Douthat & O’Keefe, Legacy Comics

You know the old chestnut, “History repeats itself — first as tragedy, then as farce”? Well, comedy works the same way. And it turns out (sorry, DougJ) that Ross Douthat might actually consider himself to be a comedian, in the mold of Bill Murray.

Recent events have convinced me that Douthat, the NYT’s “new, young” opinionator, and James O’Keefe III, “conservative activist” and FBI person of interest, are spiritual twins. Twin sons of different mothers, perhaps, sharing the same patriarch, or Patriarchy. They are rising conservative stars, young men who strive to turn their separate highly privileged upbringings into quick fame and fortune, using only the gushing springs of wingnut media welfare and the time-honored (read: worn & outdated) tropes of frat-boy philosophy. They are the two sides of modern Libertarian-Conservative “funny”. They are Legacy Comics.

Generally, “legacy comics” is the term for those funny-page panel strips in your local newspaper that haven’t been funny within living memory, i.e., since the original creator went senile or died. Of course, nobody expects serial strips like Rex Morgan MD or Dick Tracy to be entertaining — they’re the graphic equivalent of David Broder, staggering onwards only because the newspapers’ aging editors can’t bear to admit that the average American gets their daily medical / forensic entertainment from television and their daily political / criminal entertainment from the Enquirer and Drudge. But some of the unfunniest stuff in the funny pages used to be entertaining, in a distant time and a vanished context. Most comic readers under 40 remember Jonny Hart as a bitter, christianist altekacker, but in the early 1960s stuff like “Clams got legs! – Now we’ll have to kill him” or “How sweet — he killed me a friend” were mordant and unexpected enough to be hilarious. Even the early Peanuts strips had a certain edge, back when the stereotypes now enshrined in Mad Men were not charming vintage sketches but scary soul-damaged individuals like The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit. The problem is that creativity isn’t a bottomless well — not even the kind of creativity that gets expressed as three-panel jokes on a five-to-seven-days-a-week basis. Newspaper editors and readers hate changes, and want the comic artist to keep giving them the same-thing-only-different to go with their coffee; the comic artist burns out, dies, or gets too senile; so the “franchise” gets handed over to the artist’s otherwise-unemployable offspring, or to the “assistant” who’s been cleaning up the misspelled words & palsied drawing for the last quarter-century.

Actual live comedians have the same problem… just look at Chevy Chase. You can only do so many pratfalls before turning into Jerry Lewis. Comics burn out, sometimes literally (hello, Richard Pryor). The wise or lucky ones find a way to transition into a different branch of entertainment, like Cosby moving from stand-up to I Spy to sit-com. Those less lucky end up dead or vanished. And twenty years later, when media classes and YouTube have turned their patented bits and tics into Classics of the Form, some punk (whose parents once broke comedians’ hearts by sitting stone-faced at an undersold gig, determinedly not getting the point) looks around at a roomful of his frat brothers wetting themselves over their forty-fifth viewing of Animal House or SNL: The Classic Years and says to himself, “I could do this, if only I can figure out where the money is.”

Now, James O’Keefe, “guerrilla videographer”, has openly declared himself a political comedian, at least while the FBI is still investigating his “boyish hijinks”. Cruel liberals have compared him unfavorably to vintage right-wing funny guy G. Gordon Liddy, but O’Keefe’s obvious role model (and this would kill the poor man, if he weren’t already dead) is the late, great John Belushi. Unfortunately, O’Keefe’s understanding of Belushi’s cut-yourself-on-the-bleeding-edge physical comedy is as superficial and moronic as a Republican congressman’s understanding of legislative debate. O’Keefe looked at the Blues Brothers and said to himself: “Big sunglasses and trash talk — the coloreds love that stuff! Wrecking other people’s lives — that never gets old!”

