Watch out Stephen Colbert; Glenn Beck is gunning for your gig. I know a lot of people take the crazy-like-a-toxic Fox News firebrand seriously. And I'm not suggesting he's not a force to be reckoned with; I'm just saying the guy's a comic genius.
Exuding a passion that lies somewhere between a latter day Jimmy Swaggert and Lonesome Rhodes, the proselytizing media star immortalized by Andy Griffith in Elia Kazan's 1957 classic film, A Face in the Crowd , Beck is one of the most compelling characters to ever captivate a television audience. Of course, he started on radio, first as a DJ in Connecticut and later as a syndicated talk host, one of Rush's brand of fright wing rabblerousers that have seized a wide swath of radio real estate in recent years. But television is the medium that truly captures Beck's unique talents: his tears, sobs, mock classroom struts, the kitsch visual aids including tote boards and an old fashioned blackboard at the ready for conspiracy theories and misspellings. And there are those facial contortions that can take his doughy puss from sincere to crazed in seconds flat.
So what if he shed sponsors like a house filled with Persian cats after his misconstrued comment, " I think President Obama is a racist. He has a deep hatred of white people?" People who fear him, people who worship him were either enraged or emboldened by that statement. But I know better. Beck is a gifted satirist. His comedy is so sophisticated, even a savvy media maven may be fooled at first. But watch him for several consecutive nights, and you'll become hooked on his nuanced comedy, too.
I'm sure Beck was filled with shock and awe to discover his frantic faux ravings helped oust former Green Jobs Czar Van Jones and demote NEA Communications Director Yoshi Sargeant to a back room giglet. He must have been flabbergasted to find thousands storm the Capitol for his parody 9/12 Project protest rally last Saturday. The fact that he didn't show himself is proof of his comic intentions. I'm sure he was amused to see such a diverse crowd( the thousands he'd later comically count as millions) actually comply with his secret double probation instructions to show up with misspelled jibes and threats splattered across placards.
Not since Soupy Sales told kids to swipe money out of their parents' wallets and send it to him back in the '60's has a media personality so affected his audience. Okay, Jerry Falwell outed, then nearly blacklisted Tinky Winky, the purple, purse-toting teletubbie back in the '90's, but the less said about that ugly incident, the better.
I have friends who flat out refuse to watch Beck, insisting their heads would spin uncontrollably, and wherever she is, poor Linda Blair would start spewing nostalgic pea soup. And I must admit--especially since I tend to watch the late night re-broadcast--as I drift into slumber my dreams have become very strange. In one I'm dining on a lunch of Chicken Kiev and Smirnoff vodka shots with Michelle Obama in the middle of Rockefeller Center while Karl Marx and Keith Olbermann wander about affixing hammers and sickles to all the paintings, statues and tourists.
If you're not careful Beck's deadpan paranoia can creep into your waking life, too.I found myself roaming the aisles of Stop & Shop the other day finding symbols of propaganda everywhere I looked. I could have sworn the Trix cereal rabbit was luring kids into a life of prostitution(with kickbacks going to embattled organizers at Acorn); everyone would know Froot Loops was pushing a gay agenda; and who couldn't see Count Chocula was indoctrinating kids into the New Black Panther Party while promoting necrophilia as a legitimate alternative lifestyle?
I became slightly hysterical(a condition very similar to a little bit pregnant) when I discovered Russian dressing was on sale, a clear sign of a communist plot to clog American arteries as it was brimming with more fat, cholesterol and calories than the healthier, higher priced low-fat Ranch, which symbolizes the freedom of the American west.
Flushed with fever, I fell to my knees before a display of Arm & Hammer Baking Soda. The logo on every box surely signifies a socialist stampede against every kitchen and laundry room in America. Then I broke out into a rash-- a very RED rash--when it dawned on me: these people also make toothpaste. That's right, there is a socialist, communist, fascist conspiracy to capture very American mouth! And all I could do was wait until five o'clock to turn on the TV and hear that great American communicator, that national treasure make sense of It all.
Okay, so maybe I overindulged a bit. Like with most things in life, a little Glenn Beck goes a long way. Moderation, my friend, moderation. But miss the Beck spectacle at your own peril, America. As the maestro of mind control would say, we have to grab the wheel of liberty before the paradigm shifts. And there's nothing left to watch but Rachel Ray and that ShamWow guy.
Insomniacs will long for the good old days when infomercial diet Guru Susan Powter's shrill plea to " stop the insanity!" pulsated throughout the land.
Drive safe. Play, nice. Think peace.