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The O'Reilly Procedure
June 23, 2009 1:30 PM   Subscribe

The O'Reilly Procedure Roger Ebert waxes nostalgic about a calmer, more rational mediasphere and dissects the rhetorical strategies of Bill O'Reilly.

"Sometimes O'Reilly is compared with Father Coughlin, a popular far-right radio commentator in the 1930s who fanned the flames against Roosevelt and warned about immigration and "foreigners," by which it was understood he meant primarily Jews. O'Reilly objects to such a comparison, and certainly there is no reason to consider him anti-Semitic.

But a team of media researchers at Indiana University studied every editorial broadcast by O'Reilly during a six-month period and found a similar nativist cast."
posted by mecran01 (90 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
A non-Facebook link.

Previously. But good enough that it deserves a FPP.
posted by hippybear at 1:35 PM on June 23, 2009


Roger Ebert is a national treasure.
posted by zardoz at 1:36 PM on June 23, 2009 [11 favorites]


Roger Ebert is a national treasure.

No, that was Nicolas Cage, oh you said a national treasure.
posted by Pollomacho at 1:39 PM on June 23, 2009


"Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" is a horrible experience of unbearable length, briefly punctuated by three or four amusing moments.
posted by Joe Beese at 1:42 PM on June 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


[fixed the link, carry on]
posted by jessamyn at 1:44 PM on June 23, 2009


Can anybody else literally not last 30 full seconds watching Bill O'Reilly talk? It wouldn't even matter what he's saying. He's just incredibly loathsome.
posted by rusty at 1:45 PM on June 23, 2009 [9 favorites]


"If you want to save yourself the ticket price, go into the kitchen, cue up a male choir singing the music of hell, and get a kid to start banging pots and pans together. Then close your eyes and use your imagination." —Roger Ebert

That's the best part right there.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 1:45 PM on June 23, 2009


Just to clarify, Senor Cardgage is quoting Ebert on "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen." The same technique could be applied to Bill O'Reilly, though.
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:48 PM on June 23, 2009 [11 favorites]


I find him so distasteful I start squirming uncomfortably and have to look away- I think it might have to do with how he's vehemently arguing something that's just logically wrong.
posted by dunkadunc at 1:49 PM on June 23, 2009


"Rachel Maddow provides an admirable example for the boys of firm, passionate outrage, and is more effective for nogt shouting."

I'm not a big fan of pundits of any political stripe, but I must say I do admire Maddow's nogt shouting as second only to Inuit throat singing or Theravada chanting.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:52 PM on June 23, 2009 [9 favorites]


damn Smedleyman, you made me google "nogt shouting" so I wouldn't look like an idiot when I asked why you typed in twice :-)
posted by sineater at 1:54 PM on June 23, 2009


(instead I look like an idiot for typing "in" instead of "it")
posted by sineater at 1:55 PM on June 23, 2009


He totally activates the fight or flight response in me. I suspect that that's because, like Ebert pointed out, he's a bully. I had to figure out how to stand up to bullies at some point and it got physical.

Which leaves me with the distinct desire to pop him one in the mouth. I'm sure I'm not alone in this.
posted by lumpenprole at 1:56 PM on June 23, 2009 [4 favorites]


Roger Ebert is a national treasure.

Zardoz, that's exactly what I was going to say. Because it's a cliche? But also because it's true.
posted by moxiedoll at 1:56 PM on June 23, 2009


Here is a interesting mashup of O'Reilly's response to the Indiana University study.
posted by twoleftfeet at 1:57 PM on June 23, 2009


And you know (although I wouldn't call him evil like O'Reilley) I'm starting to find Olbermann's "outrage" schtick to be too much. You can only say "How dare you, sir" so many times before it starts to grate- even if I agree. I might be the choir but I don't like being preached at.
posted by dunkadunc at 1:59 PM on June 23, 2009 [14 favorites]


I traveled to Massachusetts and bought the Boston Herald on Sunday. There was a Bill O'Reilly column in it. The premise was that libruls are small in numbers and isolated in the Northeast and fucking evil. Was that because Bill O'Reilly is a -ouch-b-g ------ -------- or because The Herald is a knee-jerk mouthpiece for clueless right-wing je--s? Does he even write that sh-- himself?
posted by longsleeves at 2:00 PM on June 23, 2009


The problem is that anyone who watches Bill O'Reilly will never read that piece. Or they will get one paragraph in, get so furious that they yell at the screen/page, and never finish.

What frustrates me is that once somebody like O'Reilly gets into your headspace, they isolate you so much with hate, rage and fear that there is no coming back from the O'Reilly mindset because it destroys the ability to accept any other opinion.

It is, honestly, freaky. I've tried talking to relatives and friends of friends who espouse this stuff, staying calm, being friendly, and keeping it light. But as soon as something that contradicts the worldview pops up, I get a -- sometimes equally friendly, equally calm -- "oh, you're one of those liberals," and then all rational conversation stops. When pressed, we end up with them screaming pretty darn quick.