But Ross Douthat is nowhere so obvious. He is, after all, a Harvard man, as he will not hesitate to remind you. Not for our Ross the cheap laffs of mere physical comedy. He has a subtler and longer-lived role model: Bill Murray, the Maynard G. Krebs of the mid-1970s. Murray has made a profitable career out of being The Guy Who’s A Little Too Hip for the Room. And he does that role very well, even if it’s not a setpiece to everyone’s taste. For Douthat, it’s all about the ironic distance… nobody with sufficient education to get into Harvard is going to decorate his room there with posters of Russell Crowe and Audrey Hepburn without tongue so firmly in cheek as to protrude from the vulgar bodily orifice. Even among the Modern American Conservatives, a tribe not known for its self-awareness, no young man claiming to be heterosexual is going to publish a memoir where finding out a potential sexual partner has taken intelligent precautions against pregnancy is a boner-killer. Nobody who doesn’t consider himself A Little Too Hip for the Room is going to start his career as a big-time NYT intellectual with a column titled “Dick Cheney for President“.

Yes, the inescapable conclusion is that Ross Douthat considers himself a comedian. But the question remains: Are we laughing with him, or just at him?






97 replies
  1. 1
    jeffreyw says:

    Neither, won’t read.

  2. 2
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    Are we laughing with him, or just at him?

    Speakly strictly for me, at him.

  3. 3
    aimai says:

    I don’t know about this:

    …nobody with sufficient education to get into Harvard is going to decorate his room there with posters of Russell Crowe and Audrey Hepburn without tongue so firmly in cheek as to protrude from the vulgar bodily orifice.

    I went to Harvard, albeit a long time ago, and I can assure you that it takes all kinds, aesthetically speaking, to make up a class there. We have to accept that Douthat is, in fact, just as intellectually and aesthetically vapid as he pretends to be. They don’t actually have an educational ap to cure adolescent puerility.

    But I agree wholeheartedly with the notion that Douthat, like Brooks, Goldberg, and every other plump and earnest neo-conservative is a legacy hire/legacy pundit and their function is simply to keep the comic strip going, always recognizably the same, for an increasingly old and out of touch readership.

    aimai

  4. 4
  5. 5
    MikeBoyScout says:

    Excellent post!

  6. 6
    matoko_chan says:

    Belushi would spit on O’Keefe as an unfunnie rightwing choad.
    O’Keefe is Neidermeyer.
    See the nose, and the corncob-up-the-butt ‘tude?

  7. 7
    Morbo says:

    OT site issue: Anyone else having front page issues? Blogroll and side ads are gone, and there’s a huge gaping void at the bottom. Thread pages are still fine.

  8. 8
    MattF says:

    Maybe it’s just that comedians are Ahead Of Their Time… so the unease with O’Keefe or Douthat is when we see that it wasn’t actually a joke, after all.

    We can laugh and say “I get it, I get it”– but that doesn’t stop them.

  9. 9
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  11. 11
    matoko_chan says:

    no young man claiming to be heterosexual is going to publish a memoir where finding out a potential sexual partner has taken intelligent precautions against pregnancy is a boner-killer.

    but….Douthat IS homosexual. He is obviously not attracted to women—he thinks women are icky and gross….walking uteruses that need to controlled and properly relegated to the role of breederbots.
    He is in massive denial about his sexuality.

    What can smell as sweet as flowers
    when it wishes…
    and other times
    can stink like fishes. –Kit Marlowe

  12. 12
    GregB says:

    Douchecap has entered the parody phase of his career already.

    Last night while nodding off to sleep at a hotel in Bangor, Maine I had the tv set tuned to Extra!

    Lo and behold, hipster Douthat appeared sporting his newly clipped van dyke beard. What was Douthy Dear doing on Extra!

    Why he was the conservative talking head of choice for Extra! opining about the evil liberal bias of Avatar.

    Needless to say I quickly ordered a pay per view porn to wash the image out of my mind.

    -G

  13. 13

    The one thing I have never seen asked of Douthat is if he’s ever been embarassed. Because I don’t sense that he has. It’s a trait common among most all wingnuts.

  14. 14

    @GregB: Is Douthat following the BillO career model? After all, Extra! and Inside Edition are essentially the same thing.

  15. 15
    aimai says:

    Calvin Jones and the 13th apostle,
    I think its pretty clear that Douthat can experience embarrassment and shame–look at the way he tries to suck up to the interviewer from Mother Jones and implicitly, to his “gay friends” who he doesn’t want to discompose with his harsh attitudes towards their actual lives. He’s a moral *and* social coward, and that kind of person can experience embarrassment and even shame. But he works hard, I presume, to avoid situations in which he is sure to be embarrassed.

    aimai

  16. 16
    burnspbesq says:

    If Douthat is a comedian, he is the political Jim Carrey – they guy I look at and say “I have no fucking clue why anybody with an IQ of 12 or higher finds this shit funny.”

