Politically Incorrect to be no more?!
November 8, 2001 7:28 AM   Subscribe

Politically Incorrect to be no more?! I think this is the best talk show on TV. Politics aside, Maher never panders to his celebrity guests---image, on this show, is just that. I really hope someone else picks it up...
posted by adrober (51 comments total)
Sure. That's why he has celebrities on the show. Image means nothing at all.
posted by raysmj at 7:33 AM on November 8, 2001

I grew tired of Maher after watching regularly for about 3 or 4 months back when the show was on Comedy Central. Not because of his views, but how he states them. I just find him to be a very grating personality. He's a walking, talking, fingernails being scratched across a chalkboard. Blehhh.
posted by verdezza at 7:46 AM on November 8, 2001

I just find him to be a very grating personality. He's a walking, talking, fingernails being scratched across a chalkboard. Blehhh.

And Rush, G. Gordon, Dr. Laura, etc, etc, ad nauseam are all songbirds, right? ;)
posted by terrapin at 7:51 AM on November 8, 2001

...are all songbirds, right? ;)

Actually, I would consider them on level with Maher when it comes to the fingernails on the chalkboard factor, but that's just my butthole/opinion.
posted by prototype_octavius at 7:55 AM on November 8, 2001

I've always felt that Politically Incorrect was a show for pseudo-intellectuals.

Personally, I think Charlie Rose is an excellent show. No audience, no set. Just Charlie, his guests and a table.
posted by TacoConsumer at 7:59 AM on November 8, 2001

I haven't watched Bill Maher since I moved out of the country, but I always enjoyed watching. He was actually able to foster political discussion on a major American network, which is no easy task, imnsho.
posted by jeffvc at 7:59 AM on November 8, 2001

what can I say about Maher? sibling of O'Reilly?
Way too self-absorbed and what really ticked me off was the show when Sarah Silverman (played the daughter on the Rosanne show) was on and all the show proved to me was truly how racist and narrow-minded the guy really is...
posted by dkhong at 7:59 AM on November 8, 2001

I used to love PI until I went to a taping in LA a couple of years ago. I haven't watched it since.
posted by MrBaliHai at 8:00 AM on November 8, 2001

The current version of the show usually loses me after about the first ten minutes... once the guests get riled up it just turns into another Springer style shouting match and you can't understand anything anyone says. I liked it better on Comedy Central, but I don't expect he'll go back there. He'll probably just do something different.
posted by spilon at 8:05 AM on November 8, 2001

Personally, I think Charlie Rose is an excellent show. No audience, no set. Just Charlie, his guests and a table.

Yeah, but Charlie lobs softballs.
posted by terrapin at 8:27 AM on November 8, 2001

proved to me was truly how racist and narrow-minded the guy really is...

Ummm. I think a comment like that should require facts to back it up. I have not seen the episode of the show you reference, and I find it hard to believe that Bill Maher is a racist.

I'd especially like you to support your comments because Sarah Silverman was never on the Rosanne show—at least not as one of the daughters. Sara Gilbert was. And Sarah Chalke (who I love on NBC's new show Scrubs) was. But not Sarah Silverman. So your credibility with facts is questionable.
posted by terrapin at 8:36 AM on November 8, 2001

Personally, I'll be sad when PI goes. Sure, Maher can be abrasive sometimes, but I would take the sound of libertarian nails scratching a blackboard over the sound of right-wing-conservative ones anytime.

TacoConsumer, I agree Charlie Rose is one of the best tv shows out there. A host and his guest(s) having intelligent conversations.
posted by treedream at 8:36 AM on November 8, 2001

It's probably a function of the limitations of the show's half-hour format, but I've always found P.I. to be Politics Lite, more entertainment than substance. Maher strikes me as a shrill, self-absorbed tyrant, and he often makes me cringe when he goes on an argumentative roll without thinking, which leads to dumb statements like his recent "retarded children are like dogs" and "we are cowards lobbing cruise missiles" gaffes.

