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Marion On March - 6 - 2010

In his latest editorial at the end of Friday’s Real Time, Bill Maher put out a poignant plea for the public’s understanding and sympathy toward Hollywood’s big, self-promoting pat on the back that’s known as the Oscars. That one, special night, says our lad, is deserved, because – well, because Hollywood is just about the one major industry which is productive and successful in America these days. (Never mind the fact that it was a foreign film which won ‘Best Picture’ last year, or the fact that foreign actors regularly go off with a gong, or even the fact that quite a lot of films are made outside Hollywood these days.

But Bill wouldn’t know that, would he? I mean, considering the fact that he rarely ventures outside the Hollywood bubble, except to slide into various cities for one night only, check into a hotel room, deliver 90 minutes of stand-up and then depart for the West Coast, yet again, by private jet, no doubt … but we’ll forgive him, because he’s our lad and speaks for those of us on the Left, so we won’t worry too much about the extra carbon footprint. Hey, we’ll be magnanimous and global and extend the same sort of licence to be hypocritical to Mr and Mrs Sting and Bono too. This trio has the art of preaching virtues to the little men of the world, whilst enjoying the greatest and most gluttonous of excesses themselves … because they can.

Bill calls the Oscars’ night ‘Hollywood’s Prom.’ And we should allow our hard-working and overpaid celebrities one night of libertine fun, because they work so hard for us, entertaining us, whilst pocketing our hard-earned dough that we can ill-afford to pay – either to catch the latest Clooney flick or even to pay close to a hundred bucks to see Bill say the same thing he’s said countless times before on Real Time for ninety minutes.

I don’t begrudge Bill his success. I suppose he’s paid his dues, in addition to being in the right place at the right time; it’s not my problem, but his, that he – like countless others – has appeared to have forgotten his antecedents once he’s tasted success. Ne’mind … I had the same problem digesting Margaret Thatcher’s use of the royal ‘we’, choosing, instead, to remember that she, like Cardinal Wolsey, came from pretty common stock.

What I do have a problem with, in relation to Bill, is the fact that he continues to present himself as a voice of the Progressives in this nation. In fact, in this latest editorial, he refers to himself as a Progressive.

I am sorry. I dispute that.

On the episode which aired on October 2, 2009, Bill remarked to his guest, David Cross, that he favoured the death penalty. Bill’s said this countless times before, and on this occasion, remarked, “I always say, if you get’em once with the old death penalty, they sure as hell won’t kill again.”

Do we know any Progressives who are in favour of the death penalty?

On a tweet rendered in late December, after the successful capture of the Underpants bomber, Bill tweeted that he was in favour of racial profiling at airports, because “little, old, white ladies were not terrorists.” (Hey, Bill … don’t give the terrorists any ideas).

On a program which aired March 13, 2009, Bill enthusiastically remarked how much in favour he was of Obama’s slapping down the teachers’ unions, and he went on to rant about how much he disliked unions in general. Later in the year, he reiterated this again. So, he’s anti-union. How many Progressives are against the concept of collective bargaining and union representation?

And, finally, on the penultimate program of Real Time last season, he admitted to no less than Bill Frist that he didn’t want the government to have anything to do with his healthcare. This was after making a brilliant analogy for single-payer by comparing government-controlled healthcare to be as efficient as the government-controlled Post Office.

I know, I know … the Post Office isn’t really that efficient, but Bill’s a bit of a Luddite when he’s caught unawares. He’s probably not even aware of the cost of a first class stamp. He just knows that when he writes a letter to his sister in New Jersey on Monday, she has it on Wednesday, two days later. That, in this day of e-mail and conference calling, is just a gratuitous Saturday Evening Post moment, but it served its purpose and Bill pushed the single-payer envelope for the rest of the season … until Bill Frist appeared and unsettled him.

So, Bill Maher, Progressive:

1. believes in the death penalty

2. believes in racial profiling

3. is anti-union

4. and doesn’t want the government to have any say in his healthcare.

Because I’m a tolerant person and because I genuinely like Bill and like my heroes to have feet of clay, I’ll be nice and say that sure as hell sounds like a Blue Dog to me; but to others, it might just have a whiff of a closet Republican about it.

Either way, Bill Maher is no more the voice of any Progressive any more than he is the voice of the middle classes, whose fashionable plight he was pushing on Friday’s show.

If Bill were to spend one month in either the South or flyover country, living the life of a middle-aged middle-class man, on an average wage, with credit cards and bills to pay, a mortgage and a clapped-out second-hand car to maintain, without the security guards or an available Whole Foods … if he were to rise to that challenge and do that and THEN presume to speak for the middle classes, I might give him the kudos and plaudits I’m witholding.

But I’d still say he was a Blue Dog, politically.

And maybe a Republican … but until then, most definitely, more than a little bit of a hypocrite.

9 Responses so far.

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  1. BlueStateMan says:

    Bill Maher is a 5th rate standup who is the LUCKIEST MAN in showbiz.

    He postures as if he is informed, when, after all is said & done, he’s just a dyed-in-the-wool cynic.

    I really can’t STAND him.. he is only as good as his writers & his “show” is only as good as his guests.

    That said, the Academy Awards is the ONLY show that fetes those “below the line” for THEIR contributions.. which are 99% of them.

    The actors have the Globes, the SAG awards, “peoples Choice”. Indie spirit, etc, etc, etc.

