Reviewing the literary output of Glenn Beck
July 6, 2011 1:19 PM   Subscribe

Magicland. The Los Angeles Review of Books examines the literary output of Glen Beck.

Beck could not have pulled off his transformation from self-described “recovering dirtbag” to weeping TV star without two critical elements: sobriety and religion. Probably he realized that he needed help that day in Baltimore when he was arrested for driving while intoxicated with one of the doors on his DeLorean hanging open. Beck has said that soon after, in 1994, he considered suicide. Instead he found AA and Tania, his second wife, whom he married in 1999. It was she who insisted that together they pick and embrace a church. Though raised Catholic, Beck chose another religion, one that has worked hard to pave the bumpy road in the valley between Jesus’s love of the poor and the American love of money. Mormonism, the fourth largest church in the country, is also the religion of American exceptionalism, the idea (or feeling) of preordained superiority that constitutes the Tea Party’s principle underlying tenet. Church founder and charismatic leader Joseph Smith was the most extraordinary promoter of American exceptionalism who ever lived: he believed that Adam and Eve were born in Jackson County, Missouri.
posted by Ghostride The Whip (61 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
I think naming his first fiction book after the rhetorical principle that underpins his noxiousness has to win some kind of award for chutzpah.
posted by Rhaomi at 1:27 PM on July 6, 2011 [7 favorites]


I'm not sure why I have such a distaste for "literary" here. It's not like there is a better word on offer... "vernaculary"?
posted by BrotherCaine at 1:30 PM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's "Glenn" Beck.
posted by mrnutty at 1:31 PM on July 6, 2011


I think naming his first fiction book after the rhetorical principle that underpins his noxiousness

Second fiction book.
posted by Jahaza at 1:33 PM on July 6, 2011


It's "Glenn" Beck.

The extra 'n' is for 'nut'.
posted by mazola at 1:35 PM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think the best thing one could get from examining Beck's output is determining the LD50 thresholds.
posted by FatherDagon at 1:48 PM on July 6, 2011 [5 favorites]


He claims that once he started the book, the sweater took over, “almost as if my sweater wanted its story told,” and indeed the book reads like it might have been written by a sweater.

Right up in YOUR FACE.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:49 PM on July 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


The Los Angeles Review of Books examines the literary output of Glen Beck.

Don't tread here on us, you fancy bastard!

In this here, America, its spelled "d-i-a-r-r-h-e-a" not "o-u-t-p-u-t".
posted by hal_c_on at 1:51 PM on July 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'll add more poop and Ns next time, promise!
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 1:58 PM on July 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


when he was arrested for driving while intoxicated with one of the doors on his DeLorean hanging open

What an idiot. Everybody knows DeLoreans can't fly unless you have both doors open.
posted by The World Famous at 1:59 PM on July 6, 2011 [15 favorites]


Yeah, calling Glenn Beck's written drivel "literary output" is like equating "artistic output" with the poop your dog poops after it eats some crayons.
posted by elizardbits at 2:00 PM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Goddammit, elizardbits, how many times do I have to tell you to stop hanging around my studio.
posted by griphus at 2:02 PM on July 6, 2011 [5 favorites]


when he was arrested for driving while intoxicated with one of the doors on his DeLorean hanging open

God...I love that he drove a DeLorean.

QUICK! WE HAVE TO GET THIS BABY OVER 88 ELSE WE'RE NOT GOING TO BE ABLE TO HOP THE OVERTON WINDOW!

*kshhhhKOW*
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 2:02 PM on July 6, 2011 [8 favorites]


Probably he realized that he needed help that day in Baltimore when he was arrested for driving while intoxicated with one of the doors on his DeLorean hanging open.

...