  17. 17
    DavidNC says:

    Peanuts deserves better than to be lumped in w/ BC. And it’s greatness isn’t reducible to its edginess either. AAANND, the early Peanuts comics were actually the least funny. K, I’m done.

  18. 18
    GregB says:

    Calvin.

    I am eagerly anticipating Douthat’s ‘Fuck it…..do it live!’ moment.

    -G

  19. 19
    gnomedad says:

    Now, James O’Keefe, “guerrilla videographer”, has openly declared himself a political comedian,

    Translation: I refuse to own my message or my actions; if someone calls bullshit, I’m “just a comedian”.

  20. 20
    dsquared says:

    I have to agree with the commenters above – I mean, there is nothing wrong with this morally, and it’s a slightly tragic situation for which we should feel sorry for him and his wife, but … well, he is gay, isn’t he? Reading that Mother Jones article, it practically screams out of the page. He’s got lots of gay friends and doesn’t want to talk about them, he’s very close to his mother … it’s practically a sitcom stereotype. At one point the article suggests that his development into high-church conservative Anglo-Catholicism is “a familiar path”. And it is – I’ve got several friends who are intellectually and culturally in the same place, and they’re all gay. At some point it’s going to come out. He’s even a fan of the fucking Narnia books, that’s how far in the closet he is.

  21. 21
    JGabriel says:

    For Douthat, it’s all about the ironic distance…

    The man who turned down Chunky Reese Witherspoon has ironic distance?

    I don’t know, Anne. I think you might be confusing irony with sexual squeamishness.

    .

  22. 22
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @dsquared:

    He’s even a fan of the fucking Narnia books, that’s how far in the closet he is.

    Technically, it is a wardrobe.

  23. 23
    asdf says:

    Just for the record, Maynard G. Krebs would be located in the early 60’s not the 70s.

  24. 24
    gnomedad says:

    @dsquared:

    At one point the article suggests that his development into high-church conservative Anglo-Catholicism is “a familiar path”. And it is – I’ve got several friends who are intellectually and culturally in the same place, and they’re all gay.

    What with the pedophilia and the obsession with celibacy, I never noticed that the Church might be esthetically gay. Very interesting.

  25. 25
    Martin says:

    OT, but here’s an insightful explanation over the Amazon/Macmillan spat and how it relates to where electronic books are going from a business standpoint.

    It’s at least somewhat relevant to the question of choice of ebook reader simply due to how Amazon has positioned themselves. I expect Amazon will lose this fight, which will be good for the consumer, so it’s probably not relevant in the long term but it’s a little surprising that Amazon allowed this to turn into a public battle. They win no points from customers for taking the position they are.

  26. 26

    @dsquared: I suspect that Douthat is going to have to get married and have it completely collapse before he faces reality.

  27. 27
    matoko_chan says:

    @gnomedad:

    I never noticed that the Church might be esthetically gay.

    Sheesh…..they all wear dresses.

  28. 28
    JGabriel says:

    Omnes Omnibus:

    Technically, it is a wardrobe.

    And that’s less gay … how?

    .

  29. 29
    aimai says:

    Oh, Omnes Omnibus too brilliant.

    aimai

  30. 30
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @JGabriel: Can one come out of the wardrobe? As a euphemism, that is.

  31. 31
    JGabriel says:

    asdf:

    Just for the record, Maynard G. Krebs would be located in the early 60’s not the 70s.

    But it wasn’t until the 70’s that he came out of the wardrobe and moved to a little bungalow in the Pacific to be with his beloved Skipper.

    Edited to add: Omnes Omnibus, I assume that answers your question.

    .

  32. 32
    AhabTRuler says:

    @JGabriel: Well, it all really depends on how stylish the wardrobe is, doesn’t it?

  33. 33
    SpotWeld says:

    O’Keffe seems to model himself after Michael Moore. And like him or not, Moore does understand how to do what he does.