People try to make the false equivalency that people on my side of the political fence do the same thing -- you see it here sometimes with huffy Freepers yelling "echo chamber!" but I honestly don't find it. I think I'm right, and as somebody that's pretty sure I'm right, I'm willing to calmly, happily discuss the facts until I'm blue in the face. Sometimes, this arrives at the point where I have to agree to disagree with somebody about fairly fundamental stuff, like our obligations towards our fellow humans, the Golden Rule and what it means, etc.

Usually, it ends with somebody yelling that I just don't get it and storming off.
posted by Shepherd at 2:01 PM on June 23, 2009 [18 favorites]


I don't bother watching that guy or anything on Fox, though for straight news they are not bad, but high up on my list of unwatchable folks: Lou Dobbs. he finds fault with all things and offers nary a solution to anything. I suspect that he is related to Glenn Beck, though which is more odious is a tough call.
posted by Postroad at 2:06 PM on June 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


I remain angered that he credited his notorious "fuck it; I'll do it live" on his Irish ancestory. I'm Irish American and have never behaved like that. Hey, thanks guy for insisting that unprofessionalism and abusiveness is somehow endemic to the Irish character.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:06 PM on June 23, 2009 [16 favorites]


Actually, I find O'Reilly is, for me, the opposite of Art Bell. I enjoyed the craziness on Bell's show, the straight out kookiness of some of the callers. And although it was nutty, there wasn't the sort of derisive and abrasive attitude that so many people seem to find appealing.
That's what's scary. It doesn't matter as much what O'Reilly is saying, although I grant it does matter, as much as how he's putting it off and how indicative he is of the greater information environment many of us are forced to swim in, contend with or, in some cases, wallow.

I mean Bell's stuff was just nuts. You'd have folks saying they probed Area 51 while astral traveling and swear up and down that it wasn't the Orians who were there, but in fact, the Zeta Reticuli (who we all know, the guy would say are the Grays) who, though evil, were working against the Reptoids in a 3 way war with the subterranean Nazi super race (the Nords, from the Pleiades) who were not at Area 51 but at Homestead Air Force Base, etc. etc. And the subject matter would go on like that- but! It was all pretty friendly and easy going and so, sorta fun to listen to.
O'Reilly could be talking about puppy dogs and ice cream, it'd still be grating and combative and looking for a scapegoat. Whole different kind of snake oil medicine show.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:11 PM on June 23, 2009 [9 favorites]


And, I'll add, doesn't let O'Reilly (et.al.) off the hook as 'entertainment.'
posted by Smedleyman at 2:14 PM on June 23, 2009



I remain angered that he credited his notorious "fuck it; I'll do it live" on his Irish ancestory. I'm Irish American and have never behaved like that. Hey, thanks guy for insisting that unprofessionalism and abusiveness is somehow endemic to the Irish character.


Wow, you're touchy about your Irishness. Settle down and have a whiskey.
posted by Liquidwolf at 2:17 PM on June 23, 2009 [12 favorites]


Can we have more Ebert movie review quotes? Those are good.
posted by swift at 2:17 PM on June 23, 2009


Wow, you're touchy about your Irishness. Settle down and have a whiskey.

Don't have to ask me twice!
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:20 PM on June 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Also quoting from Ebert's Transformers review:

"They also make speeches like this one by John Turturro: "Oh, no! The machine is buried in the pyramid! If they turn it on, it will destroy the sun! Not on my watch!"

*thinks back to Barton Fink, Do The Right Thing, Miller's Crossing, The Big Lebowski, Clockers*
*weeps*

posted by The Card Cheat at 2:23 PM on June 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


Seconding dunkadunc re:olbermann. During the Bush years, I found Olbermann one of the only newscasts that made me feel there was a reality out there to be lived in other than the Fox Noise one. But, now, I find I don't "need" MSNBC; when I watch it, it just seems a bit of overacting. (Don't watch Rachel Maddow regularly, so I am not talking about her.)

My personal experience is that it is a waste of time to try to communicate about politics with someone who watches Fox regularly. They seem impervious to facts and if facts don't change your opinion, what will? (It is a signalling device for me; if I hear them talking about O'Reilly, Beck, or Hannity, I automatically know "this is clearly someone who I cannot talk with about politics.)
posted by wittgenstein at 2:25 PM on June 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


Can we have more Ebert movie review quotes? Those are good.

How's this one: "A depressing number of people seem to process everything literally. They are to wit as a blind man is to a forest, able to find every tree, but each one coming as a surprise."

Could also apply quite well to the present subject of discussion...
posted by Aversion Therapy at 2:25 PM on June 23, 2009 [4 favorites]


I like Bill O'Reilly. He's the white, male Oprah, if Oprah was a devil on my shoulder and a bit of a tweaker. Also, without him, there would be no Colbert Report. So, in summary-

*mic is cut off*
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:26 PM on June 23, 2009 [7 favorites]


I regret that the study decided to describe it as "name-calling", since as O'Reilly points out (and my blood runs cold at the thought of agreeing with him) the things they're counting as "name-calling" really aren't. It still numerically demonstrates how his show is a disgusting humorless parody of political discourse, but it's also a little disingenuous.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 2:26 PM on June 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Can we have more Ebert movie review quotes? Those are good.

