin-michele-bachmann-and-sharron-angle-are-they-all-yo/


The Vast Right Wing Conspiracy: Super Ads 2011

February 7, 2011

Before I get started on my review of this year’s Super Bowl commercials I want to come to the aid of a lady in distress. Can we lay off of Christina Aguilera and her muffed line in the National Anthem? Look, she was nervous, under pressure, and out of her element. The NFL asked her to sing fully clothed and without a stripper pole to hang onto! While I’m on the subject of the Nation Anthem why can’t the football players show a little respect when the country is being honored?  Their sideline slouching was shameful! Roger Goodell, get out your paddle and take some of those guys to the woodshed!

Once again the folks who think this is a good way to spend their investors dollars spent slightly more than the gross national product of Niger and Ethiopia combined with, in most cases, very mediocre results. With so many ads it’s hard in a short piece to hit them all so I am skipping all the promos and movie trailers although the CBS/House parody of the 1980 Mean Joe Green was one of my favorites.

I think I have finally figured out that GoDaddy.com is run by a horny fifteen year old boy out of his parents’ basement. What in the world trying to make me think Joan Rivers is hot has to do with getting a domain name is beyond me? Joan is a safe distance from “hot” no matter how many body doubles they used. I don’t know how much money Danica Patrick and Jillian Michaels are paid to debase themselves in what year after years have been the unsexiest and unfunniest ads but it isn’t nearly enough! The ads beg us to go to their website to see the “uncensored” ending to the ads. I wonder how many frustrated high school boys went to Go Daddy thinking they were going to see Ms. Patrick and Ms. Michaels in the buff but only found a lame joke/dance number instead. Can someone tell me the name of Go Daddy’s biggest competitor is because I am moving my domain names!

The Groupon ads with Timothy Hutton and Cuba Gooding Jr. were clever and as a conservative I liked how tweaked liberal causes. This series was among my favorites until I had to explain to my 12 year old boy what a “Brazilian Wax” was after the Elizabeth Hurley ad. Do we really need to be making jokes about crotch waxing during a sports event that is watched by families?

Pepsi Max/Doritos continued their series of homemade ads which this year fell woefully short of the high standard that had been set in previous years. Cans to the groin, spousal abuse and felony assault: hilarious! The finger licker and pants sniffer guy was just creepy and made me wonder how the HR person at this company still has a job. I must admit I did like the “tiny dog through the door” ad and if I were picking the winner “house sitter who revives grandpa” would get the money.

Some brief takes some of the other ads. Eminem doesn’t do commercials but had two on during the super bowl. Anyone convinced the rap star is pimping down Woodward Ave. in his Chrysler 200?  Coke Dragon ad: predictable. Faith Hill Teleflora: Nice “rack” joke, please refer to Elizabeth Hurley comment. Richard Lewis and Roseanne Barr of Snickers: not bad for variations on a theme. Motorola Xoom: Let me see if I have this right; if you have a Xoom you are a rule breaker and unlike all the zombies using that other Smartphone, you know the one who did the original 1984-ish ad years ago. So let’s all run out and get a Xoom so we can all be the different again. Do I have it?

http://www.tuaw.com/2011/02/06/motorola-xoom-ad-inspired-by-apples-classic-1984-ad/

Chevy Truck/Lassie, I chuckled! Bud Light/ Home Improvement: weak. Bud Light/Dogs: weaker! Chatter.com: forgettable. Mercedes Benz/Diddy: Look who we spent too much money to get in our ad! Chevy Cruse/Old Folks: Oops I think you missed a cliché! Career Builders: Monkeys are always funny! E Trade/babies: Apparently as babies get older they lose their sense of humor!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q_UR1t_Kj0w

The cream of the crop for this year were very good! The Bud Light “product placement” ad was an example of taking a joke and running it into the ground until you can’t help but laugh!  When the Bud Light truck comes screaming into the frame I was LMAO! Both Bridgestone Tire ads were clever and well done. The “reply all” ad was my runner-up favorite of the evening. Is there anybody under the age of 90 who hasn’t sent an e mail they wish they could pull back? The other Bridgestone ad had a high cute factor with the beaver repaying the driver who swerved to avoid hitting him.

I liked Kia “Epic Ride” but my overall favorite for the day was the CarMax, “I Feel Like…” ad.  Though both ads followed a series of connected vignettes the quirky similes of the CarMax ad made it my big winner! Agree, disagree or maybe I missed your favorite, let me hear from you!


