(Images courtesy of Ruthless Reviews...)
Fairly brilliant bit on Colbert last night about cable news' fastest rising star or most rapidly plummeting meteor, Glenn Beck. Beck's weepy, guano saturated antics on Fox have tapped into an apparently 2.3 million deep cultural vein of paranoid shut-ins plotting revenge against a vaguely defined "them." What separates Beck from the herd of other right-wing pundits and professional reactionaries, is that while others pound their fists and struggle manfully against their cultural and political enemies, Beck's baby-face Bircher routine is punctuated by goofy props, and when he's not choking back tears, an "Aw-Shucks" look of pleasant befuddlement as he wonders aloud why we haven't put every Muslim in America "behind razor-wire" or when the Mexican army will invade the United States. Beck has pioneered an entirely new genre: Right-Wing Emo. If Dashboard Confessional wrote songs about nuclear blast-radii, FEMA controlled concentration camps, and pouted over an ugly sweater, or botched asshole-surgery, instead of some girlfriend who left him years ago, you'd be somewhere near Beck's oeuvre, but not nearly as funny.
|The Colbert Report||Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c|
|The 10/31 Project|
Now, most "liberals" or "progressives" are disturbed by his astonishing popularity and the fact that even the NY Times is running A1 puff pieces on this genuinely deranged clown, but I for one, am glad Beck has garnered such a prime piece of TV real estate. Despite the fact that he is pandering to the delusions of his basket case, borderline psychopathic audience at a time when they feel most alienated, dis-empowered, and potentially violent, I feel that Beck provides a valuable national service at an important time, in so much as he vividly illustrates, perhaps more so than his contemporaries, exactly who the right-wing in this country actually are. Far from the sober, pragmatic, yuppie traditionalists that exist solely in the brain of the Davids (Frum & Brooks) or the manly, shit-kicking, take no prisoner, rugged individualist type that inspires such furious self-abuse from the rest of the talk radio crowd, the Right in this country is Glenn Beck: men who are terrified of everything.
Rather than construct a macho facade, Beck wears the depths of his insecurity on his sleeve, and when he's not crying, he's plainly a man who lives his entire life based on the fear of one in a million disaster scenarios and elaborate conspiracy theories, like a home invasion, nuclear incineration, one-world government death camps, or seeing a vagina. Evidence of this can be seen in Beck's ridiculous "9/12 project" based on the idea that we should all return to the way felt the day after 9/11, namely confusion and fright matched only by a renewed sense of jingoism and xenophobia, so basically exactly what the Glenn Beck's of this nation felt like on 9/10: that the world is out to get them and Chuck Norris is the only one who can help.
Extra Credit- See blogfather IOZ, on just how badly Beck and the Times reporter who profiled him misread Chayefsky's Network, and the meaning of the Howard Beale character specifically.
Update- Steve M. at No More Mister Nice Blog puts it nicely, writing about the upcoming Dish Detergent revolution:
Right-wingers are desperate to see themselves as justified in violence. They fantasize about apocalypse -- an apocalypse, specifically, that will allow them to say they were right. It's their most well-developed idea right now.I might be more disturbed by all this, if I thought for even a second the couch-bound lumps Beck's transmissions intend to stroke into action were actually in shape enough for any kind of real Brownshirt tactics. No one on left or right in this country is gonna do anything other than talk shit on the internet, whereas in Europe...