Sure! Here's a favorite, from his review of Freddy Got Fingered:

"This movie doesn't scrape the bottom of the barrel. This movie isn't the bottom of the barrel. This movie isn't below the bottom of the barrel. This movie doesn't deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence with barrels."
posted by Skot at 2:34 PM on June 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


Ooh, ooh, even better, from his review of the movie Elephant. Excellent, and approrpiate:

Let me tell you a story. The day after Columbine, I was interviewed for the Tom Brokaw news program. The reporter had been assigned a theory and was seeking sound bites to support it. "Wouldn't you say," she asked, "that killings like this are influenced by violent movies?" No, I said, I wouldn't say that. "But what about Basketball Diaries?" she asked. "Doesn't that have a scene of a boy walking into a school with a machine gun?" The obscure 1995 Leonardo Di Caprio movie did indeed have a brief fantasy scene of that nature, I said, but the movie failed at the box office (it grossed only $2.5 million), and it's unlikely the Columbine killers saw it. The reporter looked disappointed, so I offered her my theory. "Events like this," I said, "if they are influenced by anything, are influenced by news programs like your own. When an unbalanced kid walks into a school and starts shooting, it becomes a major media event. Cable news drops ordinary programming and goes around the clock with it. The story is assigned a logo and a theme song; these two kids were packaged as the Trench Coat Mafia. The message is clear to other disturbed kids around the country: If I shoot up my school, I can be famous. The TV will talk about nothing else but me. Experts will try to figure out what I was thinking. The kids and teachers at school will see they shouldn't have messed with me. I'll go out in a blaze of glory."

In short, I said, events like Columbine are influenced far less by violent movies than by CNN, the NBC Nightly News and all the other news media, who glorify the killers in the guise of "explaining" them. I commended the policy at the Sun-Times, where our editor said the paper would no longer feature school killings on Page 1. The reporter thanked me and turned off the camera. Of course the interview was never used. They found plenty of talking heads to condemn violent movies, and everybody was happy.

* Roger Ebert, Review of Elephant
posted by Aversion Therapy at 2:35 PM on June 23, 2009 [42 favorites]


Ebert's blog is full of great entries, though it's had some technical issues in the recent past where articles would get mixed up, but I think it's fixed now. Some of my favorites:
How I Believe in God
I feel good! I knew that I would!
All by ourselves alone

The comments are usually worth reading too, though I have to admit I haven't gone through all of the sometimes hundreds of lengthy detailed comments the more popular entries can have.
posted by kmz at 2:35 PM on June 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


One of the few redeeming things about Michael Bay's filmmaking career is that it produces some of Roger Ebert's funniest lines:

Armageddon:

Staggering into the silence of the theater lobby after the ordeal was over, I found a big poster that was fresh off the presses with the quotes of junket blurbsters. ``It will obliterate your senses!'' reports David Gillin, who obviously writes autobiographically. ``It will suck the air right out of your lungs!'' vows Diane Kaminsky.

If it does, consider it a mercy killing.


Pearl Harbor:

The film has been directed without grace, vision, or originality, and although you may walk out quoting lines of dialog, it will not be because you admire them.

Bad Boys II:

The heroes of "Bad Boys II" are egotistical monsters, concerned only with their power, their one-liners, their weapons, their cars, their desires. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that characters who wipe out a village can also make cruel jokes at the expense of a kid on his first date. Everybody involved in this project needs to do some community service.
posted by Ndwright at 2:41 PM on June 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


"There are many great-looking babes in the film, who are made up to a flawless perfection and look just like real women, if you are a junior fanboy whose experience of the gender is limited to lad magazines."

Again, from Transformers. He described the robots themselves as "dumber than a box of staples"
posted by jessamyn at 2:43 PM on June 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


My favorite Ebert quote:

"Pearl Harbor" is a two-hour movie squeezed into three hours, about how on Dec. 7, 1941, the Japanese staged a surprise attack on an American love triangle.
posted by brundlefly at 2:44 PM on June 23, 2009 [20 favorites]


O'Reilly is a petulant child. Physically, he grew up. Emotionally and intellectually, he's still a child. And no, I can't stand to watch him for as long as 30 seconds. Trying to paint him with the phrase 'fair and balanced' is akin to putting a bow on a turd and saying it smells nice. On the plus side, when he goes off the deep end and lurches a little closer to flat-out insanity, that makes good footage for Jon Stewart. And that's how I like to see O'Relilly: at his most laughably, ridiculously, insanely ignorant. Fortunately, that's a frequent occurrence.
posted by jamstigator at 2:54 PM on June 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't know. I find it difficult to take Bill O'Reilly seriously as anything but agitprop histrionics. As jamstigator says, watching him is like watching a child throw a tantrum.