The Vast Right Wing Conspriacy: Top Gear USA

January 2, 2011

 

There is a long history of cultural exchange between British and American television. Sometime the American results are better than the British versions like Sanford and Son. Some are wildly successful without making major changes like American Idol. Some are carefully adapted taking into account the cultural differences of two countries separated, as Winston Churchill said, by a common language, like Law and Order: UK. Others are humiliating failures because the producers didn’t have a clue what made the original great. All three American versions of “Fawlty Towers” would fall into this category.

Unfortunately for the Americanized version of the long running BBC hit “Top Gear” it is trending into the third category. The show is lacking three elements; originality, chemistry among the hosts, and humor. That’s a shame because it has a lot going for it. The best asset of the show, after the cars, is comedian Adam Ferrara. I will readily admit that I have a bias towards my fellow comics doing well but the problem is that the producers of the show seem to lack the humor gene. In the six episodes I have seen thus far they haven’t let Adam loose. The closest they came was when he got a ticket for speeding on the causeway to Key West.  After watching the rest of the episode I wasn’t sure if this was an actual event or staged for the camera.

More on that in just a few minutes. Let me back up and admit I am a huge fan of the British version or the show. The three “presenters” as they are called in the U.K. seem to have a real friendship and mutual respect for each other even though they constantly “slag” on each other. I realize that relationship has been built over the years but even when I go back and look at older seasons of Top Gear on DVD that chemistry seems to exist. The two other hosts of the American show, Tanner Foust and Rutledge Wood  seem to be a little out of their element as hosts, despite the fact that Mr. Wood has experience as a reporter for NASCAR and Speed Network.  I don’t want to be too negative about Mr. Wood. He has a “good old boy” hominess that I think could work to his and the shows advantage but it seems that the producers haven’t figured that out just yet.  Secondly the British version is anchored by Jeremy Clarkson; though one of the three hosts he obviously the boss and the center of the show.  I believe having a “boss” on screen would help give the American show some definition and Mr. Ferrara would seem to be the natural choice.

The problems of Top Gear USA are greater that the hosting duties. Thus far every “challenge” given to the hosts is a direct rip off from the BBC version. Car vs. skiers, seen it! Boat, car and plane race to a destination, been there. Many of the shots seem way too staged to have been just captured by the roving camera. It the episode where the guys race from Miami to Key West there is a beautiful shot of all three modes of transportation in the same frame as they race South. What are the odds?  This is the scene which called Mr. Ferrara’s traffic citation into question. Call me crazy but I think a realty show should be realistic!

They also use the “Star in A Reasonably Priced Car” segment from the original series. This features a celebrity driving an underpowered car around a European style formula one track.  

This feature of the show could have been easily “Americanized” by using a typical “NASCAR” banked loop track, (Perhaps the producers failed to notice how popular NASCAR has become?).They could have also used a drag strip, the most American form of racing.

Despite its faults I am watching Top Gear USA; it is set on my DVR. I am hoping the show matures and finds its stride because like millions of Americans I love cars! When the host gets behind the wheel of a Bugati-Veyron, McLaren, or some other supercar I will never own I can’t help but thinking how cool that would be. When they take a challenge in a “beater” I can identify with that feeling of hoping my car makes the next exit after driving several of the POS I have owned in my life.  I hope the show runs long enough for them to get so far down the list that I might get invited to take the reasonably priced car around the track because I know I could leave Jay Leno in the dust!


The Vast Right Wing Conspiracy WWSD : What Would Sam Do?

November 24, 2010

 

Following my recent article on the dust up over the use of the word “gay” in a joke in the movie “The Dilemma” I engaged in an e mail discussion with  Big Hollywood editor John Nolte. The question that John posed to me was in the new era “everything is deeply offensive to someone” could guys like Sam Kinison, George Carlin and even Saint Lenny make it today?  Could three of the greatest comic voices ever survive in today’s comic environment?

My first impulse was to say a quick yes, give John a virtual eye roll, and get back to making funny Facebook status updates about the TSA. Then I considered his question a little more deeply. I was too young to have known or seen Lenny Bruce and only got to meet Carlin three times so I didn’t know him well. Sam, that was different. I got to know him pretty well back in the late seventies in Texas. We stayed friends and even worked together a few times through the years. I’ll get back to Sam in a minute.