    How many others recognize the Cinemtographers, EDITORS.. or the Sound Designers… VFX, Costumes, hell.. most don’t even mention the WRITERS ferchrissakes…

    Lamenting the fact that there are those that are going through hard times should NOT mitigate the fact that this ONE night isn’t a “prom”, as that pompous nincompoop Maher thinks… it’s the WRAP PARTY that most (ESPECIALLY those in POST Production) never get to attend… not to mention the HONOR of being recognized for your hard work by your PEERS.. & not by boxoffice receipts or public popularity.

    You ALSO might take note that, even during the DEPTHS of the Great Depression, the ESCAPE offered by the MOVIES.. the glitter & glitz.. the tears & the LAUGHTER had a near MEDICINAL effect on those who had nothing else in their lives but misery.

    .

    • Khirad says:

      Indeed. Good point on all of the unglamorous hard work that is rarely noticed.

      I still think it’s a bit of a popularity contest, but the fact that The Hurt Locker and Slum Dog have won, shows there’s still worth to the Oscars, unlike many others. Rather, I prefer to see what films win ‘independent’ festivals -- though that has a political component itself.

  2. KQuark says:

    Maher is part of the narcissistic progressive elite that simply does not give a shit about meat and potato Democrats. Politics is all a game to them.

    However the only thing I like about Maher is he is not a lock step on the issues like most ideologues.

    Frankly I see progressives wanting to make the same mistakes the right did and many progressives say they support independent thought but on many issues they expect the same orthodoxy the right does.

    • Khirad says:

      I have a love-hare relationship with him. I do appreciate the non-lock step thing; but do have problems with some of his issues and his methods/motives.

  3. Khirad says:

    Okay, so there was a lot of substantive critique in their about Maher, but the gong for ferrin’ filmmakers acceptance speeches made me double LOL.

  4. Marion says:

    I also forgot that he’s vehemently against government support for the arts -- oh, and he jumped at the opportunity to host the Kennedy Centre tribute to George Carlin in 2008 -- ne’mind the Kennedy Centre being THE standard-bearer for government-supported arts’ projects.

    Bill’s a product of the middle classes. He’s my age, and like me, he’s the child of parents who suffered through a REAL Depression and a world war and worked 24/7 to enable OUR generation to benefit from the type of university education, which -- one generation previous -- we could only have dreamt about.

    I don’t think Bill had a happy childhood or youth. Once he achieved fame, by being in the right place at the right time, he conveniently forgot his antecedents; and he cherry-picks them to suit his own self-promotion.

    As for Whoreanna, she got where she is today by making a business arrangement of a sham marriage, and when the Senate seat didn’t fall in Michael Huffington’s lap, she allowed him to reveal the fact that he was gay and pay her off handsomely. What got me was how he spent weeks obsessing about too much news coverage of Haiti on the MSM, then told Sean Penn that such a tragedy couldn’t be covered enough.

    Bill thinks Americans are stupid. Well, I remember what Bill says from week to week and month to month. Do you think I’m stupid? He might call me so, but I would respond with facts, backed by dates and times, to prove him slightly less than as intelligent as he thinks he is.

    His editorial mentioned Gofer from the Love Boat. I think that just about sums up Whoreanna’s estimation of him. He’s the Gofer for her publicity.

    • Khirad says:

      I think he talked a little about his upbringing in Religulous. Did not sound altogether happy to me, and I think I understand where some of his over-the-top anti-religious pathology comes from. Not that I don’t share many of his views on religion; but yet again, it sorta went over-the-top seemingly for the sake of being transgressive. It seems to be a common trait overarching his career. Not that that doesn’t have its place (provocative and offensive edginess); but I feel it’s often counterproductive in the manner he does it, and rarely serves any purpose but preaching to the choir.

      • Marion says:

        In one of the last episodes of Real Time in 2008 -- the one that aired the week before the Election -- Andrew Sullivan called him out on this very attitude and, basically, wiped the floor with him. Sullivan is gay and a practicing Catholic and a bona fide intellectual, as well as being one of the truly reasonable and enlightened conservatives.

        He told Bill that when he ranted about religion and religious people having a neurological disorder and their stupidity etc, not only did he turn off people he hoped to recruit to his way of thinking, he also risked sounding just as intolerant, bigoted and exclusive as the people he criticized. At the end of that, Bill looked as though he could have been bought for the proverbial dime. Needless to say, Sullivan has not been back on the show since; and funny enough, Frank Schaeffer called Bill out on the very same issue in a BLOG that Whoreanna gave pride of place to on HP.

  5. AdLib says:

    You left out that he supported Bush on the Iraq War as well.

    Maher is a self-absorbed, opportunist “progressive”. He is not fully evolved as a Progressive with this simplistic, kneejerk positions on many issues and he seems to take positions that will get him a lot of publicity, make him look “cool” or “rebellious” or, in the case of supporting Bush and the Iraq War, are meant to ingratiate himself with those in power.

    Certainly, everyone is entitled to their own combination of opinions but as you say, his opinions seem less than earnest or thoughtful or Progressive on many issues.

    As for his plea to the people suffering through this economy to let Hollywood eat their cake in front of everyone, I completely agree that it is wholly ignorant.

    Just the opposite, when the majority of Americans are going through tough times, it is far more Progressive not to flaunt wealth and reprimand people for not appreciating that. Maher wanted to brag about all the extravagant parties he’s attending with celebrities and didn’t want the common people ruining the high he gets from it. Very childish and self-centered.

    Maher IS an elitist. Did you hear him tell Arianna that she should just marry a billionaire and start up her own news channel? Maher’s world is so far removed from real people, true Progressives, the condescending attitude he has is not flattering to the movement at all.


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