It's interesting that Ebert is on this tear about shouting and screaming amongst the "angry men" of the media, because when O'Reilly shouts and bullies and turns off people's mics, it's hard to see him as anything but a buffoon. It's actually the "quieter" ones, the more "measured" ones, the ones who speak disingenuously and in what seem like careful tones, the ones who pretend to have read Tom Paine and who tour the countryside in fake breeches and waistcoats, who pretend to appeal to common sense and shared values, who are really scary. Limbaugh's that way. So is Mike Savage. So is Glenn Beck.
posted by blucevalo at 2:58 PM on June 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


And who the hell gave the right wing the waistcoat and breeches monopoly, anyway?
posted by dunkadunc at 3:07 PM on June 23, 2009


My favorite Ebert line is from his review of The Village: "To call it an anticlimax would be an insult not only to climaxes but to prefixes."

Actually, wait, my favorite Ebert line is "This is my happening and it freaks me out!" (I just watched Beyond the Valley of the Dolls for the first time the other day and I loved it. Damn but that movie has an awesome soundtrack.)

I met one of Bill O'Reilly's writers at a bar the other week. He was a liberal. He said that almost everyone who works for O'Reilly is a liberal. (O'Reilly works from New York, so who else is he gonna hire?) The guy justified his job by saying that O'Reilly's influence is massively overstated -- he only has a viewership of something like 2 million, which is nothing. I don't know if that's true or a good excuse, but there it is.
posted by painquale at 3:12 PM on June 23, 2009 [4 favorites]


That Transformers review is a classic. Chock-a-bloc full of goodness:

"They have tiny little heads, except for Starscream®, who is so ancient he has an aluminum beard."
posted by benzenedream at 3:13 PM on June 23, 2009


Ebert's review of End Of Days is particularly good:

Movies like this are particularly vulnerable to logic, and ``End of Days'' even has a little fun trying to sort out the reasoning behind the satanic timetable. When Jericho has the Millennium Eve timetable explained to him, including the requirement that the Prince of Darkness do his dirty deed precisely between 11 p.m. and midnight, he asks the very question I was asking myself: ``Eastern Standard Time?'' The answer, Jericho is told, is that the exact timing was meticulously worked out centuries ago by the Gregorian monks, and indeed their work on this project included, as a bonus spinoff, the invention of the Gregorian calendar.

Let's see. Rome is seven hours ahead of New York. In other words, those clever monks said, ``The baby will be conceived between 6 and 7 a.m. on Jan. 1, Rome time, but that will be between 11 p.m. and 12 a.m. in a city that does not yet exist, on a continent we have no knowledge of, assuming the world is round, and there are different times in different places as it revolves around the sun, which of course it would be a heresy to suggest.'' With headaches like this, no wonder they invented Gregorian chants to take the load off.


Okay, one more...this time, The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen:

As the car hurtles down the non-existent streets of Venice, enemy operatives stand shoulder-to-shoulder on the rooftops and fire at it with machineguns, leading us to hypothesize an enemy meeting at which the leader says, "Just in case they should arrive by submarine with a fast car which hasn't been invented yet, I want thousands of men to line the rooftops and fire at it, without hitting anything, of course."
posted by Stonewall Jackson at 3:21 PM on June 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


We better not give them monocles.

NO MONOCLES FOR YOU, BILL O'REILLY!
posted by dirigibleman at 3:24 PM on June 23, 2009


Apologies for the facebook link. That is mortifying. And thanks for doing the "more inside." Given that I haven't posted a link to the front page that hasn't required tweaking for about six months I think I'll take a little break now. That is all.

My favorite quote from the article:



How can one effect change? By sincere debate and friendly persuasion? O'Reilly sets the opposite example. He brings on guests who represent the "enemy," doesn't seriously engage their beliefs, and shouts: Be quiet! I'm right and you're wrong! I stand for good and you stand for evil! I'm not exaggerating. Sometimes those are the very words he uses.
posted by mecran01 at 3:34 PM on June 23, 2009


Previously. But good enough that it deserves a FPP.

Agreed. Good call.

Roger Ebert is a national treasure.

Hear, hear!
posted by homunculus at 3:43 PM on June 23, 2009


rusty : Can anybody else literally not last 30 full seconds watching Bill O'Reilly talk? It wouldn't even matter what he's saying. He's just incredibly loathsome.

I find that I'm critical of O'Reilly, and Beck, and Limbaugh pretty regularly, but I so rarely actually watch or listen to their stuff (I usually read the transcripts) that I felt like was being a little hypocritical. So a couple of weeks ago I clicked over to O'Reilly, and I honestly tried to have an open mind as I sat and watched it, but what he was saying was so full of half truths and vitriol that I just couldn't imagine giving him more than 10 minutes. Beck got less than 8 minutes before I turned it off.

Later that night, I tried again, drunk off my ass. Unfortunately, I didn't last any longer, and I had to turn it off when I realized that I was shouting at my TV.

These are vile people.

I don't say that lightly, I want to try to hear people with opposing points of view because they might have some piece of information that I don't which will change my mind; it's happened before, and I hope it will happen again. But these pundits are absolutely loathsome. They have no interest in trying to get me to understand, they want to keep their ratings up by speaking in coded phrases to their vicious fan-base, and then, inexplicably, playing the victim card when they are called on it.

I keep hoping that one of them will say something so over the top that the outrage it generates will finally be enough to get them kicked off the air, but it's become apparent to me that there is no too far with them. They can say anything and get away with it, and their viewers will defend them, and that will keep their advertisers ponying up money.