This is how I'd start the beginning of my movie called "The Douche Bag".
posted by hal_c_on at 2:07 PM on July 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


I encourage people to actually read the article, but for those who don't: This anecdote serves as the ultimate metaphor for Beck and his followers:

The undisputed high point of Beck’s tenure in Baltimore was an elaborate prank built around a nonexistent theme park. The idea was to run a promotional campaign for the fictional grand opening of the world’s first air-conditioned underground amusement park, called Magicland. According to Beck and Gray, it was being completed just outside Baltimore. During the build-up, the two created an intricate and convincing radio world of theme-park jingles and promotions, which were rolled out in a slow buildup to the nonexistent park’s grand opening… On the day Magicland was supposed to throw open its air-conditioned doors, Beck and Gray took calls from enraged listeners who tried to find the park and failed. Among the disappointed and enraged was a woman who had canceled a no-refund cruise to attend the event. “They never told a soul what they were doing,” says Sean Hall, the B104 newsreader. “People just drove around in circles on the beltway for hours trying to find the place.”
posted by Think_Long at 2:08 PM on July 6, 2011 [6 favorites]


Some excerpts from the Overton Window, co. koeselitz.
posted by griphus at 2:08 PM on July 6, 2011


Beck has published nine books since 2008, only two of which have been packaged as fiction.

Thank you for that sentence.
posted by middleclasstool at 2:09 PM on July 6, 2011 [11 favorites]


The Christmas Sweater.

Man, that fucking title gets me every time.
posted by box at 2:11 PM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


sobriety and religion.

Ugh. No wonder I can't get on board with his message; it's just two more reasons to dislike and mistrust him.
posted by quin at 2:15 PM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


sobriety and religion.

Ugh. No wonder I can't get on board with his message; it's just two more reasons to dislike and mistrust him.


So, I really hate Glenn Beck. But I have to ask: Why is sobriety a reason to dislike and mistrust someone?
posted by The World Famous at 2:16 PM on July 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


During the build-up, the two created an intricate and convincing radio world of theme-park jingles and promotions, which were rolled out in a slow buildup to the nonexistent park’s grand opening…

Wait a minute... wasn't this exactly how Fox got us into Iraq?
posted by quin at 2:17 PM on July 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


It's just a joke. It implies they are not fun and again, is probably just a joke. The sober religious guy will never be down at Senor Tadpoles having a margarita made in his mouth.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 2:18 PM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


...down at Senor Tadpoles having a margarita made in his mouth.

Speaking of having things explained to you, for the longest time I thought this Arrested Development line was just a not-particularly-subtle reference to fellatio until someone explained that this is a thing that happens in the real world.
posted by griphus at 2:23 PM on July 6, 2011 [14 favorites]


Why is sobriety a reason to dislike and mistrust someone?

Nothing more than me making a stupid and unfunny joke. He went from a clown to a Fox news prophet based on his sobriety, and yet, even in my most inebriated moments I haven't come up with half the off the wall shit he has when sober.

My guess is that he was less dangerous to the world at large when he drank.

posted by quin at 2:23 PM on July 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


I also like the line about Beck's supposedly degenerating health condition leading to the loss of sight: "our future blind prophet".
posted by Think_Long at 2:26 PM on July 6, 2011


You never give crazy a book deal.
posted by Zozo at 2:28 PM on July 6, 2011


I was wondering why he brought up Jonestown, or went into such detail about Mormonism, but then he brought out the perfect Beck-ian bit: I’m not equating him with Hitler, mind you, or Joe Smith or Jim Jones. I’m just trying to understand my own compulsion.
posted by Xoder at 2:28 PM on July 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


I also like the line about Beck's supposedly degenerating health condition leading to the loss of sight: "our future blind prophet".

Tiresias = Tiring Ass.
posted by joe lisboa at 2:30 PM on July 6, 2011


You never give crazy a book deal.

Unless you want to make a prophet (sic).
posted by joe lisboa at 2:31 PM on July 6, 2011 [5 favorites]


Wait a minute... wasn't this exactly how Fox got us into Iraq?

Or the New York Times for that matter. Shit journalism is much more rampant than the crazy ward at Fox.


I wish the article spent more time discussing his literary output. The horrendous fiction was nice, but slice and dice the semi-non-fiction for us. I want a train wreck, damn it.
posted by munchingzombie at 2:31 PM on July 6, 2011


The more I read about postmodernism, the more I realize that Republican ideologues are the best postmodernists there are. Beck is a master at it, intentional or not.
posted by codacorolla at 2:32 PM on July 6, 2011 [6 favorites]


but then he brought out the perfect Beck-ian bit

Yeah, that gave me a little laugh.
posted by eyeballkid at 2:33 PM on July 6, 2011


The more I read about postmodernism, the more I realize that Republican ideologues are the best postmodernists there are. Beck is a master at it, intentional or not.