    Specifically, O’Keefe wants to be the Moore of “TV Nation”. On that show Moore would take an issue then ramp it up in absurdity to the point of humor, then dial it back for an admittedly occasionally overwrought message. The best example that comes to mind is the time he challenged a bunch of CEOs of use their products (Ford to change the oil in his car, Johnson & Johnson to wash some dishes with their soap..etc.)

    Moore or his commentators would be right there on screen or in narration guiding the viewers though the episode.

    O’Keffe is working from a point of cowardice. He wants the audience approval that a comedian can thrive on, but none of the risk of dying on stage.

    So O’Keffe never narrates, never risks himself. He only edits out anything that isn’t within his parameters and lets the local news outlet set the narrative.

  34. 34
  35. 35
    geg6 says:

    Gotta agree with those who say Chunky Bobo sets off their gaydar. I know he sets mine screaming. The only other pundit who gives off such a vividly obvious “girls are icky” attitude is Andrew Sullivan. And Sully is..well, he’s gay. I can’t believe he published that Chunky Reese thing. And didn’t see what just about anyone else can see is the truth behind it. I find him quite stupid and it just infuriates me that wingnut idiots like him always skate through life. I would be hard pressed to not punch him in the face if I would ever run into him. And that’s for reals.

  36. 36
    asdf says:

    Watch Rush Limbaugh Dance
    http://www.newser.com/story/79.....dance.html

    Please pardon the off topic post but this is slightly funny.

  37. 37
    licensed to kill time says:

    @JGabriel:

    Come out of that Wardrobe, there’s a Lion and a Witch in there!

  38. 38
    JGabriel says:

    SpotWeld:

    O’Keefe wants to be the Moore of “TV Nation”. […] The best example that comes to mind is the time [Moore] challenged a bunch of CEOs …

    That’s where the analogy falls apart. Moore goes after rich bastards who abuse their fellow citizens; O’Keefe targets low-level bureaucrats trying to help the poor.

    .

  39. 39
    Cat Lady says:

    Well, it all really depends on how stylish the wardrobe is, doesn’t it?

    As stylish as this?

  40. 40
    sukabi says:

    for some folks to get to Harvard it doesn’t take a lick of intelligence, a grasp of the world around them, or a stellar prior educational record… all it takes is to be a legacy, to have a parent or grandparent who has been there and is willing to dump an assload of $$$ to place their wayward, dumbfuck spawn in the institution… In fact, 43 was just such a project, and you’re going to have to prove to me that Douchehat is no different.

  41. 41
    SpotWeld says:

    @JGabriel: If anything that re-enforces my point of O’Keffe’s cowardice.

  42. 42
    aimai says:

    I don’t think we can know, really, what O’Keefe and his buddies think they are doing. I definitely don’t think he’s modeled himself on Moore. I think that’s a second order excuse for the behavior which he thinks is a get out of jail free card. Its more like what someone posted upthread, the guy who says something unforgiveable and then says “just kidding.” I think O’Keefe and the others sound like they are planning something much more in the general Young Republican mold: start up a little company/newspaper/film making organization based on defaming and attacking Democrats, and wait for the big money to roll in from conservative donors. Move up food chain.

    aimai

  43. 43
    sukabi says:

    as for the claiming to be comedians, that’s the same claim that O’Reilly, Hannity, Beck, Limbaugh claim every time they are faced with having to apologize for some of the more racist, hateful, inflammatory and borderline criminal things they advocate… suddenly it’s all a joke.

    What Douchehat and O’Keefe have learned is that claiming “comedy” is a get out of jail free card for the RW assholes.

  44. 44
    handy says:

    @asdf:

    I’m of the opinion that there’s only so much pathetic closeted gay a thread can take. But that’s just me.

  45. 45
    JGabriel says:

    SpotWeld:

    If anything that re-enforces my point of O’Keffe’s cowardice.

    Actually, yes, it does. Agreed.

    .

  46. 46
    JGabriel says:

    aimai:

    I think O’Keefe and the others sound like they are planning something much more in the general Young Republican mold: start up a little company/newspaper/film making organization based on defaming and attacking Democrats, and wait for the big money to roll in from conservative donors.

    So, basically, you’re saying that O’Keefe, and sundry et. al., want to start a media company that is to the National Enquirer Review, as Screw is to Playboy?

    That sounds about right.

    .