The whole thing quite frankly disgusts me.

Good article from Ebert though.
posted by quin at 3:43 PM on June 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


Bill O'Reilly is the perfect example of the mentality that feeling something strongly enough, yelling loud enough, and yelling over other people often enough, must be the same as being correct.

Under which logic, many people become one with God during sex, right?

Sadly, I think Bill has the wrong kind of fucking in mind.
posted by yeloson at 4:04 PM on June 23, 2009


Bill O'Reilly is a -ouch-b-g ------ --------

This has got to be the best Wheel of Fortune puzzle ever.
posted by DecemberBoy at 4:08 PM on June 23, 2009 [10 favorites]


Great piece. It's too bad Ebert can't review films that honestly anymore.
posted by Zambrano at 4:14 PM on June 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Stonewall Jackson, I really wish you had used the blockquote tag instead of small italic. It's hard to read. You did want me to read it, didn't you?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:21 PM on June 23, 2009


His transformers review from today is pretty excellent.
posted by empath at 4:38 PM on June 23, 2009


Has any O'Reilly guest ever tried to present stipulations for their appearance on his show? Cause that's the only way I'd agree to go on if I were in their shoes. Like, "If you shut my microphone off before the segment is up, you must personally donate a million dollars to the Democratic party."

That'd be sweet. I would consider watching that as a youtube clip a few weeks after it aired.
posted by dogwalker at 4:49 PM on June 23, 2009


Quin: eight minutes! I think that exceeds my total all-time O'Reilly viewing.

Oddly enough though, I have listened to Limbaugh a fair amount. I used to listen to him while doing menial labor during the Clinton years. And while his politics are disagreeable to me, he is at least capable of being witty and entertaining, or at least was back then. That may make him worse -- demagogue as opposed to bully. But at least he's not an idiot.
posted by rusty at 4:50 PM on June 23, 2009


God bless you, Roger Ebert. I'm gonna miss the shit out of you.
posted by shmegegge at 4:57 PM on June 23, 2009


Ebert's doing a good job responding to the O'Reilly fans who are flooding the comments of that post. My favorite exchange:

Jeff: Roger, You should just except the fact that you are washed up and really never amounted to anything, You have not watched enough of Oreilly it seems, You can help but yell and scream when you see what this new clown of a president and his administration is doing, Face the facts and stop trying to deny all the problems, by the way , where is this peaceful and cival world you speak of ?? you need to get out of your penthouse more often pop's. wanda sikes wished rush limbaugh to die, garafalo thinks that anyone who disagree's with the left are nothing but a bunch of teabagging readnecks ? whay ? do you think that way. we are just against all tha craziness going on.

Ebert: I will be sure to except that fact.
posted by painquale at 5:06 PM on June 23, 2009 [27 favorites]


It's nice to see that Ebert is embracing the fact that, after some pretty nasty health problems, he might not have that much time left, so he's willing to let everything out. Behind the reviews, we're finding out the guy has some fascinating opinions on things beyond what he's been doing his whole life. It's a nice bonus that I agree with him. Still, nicely written, grasp of the English language, measured tone (touches of snark, but still, when presented with absurdities like the comment painquale quoted, what else can you do?), fantastic sense of humor.

We need more people like this.
posted by Ghidorah at 5:15 PM on June 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Actually, wait, my favorite Ebert line is "This is my happening and it freaks me out!" (I just watched Beyond the Valley of the Dolls for the first time the other day and I loved it. Damn but that movie has an awesome soundtrack.)"

You will drink the black sperm of my vengence, painquale!
posted by Diablevert at 5:22 PM on June 23, 2009


Wanda Sykes is clearly the spawn of Satan.
posted by blucevalo at 5:23 PM on June 23, 2009


And I except that Janeane Garofalo is Satan's handmaiden.
posted by blucevalo at 5:23 PM on June 23, 2009


Well, it would explain that movie. You know which one I mean.
posted by box at 6:02 PM on June 23, 2009


I never used to be a fan of Ebert - I used to do a zine about movies, and being an angry young geek I thought his and Siskel's thumbs were destroying any possibility of serious movie journalism. I still can't stand movie reviewing of that ilk, but in the last few years I've come to see what a talented writer - and a seemingly menschy guy - Ebert really is. Roger, I apologize.
posted by mgrichmond at 6:49 PM on June 23, 2009


Great piece. It's too bad Ebert can't review films that honestly anymore.

What do you mean? You may see what I see, that Ebert's movie reviews in the past decade or so have been surprisingly positive for some real stinkers.

Except for when I took exception, back in 1985 on At The Movies, when he and Siskel ripped Weird Science to shreds, calling it, IIRC, the worst film of that year. My 12-year-old self, having just watched the movie, thought Ebert was just a dumb old fogey who didn't know the first thing about movies. Weird Science was the shit, to a 12-year-old in 1985.