Sarah Gilbert played the daughter on the Roseanne show, BTW. Sarah Silverman was on SNL for a while if I'm remembering correctly.
posted by MegoSteve at 8:43 AM on November 8, 2001

What happened at the taping that caused you to stop watching the show, MrBaliHai? Just curious...
posted by MegoSteve at 8:45 AM on November 8, 2001

what really ticked me off was the show when Sarah Silverman...

I'm curious, too, about what happened when Sarah Gilbert was on the show (not Sarah Silverman, the sexy potty-mouthed ex-Saturday Night Live player who I'm completely in love with). Can you elaborate, dhkong?
posted by Karl at 8:57 AM on November 8, 2001

The Sarah Silverman debacle (and yes, it's Sarah Silverman from SNL) actually started on Conan O'Brian. She did a gag where she said to avoid jury duty her friend suggested she write something racist on the form like "I hate chinks." Sarah said, she could never bring herself to write something so hateful so she wrote: "I love chinks."

Now, I don't think this is the funniest thing ever, but it's clearly mocking racism, not subscribing to it. However, there was a huge backlash from the Asian community, and on Politically Incorrect the next week, the Japanese man who had written the angriest editorials about Silverman came on the show with Silverman demanding an apology. Silverman refused. Maher supported her. End of story.
posted by adrober at 9:07 AM on November 8, 2001

MegoSteve: sometimes when you see the inner workings of a thing it strips away all the magic, kind of like cutting open a butterfly to see it's gooey, yucky insides.

PI tapings are run like game shows and sitcoms; they treated us like crap by subjecting us to horrible standup routines courtesy of the show's incredibly unfunny head writer, Danny Vermont, aided and abetted by the studio ushers. Danny led us in incessant practice clapping and cheering sessions for a whole hour prior to the start of taping and during every commercial break. My hands felt like flippers afterwards. Danny keep promising us that if we were good little clappers there'd be "chocolate treats" at the break which turned out to be a couple of stale Fun Size Snickers bars. Maher looked like a corpse and didn't speak to the audience at all.

But I think the worst part was when they showed us a tape of snippets from previous shows that featured incredible stars making amazingly witty remarks. We didn't get any of them, we wound up being tortured by Danny Bonaduce, Judd Nelson, Sisqo, Chely Wright, and a couple of Republican commentators...Auuugh!
posted by MrBaliHai at 9:07 AM on November 8, 2001

PI has been going downhill ever since it was picked up by ABC. Bill Maher can only do so much with the crappy guests they're scheduling.

Charlie Rose can be really incredible if you're interested in the guest, or really boring if you don't care about the guest/topic.
posted by Witold at 9:11 AM on November 8, 2001

OK adrober, you beat me to it. There's an article about the whole thing here, including the joke she made on Conan.

She was hilarious, by the way, on the recent Friar's Club roast of Hugh Hefner. I'm a big fan of hers too. Anybody up for a thread hijack? I could spend all day talking about SS.
posted by luser at 9:13 AM on November 8, 2001

I enjoyed Politically Incorrect during it's first few months on network television (no Comedy Central here), but I haven't watched it in years. Eventually it seemed to me that Maher just started spouting off opinions to provoke responses from the guests and audience, which is, as someone said above, more akin to Springer than a news roundtable program.
posted by jess at 9:14 AM on November 8, 2001

Personality and style aside, Maher lost all my sympathy and respect when he kissed the ass of Ari Fleischer after describing the WTC attackers as "not cowards." He is snivelling and spineless, and doesn't have the guts to stand by his statements or convictions. No more show? Boo-hoo.
posted by mapalm at 9:18 AM on November 8, 2001

Oh God, Sarah Silverman was on Letterman once and explained that she envied a stripper friend who got her ass hair waxed. Waxed! she said. That's really extravagant. Then she said, "On my salary, I can only afford to get mine cut & styled". Then later she commented that she had dated a Mexican once, and had diarrhea for a whole week after. Crude, yes, but her deadpan delivery is pretty unique. *Swoon*
posted by Karl at 9:21 AM on November 8, 2001

Sorry for the mini-hijack.

