Prior to the recent announcement of the end of Glenn Beck’s FOX News television programme, I occasionally enjoyed the satire presented therein. I didn’t get to watch it as much as The Daily Show, but I enjoyed what I saw. Being the highest rated programme on the network (or so I hear, but that may be wrong), I assumed most of its viewers enjoyed it for the same reasons I did. After all, that many people can’t take it seriously, can they?
Apparently, I was wrong. There are very few websites congratulating Beck on his humour. Other than mine, this is the only one I found worth mentioning.
Countless others, such as The Huffing A Ton Post, PoliticusI’mInsane, The Guardian From Sanity, Yahoo! News (I don’t even have to spoof that one’s name), Sickipedia, and Associated With Mess take him seriously from one side or the other. The former even deleted my comments which pointed out that Glenn Beck was a satirist. They don’t want you to know he’s a satirist. That goes to show you that the extreme left is just as dangerous as the extreme right. Many of the others have told me I was stupid for thinking he was a satirist. The fact that someone who doesn’t understand satire is calling me stupid for laughing at satire gave me the chance to dust off and recycle my classic line, “I love irony and you’re full of it.” Not that they understood, but it was fun for me nonethless.
So, here’s a question for you (and feel free to use the comments section):
Which is a bigger problem? A satirist who goes on television with unique and hilarious conspiracy theory logic as part of his routine or the sheer number of idiots who take this guy seriously?
If you answered the former, your type is responsible for Lenny Bruce’s legal troubles. The former is not a problem. The former is a good thing. The latter is a problem. Glenn Beck is not dangerous. Glenn Beck is funny. I have no doubt that he’ll jump on some other network and continue his brand of humour (I’m hoping Comedy Central or The Onion). Remember, this isn’t the first time he got fired because people took him seriously and it won’t be the last.
Who is really dangerous are the people who take him seriously. I knew there was a fringe right wingnut group who did, but what I had no idea about is the sheer number of people on the left, with no sense of humour, that wanted him destroyed. One man finally succeeded at getting him kicked off FOX but, as a satirist myself, I assure you that he will not consider it a loss and he will be entertaining again.
I know there is a fringe left wingnut group that took him seriously after watching the programme, but the sheer number of people protesting him from the left seems to suggest that most of them are simply people who have never seen the programme and are just told what it is. The fact that The Huffington Post censored my comments about it seems to suggest that this is more about partisan bickering than anything else. Keep the fight alive. Remember the motto of the powers that be: Divided We Stand.
I saw Friday’s The Daily Show today, and I must say that, even knowing how hard satire is to parody, Jon Stewart’s performance was funnier than anything Glenn Beck has ever done. Clearly, Mr. Stewart knows what he’s parodying. If he didn’t, he would be unable to be so good at it. As a parody artist myself, I can tell you that you absolutely cannot effectively parody what you don’t respect. Jon Stewart respects Glenn Beck. Think about that. Maybe Beck’s new job will be a parody of his old job on The Daily Show. I would watch that.
So, in conclusion, Glenn Beck is no more dangerous than any other satirist. That is to say, he’s only as dangerous as people make him. A satirist’s job is to make you think about things that are by entertaining you (usually by making you laugh). It is possible for followers or enemies of a satirist to take him seriously, but the problem is the people rather than the satirist.
What happened with Glenn Beck is a clear example of why Poe’s Law should be taught in schools. Nobody who knows Poe’s Law took the man seriously. Period. No exceptions.
Glenn Beck, I apologise that too large a number of your fans and foes were idiots who can’t tell satire when they see it and I wish you the best in your future. Comedy Central, please hire him. He’d be perfect for you.