  47. 47
    JGabriel says:

    @gnomedad:

    I never noticed that the Church might be esthetically gay.

    You’re not very observant, are you?

    .

  48. 48
    aimai says:

    JGabriel,
    Yes. Or something. I think that one of them, can’t remember which, was already implicated in a scheme like that–founding a campus “conservative” newspaper with college funding then going harder right, dropping the inconvenient campus advisor, and getting all their money and support from outside conservative sources. This was the Dartmouth Review strategy, too, I believe (though their funding came from the very conservative Dartmouth alumni, not just outsiders) and it was the Dartmouth Review that launched the careers of Dinesh D’souza and Laura Ingraham as well as lesser known but just as objectionable lights.

    aimai

  49. 49
    Fergus Wooster says:

    At, obviously.

    It never ceases to amaze me when people with no capacity for irony play the irony/comedy card. Falls a bit flat.

    Anyone remember the Half-Hour News Hour?

  50. 50
    Zach says:

    I’d probably pick Eddie Murphy or Rob Schneider over Belushi for O’Keefe.

    Edit: Not that it’d be deserved, but you’re probably gonna have something grabbed out of that post for a Poseur Alert post by Sullivan… doesn’t really deserve it, but attacking one of the other few real conservatives left in the world is a contributing factor.

  51. 51
    tammanycall says:

    The posters on his dorm room wall were of Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe, and Russell Crowe in full “Gladiator” regalia – of course he’s gay.

    And just as an aside, why is it that all the conservatives who HATE HOLLYWOOD are also obsessed with it?

  52. 52
    gnomedad says:

    @JGabriel:

    You’re not very observant, are you?

    Well, I was brought up in the Church; probably it’s more obvious to outsiders.

  53. 53
    jenniebee says:

    Ross Douthat isn’t a comedian; he’s a romantic. He’s he Walter Mitty of punditry. There’s something inately attractive about romanticism, but it’s tragic when the romantic confuses himself with a realist, and it’s catastrophic when those around him do the same.

  54. 54
    JGabriel says:

    gnomedad:

    Well, I was brought up in the Church; probably it’s more obvious to outsiders.

    Dude, I was an altar boy. Literally. And I noticed. Not until I was in college and had gay friends, though, so, on second thought, you might have a point there.

    .

  55. 55
    Alex S. says:

    @tammanycall:

    True… hating hollywood with Monroe posters on the wall.

  56. 56
    Fergus Wooster says:

    @tammanycall:
    Hating Hollywood, except for Raygun and Schwarzenegger. . . and Sinise. . .

    And of course, the all-time chickenhawk John Wayne.

  57. 57
    El Cid says:

    Not laughing with or at. Disgusted. Disgusted that one fucking microsecond of my time or one inch of news media space is taken up by such dreck.

  58. 58
    Eastriver says:

    Not really buying the thesis. But I am a huge supporter of the length of the post. More please. And more like this from JC when his wing heals.

  59. 59
    JGabriel says:

    jenniebee:

    [Douthat is] the Walter Mitty of punditry.

    Po’ Danny Kaye. What did he ever do to deserve that comparison?

    .

  60. 60
    jeffreyw says:

    Yay for faxzero.com!

  61. 61
    Martin says:

    @JGabriel: But that’s the main difference between liberals and conservatives – and has been at least since Reagan, probably Nixon.

    The right blames everything on blacks, the poor, immigrants, gays, atheists – basically anyone out of power. That goes for their religious leaders as well who explain God’s wrath against Haiti, NOLA, 9/11 on the same elements. The anti-government movement is inconsistent with this, however, which is why the right ends up looking at times like fascists – because they simultaneously oppose their public servants and embrace the free market and corporations.

    The left blames pretty much everything on those in power – executives, corporations, but are more eager to embrace public officials though hesitantly because of the influence of the power groups. The left also has trouble distancing itself from groups out of power when the get into power, or at least striking a balance there. Unions are not always out-of-power groups, for example. They don’t deserve a free pass on everything which the left is a bit more likely to do, but given that the right blames everything on them, it’s more than understandable.

  62. 62
    The Republic of Stupidity says:

    @tammanycall:

    And just as an aside, why is it that all the conservatives who HATE HOLLYWOOD are also obsessed with it?