Hence Karl Rove's jibe at the "reality based community."
posted by dismas at 2:44 PM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


I still believe in Magicland.
posted by perhapses at 2:46 PM on July 6, 2011


why
posted by cjorgensen at 2:48 PM on July 6, 2011


I thought this Arrested Development line was just a not-particularly-subtle reference to fellatio until someone explained that this is a thing that happens in the real world.

And fellatio isn't?
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 3:01 PM on July 6, 2011


The Los Angeles Review of Books examines the literary output of Glen Beck's ghost writers. Or did it? Does the piece mention the fact that "Overton Window's" credited assistant had previously written a book with a near-identical plot but differently politcally-aligned characters? If not, it's not worth reading.

You never give crazy a book deal.

Many of the greatest works of fiction (and a few of non-fiction) were authored by people we can impartially call 'crazy'. It's faux-crazy that doesn't deserve a book deal.
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:06 PM on July 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


The undisputed high point of Beck’s tenure in Baltimore was an elaborate prank built around a nonexistent theme park. The idea was to run a promotional campaign for the fictional grand opening of the world’s first air-conditioned underground amusement park, called Magicland. According to Beck and Gray, it was being completed just outside Baltimore. During the build-up, the two created an intricate and convincing radio world of theme-park jingles and promotions, which were rolled out in a slow buildup to the nonexistent park’s grand opening… On the day Magicland was supposed to throw open its air-conditioned doors, Beck and Gray took calls from enraged listeners who tried to find the park and failed. Among the disappointed and enraged was a woman who had canceled a no-refund cruise to attend the event. “They never told a soul what they were doing,” says Sean Hall, the B104 newsreader. “People just drove around in circles on the beltway for hours trying to find the place.”

Super. You have just forced me to admire Glenn Beck.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 3:08 PM on July 6, 2011 [9 favorites]


why

Because I've been there.
posted by perhapses at 3:12 PM on July 6, 2011


Does the piece mention the fact that "Overton Window's" credited assistant had previously written a book with a near-identical plot but differently politcally-aligned characters?

It does.
posted by box at 3:17 PM on July 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


That's a wonderfully well-written article, thank you for sharing it.
posted by chaz at 3:33 PM on July 6, 2011


Probably he realized that he needed help that day in Baltimore when he was arrested for driving while intoxicated with one of the doors on his DeLorean hanging open.

He has a time machine? We're fucked.
posted by brundlefly at 3:49 PM on July 6, 2011


He has a time machine? We're fucked.

That's what he's been telling us, man.
posted by The World Famous at 3:54 PM on July 6, 2011


One of the most unfortunate aspects of "born again" theology as practiced in the States is the fetishization of the Prodigal Son. It's like that pre-Kanye period of Rap when you didn't have the credibility to brag about your current bling unless you rapped about the time you spent hustling. Only now, it's that the more of an asshole you were pre-conversion, well the bigger "get" you are for God.

And once you cross that threshold, as long as you don't renounce your faith publicly, your two lives are bifurcated. What you do now is done as a God-fearing Christian. What you did then was the product of a life of evil. Even if it's the exact same pattern of behavior. Now, I'm not 100% opposed to the idea of renouncing one's former behavior and trying to make a clean break to be something better, but when supernatural concepts are applied to the "clean break" things can get messy. Beck is an example of that.
posted by Navelgazer at 4:01 PM on July 6, 2011 [8 favorites]


Now, I'm not 100% opposed to the idea of renouncing one's former behavior and trying to make a clean break to be something better

Are you even mostly opposed to this, if one's former behavior was bad, and if one is genuine in renouncing it?

I take your point otherwise, but for me, the point of concern would be if people actually behaved in a worse fashion because they were emulating the pre-converted. It doesn't strike me that this is anywhere near as prevalent as folks glamorizing the forever-lost, damned sinner.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 4:14 PM on July 6, 2011


It's not like there is a better word on offer... "vernaculary"?

They have a word for that, you know. ("Trash" specifically in the sense of being trashy writing.)
posted by kenko at 4:21 PM on July 6, 2011


posted by Clyde Mnestra at 4:14 PM on July 6 [+] [!]

Clever. Post more.
posted by hal_c_on at 5:10 PM on July 6, 2011


You never always give crazy a book deal.