*goes back to fantasizing*
posted by Karl at 9:42 AM on November 8, 2001

I think the Sarah Silverman thing was totally justified in Bill Maher's support, because I don't think it was a racist comment.

But as for Bill Maher's show, while I am a fan, it has recently become near-unwatchable. The problem is this... it is a 30 minute show which normally debated 3 topics in 3 sections. What happens now is that they discuss one topic in the first segment, and it somehow drizzles into the following two segments, destroying any possible additional topics. He needs to get his guests back on track.

And I always figured this could be real fun on the Internet. Set up a net-show like this with a voice chat room, and have people listen in. Debate a certain topic. There, you're not bound by advertisers or real time constraints. Stimulating political conversation isn't that hard, and once it is going, it can go on by itself.
posted by benjh at 9:53 AM on November 8, 2001

Uh oh Karl. She did that same bit at the friar's club. Gonna have to dock her for that. But then again, add points for the line "Is it really molestation if the baby makes the first move?"

She's pretty f*ing fearless.
posted by luser at 9:55 AM on November 8, 2001

Ah shit, I didn't catch the Roast, the first I think I've ever missed. I saw commercials of her saying some unfunny one-liner and feared the worst. She is indeed fearless, as is Chris Rock on some levels. Curious: has he ever been formally called out for his comments by a special interests group like Sarah was? (Probably....just wondering if someone has an example).
posted by Karl at 10:00 AM on November 8, 2001

Karl--I can't remember who said it, but some black leader (or prominent black figure, at least--I think it was Spike Lee, but I'm not sure about that) compared Chris Rock, along with Chris Tucker, to minstrels from the early 20th century. An unfair comparison, IMO.

As for Maher...I personally think he's a sexist pig, but even sexist pigs have a right to say what they want to say. Also, PI is a guilty pleasure of mine, despite Maher. I haven't watched it lately, however, since the ABC affiliate in town (owned by Sinclair Broadcasting) dropped PI from its schedule as a result of the remark Maher made back in September.
posted by lannie628 at 10:21 AM on November 8, 2001

Politically Correct is an entertainment show. It's not a source of news. I never got people who don't like it because it's "Politics Lite." If you're watching it for its thought provoking commentary on contemporary issues, of course you're going to be disappointed. But it is an amusing show. Or it isn't, but it TRIES to be.
posted by Doug at 10:24 AM on November 8, 2001

sorry, but back on the hugh hefner friar roast, of all things the funniest bit was gilbert freakin' godfrey, who didn't do a routine, he simply rehashed ice t's routine in his own inimitable style, and i thought it was the highlight of the roast...
posted by vito90 at 10:51 AM on November 8, 2001

I'm never watching anything on ABC again if the "PI" contract is cancelled. Easy for me to say since most of the time I forget my TV even exists, but I *can* reprogram it to skip over Channel 7.

Anyway, so why is "Politics Lite" inherently evil? I know there are people for whom Maher's catfight-debate forum is not nearly weighty enough, and that's all to the good. But aren't you esoteric and lofty folk also the ones who bemoan American complacency and total ignorance of government, politics and social issues? You aren't going to turn the average teevee-watching insomniac into a commentary-and-analysis junkie with Charlie Rose, ferchrissakes.

JFK Jr.'s mission with his magazine George (both, of course, now quite dead) was to bring an interest in politics to the mainstream. You don't have to have been a fan of John-John or his magazine to be able to concede that that's a pretty cool goal, or to be able to concede that packing politics in shiny celebrity-adorned paper is a hell of a strategy for getting people's attention. C'mon, quick choice, a Herb Ritts photograph of either Cindy Crawford dressed up in a George Washington powdered wig and a bare tummy, or Charlie Rose in same? Newt Gingrinch perhaps (this was 1995, after all)? Yeah, I didn't think so... "PI" is in a way the same thing.