A few years ago I watched Weird Science again for the first time in maybe 20 years. If I strip out my sentimental nostalgia, I now realize that Ebert was right--it is a bad, bad movie.
posted by zardoz at 6:53 PM on June 23, 2009


You know, I'm glad Ebert is doing this kind of stuff, and think sharp analysis of just how O'Reilly operates is important, but the funniest part for those of us who remember Ebert's early years is that he regularly used some of the same scornful, yelling tactics on his show with Gene Siskel. He's come a long way since then, thank goodness, but it's difficult to see him call out the industry for using loaded terms and furious yelling because not doing so "would lose viewers" without remembering that he and Siskel pretty much made over-emoting to draw viewers one of their key strategies.
posted by mediareport at 7:19 PM on June 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


Can anybody else literally not last 30 full seconds watching Bill O'Reilly talk? It wouldn't even matter what he's saying. He's just incredibly loathsome.

Invariably, that petulant weasel-faced buffoon is on one of the gym's televisions whenever I work out. If I watch the screen and the subtitles for even three minutes, my heart rate as measured by the machine shoots up. Since I am already at an elevated heart rate due to my hamster-wheeling activities, I have to mutter little laser noises at the television to calm down a little.

If I'm ever making wee 'pew pew' sounds under my breath and that man falls over on-screen it will be a day of splendor.
posted by winna at 7:26 PM on June 23, 2009 [7 favorites]


I like this from his review of The Village:

It's a crummy secret, about one step up the ladder of narrative originality from It Was All a Dream. It's so witless, in fact, that when we do discover the secret, we want to rewind the film so we don't know the secret anymore.

And then keep on rewinding, and rewinding, until we're back at the beginning, and can get up from our seats and walk backward out of the theater and go down the up escalator and watch the money spring from the cash register into our pockets.


Although criticising M Night and M Bay films is like shooting fish is a barrel. Still funny.
posted by crossoverman at 7:26 PM on June 23, 2009


> Can we have more Ebert movie review quotes? Those are good.
"Mad Dog Time" is the first movie I have seen that does not improve on the sight of a blank screen viewed for the same length of time. Oh, I've seen bad movies before. But they usually made me care about how bad they were. Watching "Mad Dog Time" is like waiting for the bus in a city where you're not sure they have a bus line.
[...]
What were they thinking of? [Richard] Dreyfuss is the executive producer. He's been in some good movies. Did he think this was a script? The actors perform their lines like condemned prisoners. The most ethical guy on the production must have been Norman Hollyn, the editor, because he didn't cut anybody out, and there must have been people willing to do him big favors to get out of this movie.

"Mad Dog Time" should be cut into free ukulele picks for the poor.
posted by churl at 7:32 PM on June 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


If nuclear war breaks out, the average citizen of a Western democracy will be better informed about Brittny Spears than the causes of their death.

So true.
posted by eye of newt at 8:21 PM on June 23, 2009


Overstated my ass. Man, those liberal writers ought to spend some time with O'Reilley freaks in the flyover states. They copy his "style" to the letter.

I don't actually have to say anything to get them mad. "conversations" go like this:

BO'R freak: [statement that is patently false or stupid - Obama's gonna take our guns | All colleges are liberal | The last 8 years were heaven! | Fox news is the only unbiased news source around! | That bailout is Obama's road to socialism! | All the other news channels are owned by rich liberals | Conservatives are always right and they have more money | Obama's a baby killer!]

Me: [something that is not "amen" or "ditto" - Really? Every single professor? Really? Obama said that? Really? Banks have been doing predatory lending only since January of this year?]

BO'R freak: [changes subject and attacks - You think Obama's gonna give you money and houses and jobs and everything and he's gonna run this country into the ground and you think that third trimester babies have no rights to live and people should just save up their own damn money for a down payment but no, OBAMA's gonna take it out of MY pocket!]

There was one time when we hadn't even spoken about anything that day - just work. And one flipped out and told me that she knew what I thought and what I believed because of what I said and what I did, then stomped out of the room. It was weeks before I could talk with her again - I didn't want to risk "hello".

We'll all still get into it because it can be entertaining to take fun little potshots that don't mean anything. But if someone's steamrolling the room (from the right left or middle) I'll say "third rail! I'm getting off the train now" and the conversation stops, because as they put it, I'm "telling them to shut up". Since political discussion is technically forbidden at work I can get away with that.

I have a teeny teeny bit of sympathy for them. In the main they're not horrible people - they're personally kind and generous. They lost, and some of them truly think we're going to hell in a handbasket. I know I felt that way the last 8 years and some before them.