FTFY.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 5:17 PM on July 6, 2011


principle underlying tenet

No editors at this august organ?
posted by Wolof at 5:18 PM on July 6, 2011


Even without encouragement, I did start to read the article. Some way into it, I realized two things:

* The author is way over-thinking that plate of beans.

* Those aren't beans.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:48 PM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


The beck stops here.
posted by twoleftfeet at 7:19 PM on July 6, 2011


Clyde Mnestra - it's not about reforming, but of breaking entirely from one's previous life as if it no longer belongs to them.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:08 PM on July 6, 2011


driving while intoxicated with one of the doors on his DeLorean hanging open

Didn't that also happen to Troy McClure? "These guys are all over the road!"
posted by Servo5678 at 5:01 AM on July 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


I share the author's weird compulsion to watch GB. Tele-evangelists too.
Great article, thanks.
posted by beau jackson at 6:22 AM on July 7, 2011


Why are born-agains always ex-drunks? Is AA some kind of New World Order training camp?
posted by Mooseli at 6:26 AM on July 7, 2011


Clyde Mnestra - it's not about reforming, but of breaking entirely from one's previous life as if it no longer belongs to them.

I guess. Of course, they are owning it insofar as it is a vital part of their personal narrative, however much they divide themselves into (e.g.) "Beck beta" and "Beck prime."

Also, while you or I may fight that self-narrative, it is socially valuable, insofar as its apparent social acceptability causes prior n'er-do-wells to reveal their misdeeds so that level-headed folk can learn of them and stay the hell away from both versions. It's a Beckian briar patch.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 6:56 AM on July 7, 2011


Why are born-agains always ex-drunks?

People who convert in adulthood are often looking for a clean break. It could be from addictions. It could be from a general feeling of unease that before "I wasn't living 'right'". Feeling that you have a second chance is a great psychological tool to allow yourself to move forward without being burdened by guilt about the past.

Being part of a religious community give you a new horse to ride on. Unfortunately, many belief systems come with some horrible baggage (i.e. homophobia, closed-mindedness, condescension to those outside your belief system).
posted by beau jackson at 7:39 AM on July 7, 2011


I was wondering why he brought up Jonestown, or went into such detail about Mormonism, but then he brought out the perfect Beck-ian bit: I’m not equating him with Hitler, mind you, or Joe Smith or Jim Jones. I’m just trying to understand my own compulsion.

Laurie Winer, author of the article, is a woman.

I can't believe, to be honest, that she wrote so harshly about Mormonism ("Mormonism is a strange faith for a fully-grown person to choose" and "No powerful institution comes into being without some mayhem, but 'quirky' and 'wacky' do not suffice," among other statements). Mormons are pretty big in my area of Southern California and criticizing the Mormon church would be a great way not to get your article published and offend your friendly colleague next cube over as well.

The article's great (a lot of good zingers already mentioned in this thread) but I was definitely shocked--not appalled, shocked--by that part of the article.
posted by librarylis at 8:34 AM on July 7, 2011


Why are born-agains always ex-drunks?

Some people I've known have seemed to just switch one addiction or obsession for another. I don't know much about the phenomenon, but isn't that what people call a "dry drunk"? Someone who isn't drinking any more but still acts like an addict in some ways?
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 9:22 AM on July 7, 2011


Mormons are pretty big in my area of Southern California and criticizing the Mormon church would be a great way not to get your article published and offend your friendly colleague next cube over as well.

My take on that, as a Southern California Mormon who works in a professional environment, is that most educated, professional, adult Mormons are quite weary of the sort of half-researched, poorly-presented, unfair bullshit that appears in that article and we either assume that anyone with half a brain will also recognize at least some of the bullshit nature of the assertions or we're too tired of dealing with it to put much effort into caring. Add to that the fact that educated, adult Mormons in most circumstances are sick and tired of having anything in common with Glenn Beck and you get a situation where we just don't have the energy to muster much outrage.
posted by The World Famous at 9:57 AM on July 7, 2011


He claims that once he started the book, the sweater took over, “almost as if my sweater wanted its story told,” and indeed the book reads like it might have been written by a sweater.

Best quote of the article.
posted by Apocryphon at 9:28 PM on July 7, 2011


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