I loved "PI", back when the DC affiliate showed it instead of the Hollywood-gossip tabloid "Extra"... now *there* is some serious crap teevee. Maybe I'd've eventually become terribly self-serious and grown out of "PI", the same way I grew out of Neal Boortz and Rush Limbaugh when I went from being a non-discriminating newstalk newbie-omnivore to someone who had enough experience surfing the AM dial to know that the big guys (Boortz is syndicated out of Atlanta, which market he has ruled for years) were not the best guys. Either way, I've got to admire someone who at least tries to inject some undercurrent of serious issues into what is really, bottom line, an entertainment-oriented show... the world would be a better place if all of us listened to NPR and watched PBS, no doubt, but there are people who never will no matter what, and then there are people who might develop a taste for that if they're just offered a little window to those sorts of things in the form of the "PI"s and Georges of the world.
posted by Sapphireblue at 10:58 AM on November 8, 2001

"Gingrinch?" teehee. Freud, Newt. Newt, Freud.
posted by Sapphireblue at 11:00 AM on November 8, 2001

He totally panders, by the way. Ever seen him with Sandra Bernhard? Gross.
posted by donkeyschlong at 11:15 AM on November 8, 2001

Personally, I'll be sad when PI goes. Sure, Maher can be abrasive sometimes, but I would take the sound of libertarian nails scratching a blackboard over the sound of right-wing-conservative ones anytime.

Maher is hardly a libertarian.

Anyway, PI will be missed. What kind of society will we be when we can't get Gene Simmons's views on the war in Afghanistan anymore?
posted by ljromanoff at 11:32 AM on November 8, 2001

Speaking as a self-absorbed abrasive pseudo-intellectual, the consideration of dropping Maher after his contract is up because of his opinions is killing the messenger. I wouldn't put it past ABC/Disney/WhateverElse. Conservative corporate gluttony has no stomach for hearing differing opinions, which is precisely what P.I.'s based on. Quite frankly I'm surprised ABC ever picked up the show.

I love the show and I love Maher's head, even and especially when I disagree with him. He does have balls, but Disney slashes at them like Buffy the Vampire Slayer every chance they get. Most noticably after the 911 fiasco, Maher's become gunshy. They may have finally successfully been able to turn him into a eunuch. I doubt this settles well with him. Like the recession, Maher's problems with Disney have been going on for some time. This just exacerbated them. Maher probably wants to get out from under this show. He may leave before they axe him. I wouldn't blame him. I doubt he can look at his own face in the mirror in the morning. What he tolerates. What they make him put up with. It's sickening. He can do much better than this, but not while he's sucking on Minnie Mouse's teat.

Why's Charlie Rose so good? He's on public television, which doesn't care if a corporate supporter pulls their funding, at least until recent years since the conservatives have started slashing at PBS too. You want popular opinion? You get Jerry Springer. You want feelgood vibes? You get Oprah Winfrey. You want only what sells? You get The View and The Other Half but you lose Phil Donahue. I don't personally like the cost of giving the public only what they want.

You want attempts at simultaneously entertaining AND enlightening the public, when sometimes they don't want to hear the truth? You get Charlie Rose. You get Bill Maher. You can't decide? You get Charlie Rose and Bill Maher but you don't get their manhood. You get a watered down version. You get castrated voices.

Maher was clear to me when he said it: The American government have been treating terrorism with kid gloves for years now. Why? Because the American people can't stomach more bloodshed. He never said the american miltary are cowards. He was saying we americans are cowards, and we vote cowards into office. Those bastards who flew the planes into the WTC were insane, sociopathic, kamikaze nerfherders, but they weren't cowards. They took their distorted beliefs to a painful extreme, which is what the most uncowardly types do.