I also know I wasn't browbeating the shit out of people who disagreed with me. I used logic and listening and goddamn facts.
posted by lysdexic at 8:30 PM on June 23, 2009 [5 favorites]


O'Reilly controls significant mindshare. He should not be underestimated.
posted by BillBishop at 8:58 PM on June 23, 2009


Not that I'm such a big fan, but he is definitely an American thought leader.
posted by BillBishop at 9:12 PM on June 23, 2009


"It is, honestly, freaky. I've tried talking to relatives and friends of friends who espouse this stuff, staying calm, being friendly, and keeping it light. But as soon as something that contradicts the worldview pops up, I get a -- sometimes equally friendly, equally calm -- 'oh, you're one of those liberals,' and then all rational conversation stops. When pressed, we end up with them screaming pretty darn quick. "

To be fair, the person who has the least control in my family during these conversations is a Democrat. It's hard for him to talk about politics at all with Republicans or anyone leaning that way, because he just gets pissed off right away. I tend to agree with him much of the time, but it's pretty annoying, because you really can't disagree with him or risk a flame-out in person. But he's certainly not a bully, just not real good at keeping it in perspective when you get him started.
posted by krinklyfig at 9:39 PM on June 23, 2009


"Oddly enough though, I have listened to Limbaugh a fair amount. I used to listen to him while doing menial labor during the Clinton years. And while his politics are disagreeable to me, he is at least capable of being witty and entertaining, or at least was back then. That may make him worse -- demagogue as opposed to bully. But at least he's not an idiot."

Eh, sometimes I listen to Limbaugh and the others just to check out what other people are listening to. I get pissed off enough while driving, however, so it's pretty rare anymore, but it's good to keep an eye on these guys, mostly because there is a huge audience and a fairly powerful political force involved. He is the most powerful voice in the Republican Party at the moment, what there is left of it anyway, and he was never elected but put himself there. Limbaugh clearly knows what he's doing. He has the right kind of voice for radio, and he's very good at filling hours of time just going on and on, keeping you engaged in his free-flowing train of thought. But that's where the problem is, his train of thought. He's talented at his relentless promotion of his ideology. But when Bush was still president, I heard him go into the wildest contortions of logic to explain why Bush did the things he did, to imagine him as noble and clever and not incurious and incompetent. After a while it became clear that he wasn't just trying to convince his audience, he was also trying to convince himself.
posted by krinklyfig at 10:01 PM on June 23, 2009


> Not that I'm such a big fan, but he is definitely an American thought leader.

That right there is one of the most damning indictments of the United States I've ever read.
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:59 AM on June 24, 2009


I honestly can't separate Limbaugh and O'Reilly in my mind. They're the same person, with the same face (I think the face is actually O'Reilly's). Can someone give me a quick rundown of the primary differences between them? I'm getting that maybe O'Reilly is more shouty. And maybe Limbaugh has more clout. Are there any differences in their espoused beliefs? Is one more popular with a certain population than the other? Do they compete, or do they have different audiences?
posted by whatnotever at 6:13 AM on June 24, 2009


This article in Milwaukee Magazine - which may have appeared in the blue a while back - also provides pretty clear analysis of RW radio talk tactics. I thought it worth linking to again.
posted by klarck at 9:03 AM on June 24, 2009


Here's Ebert's Most Hated list. A sample:
"Critters 2: The Main Course"

"Critters 2: The Main Course" is a movie about furry little hand puppets with lots of teeth, who are held up to salad bars by invisible puppeteers while large numbers of actors scream and pronounce unlikely dialogue.


"Cyborg"

The movie takes place in a future world in which all civilization has been reduced to a few phony movie sets. Leather-clad neo-Nazis stalk through the ruins, beating each other senseless and talking in Pulpspeak, which is like English, but without the grace and modulation. It's cold in the future, and it's wet, but never so cold or wet that the costumes do not bare the arm muscles of the men and the heaving bosoms of the women.


"Caligula"

"Caligula" is sickening, utterly worthless, shameful trash. If it is not the worst film I have ever seen, that makes it all the more shameful: People with talent allowed themselves to participate in this travesty. Disgusted and unspeakably depressed, I walked out of the film after two hours of its 170-minute length.


"North"

I hated this movie. Hated hated hated hated hated this movie. Hated it. Hated every simpering stupid vacant audience-insulting moment of it. Hated the sensibility that thought anyone would like it. Hated the implied insult to the audience by its belief that anyone would be entertained by it.
Also see: Your Movie Sucks.
posted by zarq at 10:22 AM on June 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


I traveled to Massachusetts and bought the Boston Herald on Sunday.

The Globe was sold out.
posted by longsleeves at 10:24 AM on June 24, 2009


His review of Ben Stein's Expelled was great, too. :D
posted by zarq at 10:24 AM on June 24, 2009


klarck: oooo. thanks for linking to that article. I remember reading it a while ago, but had lost the link. Great article, really lays out how the whole talk radio thing works.

(and makes me long for the day when they reinstitute the Fairness Doctrine. nothing will defuse the ticking time bomb of Limbaugh et al faster than requiring the stations that carry them to carry an equal amount of Air America.)
posted by hippybear at 10:57 AM on June 24, 2009


If you like Your Movie Sucks, you will almost certainly also like I Hated Hated Hated This Movie!
posted by box at 11:01 AM on June 24, 2009


If I'm ever making wee 'pew pew' sounds under my breath and that man falls over on-screen it will be a day of splendor.

If only you could shoot people over television, and punch faces over TCP/IP.
posted by dunkadunc at 1:12 PM on June 24, 2009


That would be the TFP/IP*.