    Jealousy, pure and simple…

  63. 63
    burnspbesq says:

    Way, way OT – but since there is no current open thread, I’m putting it hear.

    If you like jazz even a little, you need to hear “Esta Plena,” the latest from alto saxophonist Miguel Zenon.

  64. 64
    Tim in SF says:

    Bill Maher was on Larry King last year (I think). He said, “pundits are failed comedians.” Seems to confirm your entire post, Anne.

  65. 65
    Liberty60 says:

    But the question remains: Are we laughing with him, or just at him?

    Damned if I know. But the real takeaway from this piece is a clear message, to never, ever, get on the wrong side of Anne Laurie.
    Reading this takedown of Douthat is like watching the beatdown of Carli by Sonny in The Godfather; you know its the right thing to do, but it nearly brings you to pity.

    Oh, and FWIW, as much as I dearly love the original SNL lineup, they DID in fact have a serious case of smugness, or being Too Hip For The Room, which makes young Mr. O’Keefe their heir.
    Indirectly, by way of P.J. O’Rourke.

  66. 66
    maus says:

    O’Keefe’s obvious role model (and this would kill the poor man, if he weren’t already dead) is the late, great John Belushi.

    If only it was Kaufman, and he was making fun of the conservatives in an aggravatingly hilarious manner.

  67. 67
    maus says:

    @tammanycall:

    And just as an aside, why is it that all the conservatives who HATE HOLLYWOOD are also obsessed with it?

    They hate anything that they don’t control 100%. Also, Liberal Jews (the bad kind that won’t bring Christ back and convert.)

  68. 68
    John says:

    Am I the only one who is having trouble figuring out what the hell Anne is getting at here? Because after reading this post I have no idea what her point is. I don’t understand why O’Keefe and Douthat are apparently the same, what the connection is to “B.C.” and other legacy comics, in what sense Douthat is like Bill Murray, or much of anything else here.

    I do know that there is one thing that Anne is completely wrong about – Rex Morgan, M.D. and Dick Tracy are fucking hilarious.

  69. 69
    Mike G says:

    I am eagerly anticipating Douthat’s ‘Fuck it…..do it live!’ moment.

    LOL! The remix:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5j2YDq6FkVE

  70. 70
    Jill says:

    I don’t know where you get the idea that James O’Keefe had some sort of privileged upbringing. He is a graduate of Westwood Regional High School in Bergen County, NJ. I know the area well, and one thing the two towns whose scions go there does NOT have is snootiness. Westwood is a solid middle-class community with a really good downtown, a good stock of “charming older homes” near town and somewhat newer neighborhoods of Cape Cods and ranches further out — and a “black section” behind what used to be a hospital. Yes, unfortunately redlining is alive and well out in Whitelandia.

    The other town that feeds it is a town so Republican that for 30 years the entrenched hackocracy ran unopposed. Lots of “John 3:16” signs and signs that read “Keep Christ in Christmas” on lawns during the holidays right in front of the cheap plastic inflatable Santa in a hammock between two palm trees drinking a margarita. I shit you not.

    So in other words, O’Keefe is just another wingnut punk whose old man probably hangs out at the Dunkin’ Donuts or the 7-11 in the morning drinking coffee and railing about the powers that be in town while voting for the same hacks every single time.

  71. 71
    maus says:

    @John: ,

    what the connection is to “B.C.” and other legacy comics

    Uh, BC became unfunnily conservative and towards the end started making poorly veiled references to how Islam “stinks”, but it’s not as if these boys had a career to go south, they started out terrible.

  72. 72
    Martin says:

    @The Republic of Stupidity: I wouldn’t quite agree – maybe there’s a bit of that, but I think it’s also bigger than that.

    The goal of conservatives for decades has been to get in good standing with the levers of power in this country – corporations, religious heads, the military, the news media and so on. The problem is that no matter what they do, they can’t break into entertainment media. Unlike the other areas, entertainment media lives and dies by their ability to market ideas to the public, and the ugly truth is that conservative ideas are generally not entertaining and not interesting. Imagine what conservative sci-fi would look like – it would look just like today with only the unsavory bits changed – Christianity would rule all, the gays would be cured in some fashion, government would be nonexistent but we’d have Death Stars protecting our borders. Change is entertaining – either utopian or dystopian, we are entertained by different notions of change. Fantasy suffers the same problem – unless it can REALLY obviously distilled into the above scenario, they’re opposed to it. Well, Hollywood can’t sell that shit, and so there’s a lever of power – a pretty big one, in fact, that they get nowhere with and so their only recourse it to try and tear it down.