Bill Maher was not condoning their actions, but he could understand them. He was also not condoning America's lack of action regarding this issue in the past. He's telling people what they don't want but need to hear. That's why he's in trouble now, because he has almost the same courage as those bastard terrorists, only at the last second Maher cut his engines, because he didn't want to see anyone get hurt - especially himself.

"Can we change?" Bill Maher asks us. If Maher's taken off the boob toob, the answer will most certainly be no. We can't change. And we can't tolerate being told when we should change by a self-absorbed, abrasive pseudo-intellectual like him. If only there were more self-absorbed, abrasive pseudo-intellectuals like him in this world.
posted by ZachsMind at 11:45 AM on November 8, 2001

I just cannot respect Maher at all after the show that was on last night. He was acting completely ignorant.

He brought on a group of Muslim Americans to discuss the current situation. The guests were making valid points that America's foreign policy has effectively lead to our current situation, which is true no matter how you want to slice it. Wether it was necessary to make the foreign policy decisions we have made or not is not germane to my point, so I won't troll.

Maher continually kept purporting that the vast majority of the Islamic world considers Americans infidels and that the U.S. bears no responsibility for our current plight, which is ridiculous. However, what grated on me the most is his complete denial that over the last few decades the US has supported with arms and training countless regimes that have since turned against us. Of course we have, and again wether it was necessary to do so or not is not the point. It has and will continue to happen, you simply can't deny that or you completely lose credibility.

Refusing to admit to obvious facts is what I expect from right-wing zealot fucknuts not intelligent political commentators.
posted by efullerton at 12:51 PM on November 8, 2001

Refusing to admit to obvious facts is what I expect from right-wing zealot fucknuts

You don't believe that left-wing zealot fucknuts do this too?
posted by MrBaliHai at 1:26 PM on November 8, 2001

Oh course, all zealots are fucknuts. I just happen to be on the left so I tend to think right when I think zealots, but certainly ignorance and closed-mindedness cannot be categorized neatly by drawing partisan lines.
posted by efullerton at 1:34 PM on November 8, 2001

I'll take leftie fucknuts over righties any day...but that's just me.
posted by edlark at 1:40 PM on November 8, 2001

MrBaliHai: "Danny led us in incessant practice clapping...for a whole hour...and during every commercial break. My hands felt like flippers afterwards."

Hold on a minute -- you were FORCED to clap?
posted by davidmsc at 2:42 PM on November 8, 2001

Please ZachsMind, let's not make Bill Maher into some kind of hero. He's a self-promoting entertainer. A few months ago, he was interviewed on some TV show and was claiming that he was the only one on television who had the balls to tell the truth. That kills me. His self-awareness. Pitching himself as "the rebel." The Limp Bizkit of television. It's sad. Very sad. But it's his schtick. His career. I, for one, refuse to buy into his own PR. The truth is, he's a second-rate comedian who got a lucky break hosting a timely show (when being PC was all the rage). Time's up, Bill. We'll see you later, maybe in Police Academy 12.
posted by jacknose at 2:56 PM on November 8, 2001

Whoa, ljr: he self-identifies as libertarian, even if he doesn't pass your principles test, though he's also liberal on many other issues. Despite his "we have been the cowards" remark -- which was more about foreign policy than men in uniform, and regrettably was misinterpreted -- he often defends the military against peaceniks, and he's taken a pro-war position overall. I know I'm more of a lefty than he is, that's for sure, even given my own support for the war. He's a great, curmudgeonly voice to a niche of American politics that often goes unrecognized. I wish there were more Democrats ready to topple sacred cows.

That said, his show is often trite, repetitive, filled with B-list celebrities, and even unwatchable at times. When it's good, though, it can be a lot of fun, and I really respect the position that ordinary people -- in this context, ordinary people who happen to be famous -- get to have political thoughts and opinions, not just the solons and eggheads. I take the show more as entertainment than insight, and often I'll just watch his opening remarks. (I was disappointed that they began sprinkling his monolog jokes at the ad bumpers. I think they figured out that people like me were turning it off after five minutes.) In the end it's easy for me to skip. (Here in Chicago, the home station of her O-ness, they rerun her morning show in between Nightline and PI -- so it doesn't come on until midnight. And lately at that time I prefer to watch World News from ITN.)