Lenny Bruce got arrested a number of time for his language. Back in the sixties few people objected to making jokes about ethnic jokes. The word “gay” still meant filled with joy and to most Americans a “fag” was a Lucky Strike. Lenny got in trouble for his scatological references. “Cocksucker” was a big one. Most of the stuff Lenny suffered for seems mild in comparison to today’s cable fodder. However, one of Lenny’s greatest bits, which heavily features the notorious “N” word, couldn’t be broadcast today even on cable. Today it couldn’t even be written in a transcript without serious repercussions. It is however one of the most brilliant bits of comic social commentary ever performed. Dustin Hoffman does it justice in the movie, “Lenny.” Lenny also foreshadowed today’s political correctness in another bit featured in the movie when he substituted the word “blahblah” for “cocksucker.” Quoting Hoffman as Lenny in the movie, “It’s the dirtiest bit I have ever done and they can’t touch me!”

Carlin had his transformation for the slick ex-adman comic the hipster we all know in the late sixties and early seventies. His most famous piece featured the “seven words you can never say on television.” Ironically, all seven are now heard with regularity on television, in movies, on Broadway and in teen conversations. Later in his career the seven words became about seven hundred. I heard him do an extended version of the original which took at least fifteen minutes on stage. If he did the bit today he would have to change the bit to , “ There are only five words you can’t say on TV , “N” word, “F” word, “R” word, “G” word, “  and Islamic Extremists!”

Sam was different. He seemed to invite harassment. Reviews of his show that called him obscene and offensive he wore as a badge of honor. He sometimes sent them out with his press kit! He defied authority at every chance. Once, at The Annex, a small club where we started he smashed a wooden stool on stage during a bit. The club manager told Sam he had to pay for the stool and warned him that he would be charged for future damages!  The next time Sam went up he took the new stool and smashed it against the wall and flipped some money down on the stage. He told the manager to get a few stools because he would need them! As I remember it that event which led to Sam being banned from the club for awhile and the infamous “crucifixion for comedy” incident.

At times I think he wanted people to hate him, it was good for business! He would antagonize those who protested his antics and language. He demeaned women onstage because he knew how it enraged NOW and other feminist groups. They would scream about it and the tickets to Sam’s shows became the hottest around. Some of his most famous bits sent howls of through the gay community even back then. His famous “Rock Hudson” bit where he imitated Mr. Hudson performing numerous acts of filatio and then regretting the last one which Sam imagined gave him AIDS was universally panned by the politically correct even back then. 

If Sam were starting today would he have a chance? You know it! Genius is a hard thing to stifle and Sam was a comic genius. Sam also would have succeeded today because back in the eighties he was already aware that those who presumed to speak for “the masses” were usually out of touch. He never worried about what people thought of him. He spoke his mind and used words he knew his audience would understand. As I am traveling today I am imagining what Sam would have to say about the TSA and enhanced pat downs. I would give just about anything to watch him go through an airport today and “engage” the security. That would be national news.


The Vast Right Wing Conspiracy: The Dilemma’s Dilemma

November 15, 2010

 

The movie “The Dilemma” isn’t going to be released until January but is already generating big press. In case you haven’t heard in an early trailer for the film one of the stars, Vince Vaughn, who plays an auto designer, says,

“Ladies and gentlemen, electric cars are gay. I mean, not ‘homosexual’ gay, but, you know, ‘my parents are chaperoning the dance’ gay.”

Even though Universal withdrew the trailer after protests director Ron Howard say he will keep the line in the film. Now more protests are threatened unless the joke is cut from the movie. This line has sent gay activists into a tizzy and has now made any reference to “gay” in a humorous way the moral equivalent of carrying Mein Kampf into a synagogue. One gay activist is quoted as saying the joke promotes “hate and homophobia.” Ellen DeGeneres and Anderson Cooper say it is a form of bullying. Mr. Cooper of CNN has said, “We’ve got to do something to make those words unacceptable ’cause those words are hurting kids!” Good for you, Andy! I am sure that you will be apologizing to all of the Tea Party activists you giggling called “tea baggers” indirectly calling them “gay” now that you have seen the light.

I am sure the people at GLAAD would have come down on Mr. Cooper and Bill Maher had they realized what they were saying. They were probably just really busy for a year or so and missed that “joke” all over TV and the internet. Thankfully the folks from GLAAD have finally spoken up and are trying to end “gay” jokes! I say “bravo,” it’s about time to end all of this “attack” humor!  