*Total Face Punch / Internet Protocol
posted by hippybear at 1:38 PM on June 24, 2009


Total Face Punch / Internet Protocol
posted by lysdexic at 1:45 PM on June 24, 2009


wittgenstein: "My personal experience is that it is a waste of time to try to communicate about politics with someone who watches Fox regularly. They seem impervious to facts and if facts don't change your opinion, what will? (It is a signalling device for me; if I hear them talking about O'Reilly, Beck, or Hannity, I automatically know "this is clearly someone who I cannot talk with about politics.)"

I don't like to think that anyone is hopeless, but there are people, and I know many of them and and seeming more every day, who have built up, or been given through their upbringing, such a complete set of self-reinforcing beliefs, opinions and media filters that only psychological catastrophe seems likely of breaking through the shell. They have explanations for everything, and any news that challenges their worldview is explained away by the nature of the reporting. (Which, let's be clear, it's good to be a little skeptical of cable news in the U.S. right now, but they just exchange their old media blind spots for new ones.)
posted by JHarris at 2:02 PM on June 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


“Overstated my ass. Man, those liberal writers ought to spend some time with O'Reilley freaks in the flyover states. They copy his "style" to the letter.”

Reminds me of the Lenny Bruce routine where he talks about how his mom and aunt, etc. used to talk about flashers lurking in the bushes and jumping at them and how they’d hit them with their purses. I think it’s the same psychology with some of this “you think” and “I am” stuff. People want to believe they’re good so they invent this otherness in people regardless of what the other person actually believes, says, etc. or indeed, whether there's any actual event that occurred, as though an organized flasher conspiracy was laying in wait for Bruce's female family members.

It’s essentially identity and emotion. Logic has nothing to do with it. Sports fanatics come close to this. I mean, I love sports in general and Chicago teams specifically and I believe, sportingly and contrary to all logic (except for the Hawks this year) that they are the best or among the best teams in the country/league, etc.
But I get that it’s, y’know, a game. Some folks can’t keep it real. But a fanatic is a fanatic is a fanatic. And that’s where it gets weird in politics. Because if enough people believe it, it’s real – sorta. But there’s real effects, so either way…

Being pro-gun has some weird facets. Got into it with another pro-gun guy about how one doesn’t *need * a personal firearm from initial circumstances to successfully foment violent revolution (I’ve argued, from the other side, that it’s nice and it helps, but no, it’s not an absolute necessity. Plenty of explosives, etc, can be homemade).

His argument was (simplistic – but I see this on the other side as well) that if he has a gun at home and I don’t, I lose (assuming I was anti-gun when in fact I’m fairly well fixed). So I asked – got one with you now? He didn’t. So – you lose. Apparently I was wrong in some way because the possession of the firearm lent him some magical power that transcended basic logistics.

So for many people it’s got nothing at all to do with practical reality. And, for most people, because they’ve never really acted on their beliefs or executed policy in some way – it’s just talk so they can say whatever they want. So you get the pro-lifers deciding no one should have an abortion – oh, except for their kid. And that disconnect remains. Why I’m not sure – again, probably an identity thing. But O’Reilly is no different for all of that – in form – than someone who instills fanaticism for their local sports team.

Now one could, and folks have tried, to pass that off as otherwise harmless. But you’ve had riots after sporting events, championship wins, etc. That psychic energy easily translates into unthinking physical energy – which is usually directed from the outside – and which, for asshats like O’Reilly who is very much like his viewers – is out of control because they’ve never really even been in control of themselves much less an actual leadership role. By that of course I mean, not simply being “the boss” but actually having, y’know, responsibility for people and exercising that end of it rather than just getting off on power.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:16 AM on June 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


I met one of Bill O'Reilly's writers at a bar the other week. He was a liberal. He said that almost everyone who works for O'Reilly is a liberal.

That actually kind of makes sense. A lot of what he says sounds to me like a liberal's ham-handed parody of a right-wing pundit. But then, I think the stuff he comes up with himself probably also sounds like that.

Also, I can't stand to listen to him for 30 seconds, either...
posted by klausness at 3:57 AM on June 26, 2009 [1 favorite]



He said that almost everyone who works for O'Reilly is a liberal.

A lot of what he says sounds to me like a liberal's ham-handed parody of a right-wing pundit.


So ... Colbert is writing for O'RLY?

*head asplodes*
posted by lysdexic at 6:58 AM on June 26, 2009


Smedleyman: "His argument was [...] that if he has a gun at home and I don’t, I lose[...]."

Always, always, when you hear someone go off about how we should worry about what some nebulous other-person they will do if not stopped, always remember: there is a good change they're arguing that because there is a certain situation out there in which they themselves would probably do it if given the chance.

You could name this theorem after Larry Craig or Mark Foley, and sure, anti-gay rhetoric seems to be an unusually strong correlation for my little hypothesis. But it is worrisome to think about this guy exulting in the possibility of his "winning" an argument this way.
posted by JHarris at 8:05 PM on July 6, 2009


In Bill O'Reilly's Sites: Run afoul of the conservative commentator, and feel the wrath of his avid Army
posted by homunculus at 9:32 PM on July 21, 2009


"Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength." - Eric Hoffer
posted by lysdexic at 6:34 AM on July 22, 2009


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