  73. 73
    maus says:

    Unlike the other areas, entertainment media lives and dies by their ability to market ideas to the public, and the ugly truth is that conservative ideas are generally not entertaining and not interesting

    In other words, they HATE it when the “Free market of ideas” doesn’t favor their top-down control. Even Fox couldn’t sustain the half hour comedy hour or whatever it was called.

  74. 74
    debbie says:

    I’ve read that O’Keefe considers himself a journalist, but he reminds me more of Jackass’s Steve O.

  75. 75
    Martin says:

    @maus: Right. It’s not so much jealousy, rather that they realize their movement has no traction with the public from a big-ideas perspective. It sells okay in a scary don’t-let-the-gheys-marry sense, but when people step back from their own personal borders and look at society more broadly, they generally don’t like the looks of it. I think conservatives recognize this but don’t know how to address it because they can’t get past focusing on their own personal borders. I don’t think its that they don’t care what happens to the rest of the world, I think they just can’t let go enough to even see it.

  76. 76
    Sm*t Cl*de says:

    Technically, it is a wardrobe.
    No love for armoires or chifferobes?

  77. 77
    brandon says:

    BC became unfunnily conservative and towards the end started making poorly veiled references to how Islam “stinks”, but it’s not as if these boys had a career to go south, they started out terrible.

    No, it really didn’t – the first few years of it were actually very pointedly minimalist, built a consistent world where the cavemen were cavemen, and the comics were pretty funny. However the blatant sexism of the strip was always there.

    I wouldn’t put it in the same league as Peanuts.

  78. 78
    Nellcote says:

    @Martin:

    I think conservatives recognize this but don’t know how to address it because they can’t get past focusing on their own personal borders.

    Conservatives are just not creative. They excel at marketing their perversions of liberal ideas (ie. death panels, etc) but they are not creative on their own.

  79. 79
    Nellcote says:

    @Sm*t Cl*de:

    Technically, it is a wardrobe.
    No love for armoires or chifferobes?

    Is that like a credenza?

  80. 80
    WereBear says:

    @Martin: It’s not just that; one’s brain has to work a certain way to be capable of creativity.

    Their brains barely work, much less in a creative way.

  81. 81
    matoko_chan says:

    @J. Michael Neal:

    suspect that Douthat is going to have to get married and have it completely collapse before he faces reality.

    Dude……he is married.
    I imagine him whacking off into a mason jar in the bathroom (with his gladiator poster) and then using a turkey baster to attempt to impregnate his poor wife, so he won’t get grrl cooties or have to touch the icky nasty female parts.

  82. 82

    @dsquared:

    He’s even a fan of the fucking Narnia books, that’s how far in the closet he is.

    Ah yes, I remember the first book of the Chronicles of Narnia, The Lion, the Witch, The Village People and the Wardrobe. The scene where Lucy, Edmund, Susan and Peter go through the wardrobe, which is full of wetsuits, dildos and leather chaps, into the land of Narnia is still magical.

  83. 83
    maus says:

    @Nellcote:

    Conservatives are just not creative. They excel at marketing their perversions of liberal ideas (ie. death panels, etc) but they are not creative on their own.

    They don’t want to be creative, they want people to listen to what they have to say, but what they have to say is “I PREFER THE STATUS QUO AND THE 50s LIFE I WAS SOLD ON, BUT NEVER REALLY EXISTED. ALSO, WHITE MALE CONSERVATIVE PRIVILEGE, WHY DO PEOPLE KEEP TRYING TO ERODE IT, LOL!”

    yes they speak all in caps so you “get” the joke.

  84. 84

    @Cat Lady:

    Well, it all really depends on how stylish the wardrobe is, doesn’t it?

    As stylish as this?

    Ohmigawd. A 5000 Fingers of Doctor T. You’re so cool!

    I can’t believe that this hasn’t been revived on Broadway. I would go see it in a heartbeat if it were.