A thoughtful, influential show? Nah. Fun? Usually. Great TV? Often enough.

Charlie Rose, of course (why did he get in this discussion?), does specialize in softballs. But then the point of his show isn't ripping or showing people up, it's getting them to talk about what they know and what interests them. I think these two show are in some ways each other's antithesis.
posted by dhartung at 3:10 PM on November 8, 2001

An interesting collection of compliments and criticism. Maher gets slagged for being politics lite, pandering to celebs who are unfortunately not A-list, claiming to be a free speaker, having bad opinions, a lame studio experience and holding hands with Mickey. Others cheer him for bringing politics to the people as entertainment but few will actually admit to watching his show now (though many did back in the good old days - old skewl P.I fans from back when it was on cable?).

This thread is just like an episode of P.I.! Consider yourself a B-list celeb!
posted by srboisvert at 4:03 PM on November 8, 2001

sapphireblue: the world would be a better place if all of us listened to NPR and watched PBS, no doubt

Just some perspective -- wouldn't you agree that there are many people who believe that "the world be a better place if all of us listened to Rush Limbaugh and watched Fox News Channel, no doubt."

No criticism -- just observing how easy it is to assume that life would just be peachier if somehow everyone embraced "my" cultural programming.

Of course, many learned MeFi'ers enjoy all four of the references above. Fair & balanced, ya know...
posted by davidmsc at 4:12 PM on November 8, 2001

Whoa, ljr: he self-identifies as libertarian, even if he doesn't pass your principles test,

If I self-identify as the the King of France it doesn't automatically mean I'll be taking up residence at the Chateau of Versailles.

Maher is pro-gun control, pro-public education, pro-Kyoto Accord, and supported Ralph Nader. That's no libertarian.
posted by ljromanoff at 5:44 PM on November 8, 2001


Say what you will about Maher personally, but on how many other shows do you hear the opinions of a group of Muslim Americans?
posted by ArkIlloid at 9:02 PM on November 8, 2001

Love it, jacknose! (Especially the Police Academy 12 crack.) Although I think it'd be a dishonor to be "The Limp Bizkit of television." ;-)
posted by verdezza at 12:24 AM on November 9, 2001

Personally, I think Charlie Rose is an excellent show. No audience, no set. Just Charlie, his guests and a table.

I would rather watch a months worth of Charlie Rose than 10 minutes of Mr. Maher, no matter who the guest was.
posted by bjgeiger at 6:56 AM on November 9, 2001

verdezza, my point exactly. limp bizkit is the personification of the pseudo-rebel (or commodified rebel).
posted by jacknose at 9:03 AM on November 9, 2001

davidmsc: I don't watch PBS and have listened to NPR about twice in the past year. my comment was a little poke at whomever it was up there who dragged Charlie Rose into this discussion to begin with.

Forget to include your <sarcasm> tags, and get accused of utter self-absorption... let this be a lesson to all unwary mefites :>
posted by Sapphireblue at 2:20 PM on November 9, 2001

Sapphireblue: No personal criticism intended - I swear! All is forgiven...? :-(
posted by davidmsc at 2:43 PM on November 9, 2001

jacknose: "Please ZachsMind, let's not make Bill Maher into some kind of hero."

The use of the word hero is in your words. Not mine. I never claim he's a hero. Nor have I ever Not said he's a self-promoting entertainer. He is.

He's a person. Disney has categorized him as a commodity which threatens to dehumanize him and is probably the real reason why he's either thinking of leaving, or hoping they'll let him go.

He's a person I happen to appreciate. He's a person you happen to dislike. Your opinion is yours and you are welcome to it.

I still stand behind my words. I do not stand behind yours.
posted by ZachsMind at 5:30 PM on November 9, 2001

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