By Kyle | July 10, 2011
Laura Ingraham has already hit the top of the bestseller list a couple of times with conservative polemics, but this time she steps back a bit into nonpartisan humorous takes on the culture with “Of Thee I Zing.” In my Sunday column I chat with Laura, a single mom of three adopted kids, about who we are and how we got here.
By Kyle | March 13, 2011
In my Sunday column, I talk to the conservative Borat, James O’Keefe (whose other avatars include Saul Alinsky and Hunter S. Thompson) and wonder what is next for the bright young man whose antics have shaken NPR.
By Kyle | March 9, 2011
Conservative activist James O’Keefe has taken down NPR’s CEO Vivian Schiller. Amazing. Now — if, say, a left-wing journalist using a sting operation managed to secure the downfall of the chief of a right-wing news organization, that journalist would obviously be buried with awards, given huge book deals, maybe his or her own TV show, turned into a folk legend a la Woodward and Bernstein. Right?
By Kyle | May 5, 2009
This is someone who has fallen into the category of fomenting hatred, of such extreme views and expressing them in such a way that it is actually likely to cause inter-community tension or even violence if that person were allowed into the country,” Ms Smith told BBC Breakfast.
Is she talking about Yusuf “Cat Stevens” Islam (who is so proud of his faith he is now going by the name Yusuf) who supported the fatwa against Salman Rushdie? No, she is talking about radio host Michael Savage, who according to The Indy over in London shares a place on a least-wanted list with neo-Nazis, KKK types and Islamist terrorists/murderers. Has the UK learned nothing from the absurd Canadian Follies of the Mark Steyn trial? Britain, of course, has no First Amendment, which if all other things were equal would prove its basic inferiority to the USA.
By jic | October 31, 2008
I still don’t find him remotely funny. In fact, I find him tiresome. But his imbecilic antics with the ever more embarrassing talk show host and film critic Jonathan Ross are causing the BBC to be held to account, something that doesn’t happen anywhere near often enough:
The BBC attempted last night to draw the poison from another calamitous week by taking the unprecedented step of banning its highest paid star for three months, and accepting the resignation of one of its most senior and best-loved executives.
The corporation suspended Jonathan Ross for 12 weeks without pay, calling his behaviour “utterly unacceptable”, a move which effectively fines him £1.3m.
Mark Thompson, the director general, hopes the sanction will end the crisis, but some inside the BBC were lamenting the fact it was Radio 2’s controller Lesley Douglas who was forced to carry the can for a lewd prank phone call by Ross and Russell Brand, who quit on Wednesday.
It’s just a shame that the massive public and political outcry was caused by a pair of buffoons, and not the decades of all-pervasive left-liberal bias.
By Kyle | June 24, 2008
I’ve just listened to the (audio) clip of Don Imus’s remarks about Adam “Pacman” Jones, the talented but wayward former Tennessee Titans cornerback who has yet to play a game for the Dallas Cowboys. Jones, who is black, is not going to win Sportsman of the Year anytime soon. But Imus was actually defending Jones in this clip. Imus, told about a nightclub shooting Jones was involved in, defends it, saying it’s no big deal (“Stuff happens“), then learns that Jones has been arrested six times, then asks what color Jones is and replies, “There you go.” This is Imus bending over backwards not to be racist; he’s trying to sound as much like Al Sharpton as he possibly can. The meaning is that Jones is being repeatedly, unjustly persecuted. The example of the kind of thing he’s been arrested for was not (to Imus) much of a crime to begin with. Picture Sharpton in this argument: would it have been surprising if Sharpton, learning that a man had been arrested six times and was black, replied, “There you go”?
I’m no fan of the I-man. I listened to him for a few months in the early 90s and thought he was a bore. (Then I switched to Howard Stern for a decade until my girlfriend made me stop.) He’s blustering without being funny. He appears to hold a job solely because of the authoritative register of his voice. But I doubt he’s a racist. All of the journalists who are joining the Imus-is-a-racist gang are not doing themselves any favors. Journalists appear on talk shows and say unscripted things. The same people trying to take Imus down now can also be ruined by having non-racist (if anything, pro-black) comments quoted out of context.
By Kyle | August 20, 2007
We are drowning in a sea of quirk, says the astute Michael Hirschorn in the Atlantic, who draws a bead on the way unbearably cute alterna-culture often doesn’t dare to actually say much of anything:
Quirk, loosed from its moorings, quickly becomes exhausting. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s easy for David CrossÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s character on Arrested Development to cover himself in paint for a Blue Man Group audition, or for the New Zealand duo on Flight of the Conchords to make a spectacularly cheesy sci-fi video about the future while wearing low-rent robot costumes. But the pleasures are passing. Like the proliferation of meta-humor that followed David Letterman and Jerry Seinfeld in the Ã¢â‚¬â„¢90s, quirk is everywhere because quirkiness is so easy to achieve: Just be odd Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ but endearing. It becomes a kind of psychographic marker, like wearing laceless Chuck Taylors or ironic facial hairÃ¢â‚¬â€a self-satisfied pose that stands for nothing and doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t require you to take creative responsibility. Just because you can doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t mean you should.
ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s harder to construct a coherent universe that has something to say about contemporary life. This is why Judd ApatowÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s almost 100 percent quirk-free summer comedy, Knocked Up, packs such a punch. Its characters face real peril, show real anguish, and have genuine epiphanies. The comedy, at times so funny itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s painful, finds its potency in the absurdity of maleness, femaleness, singleness, married life. It dares to matter.
Quirk culture, by contrast, throws up its hands, gives a little chuckle, and says, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Well, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s This American Life.Ã¢â‚¬Â