  85. 85

    @Martin:

    Imagine what conservative sci-fi would look like – it would look just like today with only the unsavory bits changed – Christianity would rule all, the gays would be cured in some fashion, government would be nonexistent but we’d have Death Stars protecting our borders.

    You don’t have to imagine what conservative sci-fi would look like, just go over to Baen books and read any of the crap put out by Tom Kratman and John Ringo.

  86. 86
    maus says:

    Conservative “sci-fi” is any of the Newt re-histories.

    Or more likely, whatever the Texas School Board is dictating to the publishers.

  87. 87

    @Martin:

    The problem is that no matter what they do, they can’t break into entertainment media. Unlike the other areas, entertainment media lives and dies by their ability to market ideas to the public, and the ugly truth is that conservative ideas are generally not entertaining and not interesting.

    The Nazis had Leni Riefenstahl and Triumph of the Will. The Soviet communists had Sergey Eisenstein and Alexsandr Nevsky. The Republicans, David Zucker, Jon Voight and American Carol.

  88. 88
    Yutsano says:

    Heh. You said alte kacker.

  89. 89
    Alan in SF says:

    The problem is that creativity isn’t a bottomless well—not even the kind of creativity that gets expressed as three-panel jokes on a five-to-seven-days-a-week basis.

    Except for Ernie Bushmiller, of course.

  90. 90
    Joey Maloney says:

    I laugh with TBogg laughing at Douthat.

  91. 91
    Tom Degan says:

    Aw, c’mon! These are just a bunch of kids! This is just a harmless school boy prank! You know what they say, don’cha? Boys will be boys!

    No doubt about it. It’ll be amusing to watch the right wing media trying to spin this latest debacle. Yesterday O’Keefe was the newest Fascist poster boy. Today he is a man looking at a nice stint in federal prison. The Republicans are once again experiencing the kind of OOPS moment for which they have become famous for in recent years. It really is quite touching when you think about it.

    Is this merely the tip of a nasty iceberg? Will O’Keefe “cooperate” with federal investigators in order to reduce his sentence? Are there bigger fish that are due some serious frying?

    To be continued….

    http://www.tomdegan.blogspot.com

    Tom Degan

  92. 92
    Sm*t Cl*de says:

    tongue so firmly in cheek as to protrude from the vulgar bodily orifice

    This really deserves to be in the Lexicon.
    (along with the rest of the Lafferty canon).

  93. 93
    Mothra says:

    Good post, Annie.

  94. 94
    MarkJ says:

    When did thinking Audrey Hepburn was hot turn you gay?

    Exception #1 to the stand-up comedian rule: George Carlin. He was hilarious until the end.

  95. 95
    Aaron Baker says:

    I think the first (and last) Ross Douthat essay I read from start to finish was one that asked why Harvard grads are widely hated. In it he and his Harvard friends have a big laugh at the expense of a waiter from (are you ready for this?) Tufts. What a loser! Hilarity all around!

    Such is the power of prose that I began to hate Harvard grads, too–and I knew exactly why.

  96. 96
    Svensker says:

    @matoko_chan:

    Oh man. I’m sending you the bill for cleaning my brain out after that. Gaaakkk.

  97. 97

    […] Anne Laurie at Balloon Juice in a longish (and at points very interesting) post making a number of comparisons and sub-comparisons, has this to say about Ross Douthat: But Ross Douthat is nowhere so obvious. He is, after all, a Harvard man, as he will not hesitate to remind you. Not for our Ross the cheap laffs of mere physical comedy. He has a subtler and longer-lived role model: Bill Murray, the Maynard G. Krebs of the mid-1970s. Murray has made a profitable career out of being The Guy Who’s A Little Too Hip for the Room. […]

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  1. […] Anne Laurie at Balloon Juice in a longish (and at points very interesting) post making a number of comparisons and sub-comparisons, has this to say about Ross Douthat: But Ross Douthat is nowhere so obvious. He is, after all, a Harvard man, as he will not hesitate to remind you. Not for our Ross the cheap laffs of mere physical comedy. He has a subtler and longer-lived role model: Bill Murray, the Maynard G. Krebs of the mid-1970s. Murray has made a profitable career out of being The Guy Who’s A Little Too Hip for the Room. […]

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