We have to take a stand and stop letting comedy and comedians offend people. Let’s get a whole list of banned words and topics together. Let’s see, we have the granddaddy of all banned word, a word so bad we can’t even print it we can only refer to it as, “the ‘N’ word.” Then we have the “f” word and I have to be honest I don’t know if that is “fag” or “fuck”.  We also have another contender for the “f” word, “fat.” As someone who has struggled with a weight problem all of my life I find any reference to “fat” in jokes offensive! In fact I find those “phat” references offensive too! Would “fag” be any less offensive to gay people if it were spelled “phag?” So let’s knock off the fat jokes. I am sure thin people find jokes about being skinny hurtful as well so they are o-u-t! Short, tall, unattractive, blond and any other reference to any appearance feature must be banned as well.

Then we have the “r” word. We wouldn’t want and actor calling an electric car “retarded” now would we? Jokes about people with or any reference to any type of limited abilities are now forbidden! We also need to be sensitive to how smart people are portrayed so jokes about geeks, nerds and dweebs are banned! As a Southerner and hillbilly let’s put an end to all of those hurtful references to how stupid people are in the south. No more NASCAR or incest jokes. Then too, we will have to agree to stop making jokes about New Yorkers and folks from Jersey. No jokes about California or its “dude” culture. In fact let’s just stop jokes about where people or from or how they behave!

I think it goes without saying that any ethnic reference is gone! Outlawed too is making fun of people’s religion, politics or educational background. No reference in any joke will be made to a person’s economic status. This can be hurtful no matter how much or how little a person has. Did I miss anything? Age? No “Geezer” jokes. Relationships? Off limits! No jokes about anything!   

A long time ago I was doing as TV show and had a joke about Daylight Savings Time and how in Indiana they didn’t observe it. “The days are boring enough without being any longer,” was the punch line. The producer asked me to cut the joke because it might offend someone in Indiana!  I told him that every joke offends somebody and if he could tell me a joke that didn’t I would cut the line without complaint. I got to do the joke.

As a comedian I know two things for sure; there is no such thing as a victimless joke and everything offends somebody. That is the whole point of comedy. Comedy is supposed to make fun of something. Great comedy makes us uneasy and makes us question are assumptions. Paraphrasing Twain, we are supposed to make hamburgers out of someone’s sacred cow. Once we start saying, “You can make fun of everything except…. (Insert your favorite set aside here) or “You can use any language you like except… (Insert any word that could possibly offend anyone here) it isn’t only the end of comedy it’s the end of free speech.


The Vast Right Wing Conspiacy: Patton!

November 10, 2010

November 11th is Veterans Day and I will be doing three things. I am calling my Great Uncle Art today to say thanks for his service. I will also call my older brother to say the same thing. Then I will sit down with my son to watch my favorite war movie, Patton. The film has been called by many who served with one of America’s greatest military men an accurate depiction of the general and of the war.

The opening of the movie, if you have never seen it is one of the finest in cinematic history. George C. Scott stands in front of a huge American flag and delivers a sanitized and edited version of Patton’s speech to the Third Army. Inspiring and angry the original speech was filled with profanities which the film’s producers felt were too harsh for the 70’s American film audiences. By today’s standards it would seem quite mild. The scene shows the power of Scott’s acting talent. Alone on a stage he captivates the audience with the power of his acting and voice.  Other lines from the original speech are used through the movie like when asked where he was going Scott, as Patton, says he is on his way to Berlin to personally, “Shoot that paper hanging son-of-a-bitch.”

Another thing the film shows is that political correctness is not a modern invention. Patton, who never played it safe or minced words, was removed from command for slapping a soldier whom he thought to be a coward. It can be argued that this may have cost American lives. Patton wasn’t one to learn a lesson or be intimidated. Later politically intemperate remarks about continuing his campaign to Moscow landed him in further trouble.

Scott may have been the perfect actor to play the General as he was also mercurial and often unpredictable. He refused the Best Actor Academy Award for his portrayal of General Patton. This was not part of some seventies anti-war or anti-establishment protest. He had earlier refused his nomination for his role in the movie “The Hustler.”  Scoot thought the Academy Awards to be a competition and thought his craft above that.

The movie also was one of the first to show the behind the scenes rivalry between Patton and English General Montgomery and the political divides inside the Allied Forces in World War II.