"…the fury and the momentum of the proudly ill-informed is problematic."
September 11, 2021 7:10 AM   Subscribe

After 9/11, Marc Maron’s Friends Started Choosing Sides – in which Maron connects the rise of so-called anti-woke comedy to the political polarization that emerged in the stand-up comedy scene in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks
It really becomes “This is not the time to be critical of U.S. policy,” or locking into “This is chickens-coming-home-to-roost” thinking: “This is the time that we have to drive some trucks into Queens and break up these mosques.” So that was where it was. There was no real middle; finding the middle happened over time. The take was, “There’s no good Arabs.”

[...]

So what you’re seeing now is there’s an audience that has been built up around the current momentum of comedy that isn’t fundamentally a comedy audience. It’s more of a team loyalty thing, and they have their own audience. So what you’re seeing is that there’s an insulated crew of comics that are all about “Fuck you, pussies.” I can’t simplify it, but there are people that are going to be, as we move forward, unaffected by pushback, because they’ve got their people. So then what happens to the dialogue of stand-up that’s supposed to kind of straddle these two worlds and move through the middle to kind of balance out that thing? I don’t know.

It’s also so easily co-opted by right-wing politics. Whatever they think they’re doing — or if they think they’re non-political — they’re definitely carrying water for a kind of creepy and destructive momentum, and I think that what gets pushed back is the same thing that gets pushed back historically, which is the voice of the marginalized. So the more that proper show business diversifies out of necessity from righteous pushback — and also is willing to engage in unique voices to more fully represent what this country really is — then that is a bulwark against that at all times; it seeks a new status quo that will be the dominant cultural language, but how is it anything but sort of … I don’t want to label it in a lazy way. I’m wary to say “right-wing,” I’m wary to say “fascist,” but you’re moving through this sort of hyper-masculine, aggressive, false pursuit of freedom to say things that are clearly hurtful and dubious about people who can’t really culturally defend themselves with the same weight.

So what is that? I guess it’s sort of a bully situation. I’ve become convinced that the voices of the oppressed and the marginalized becoming more prominent to force the hand of apathetic people into a more empathetic position is the only way we’re going to save this fucking country. And it’s a fairly new realization, so I don’t know when comedy starts to speak to that. It’s just that the fury and the momentum of the proudly ill-informed is problematic.
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posted by hippybear at 7:22 AM on September 11 [5 favorites]


Maybe Marc Maron's gonna milkshake-duck himself, or maybe he already has, but I really like the guy and his voice. This was an interesting read, and something I'd noticed over the years as well and couldn't really put words to. Thanks for the link.
posted by snwod at 7:31 AM on September 11 [2 favorites]


The proudly ill-informed are the reason the rest of us can't have nice things.

I used to believe that ignorance was always forgivable because we're all ignorant about such a stupendous number of things. Then I encountered wilful ignorance online, and started noticing it IRL as well, and lost another bit of innocence.

I know we're all supposed to be empathetic and respectful and so forth when interacting with flat earthers and antivax types and MAGAhats and climate change deniers, so as to give ourselves the best chance of changing minds and helping folks break free from the associated death cults; but I've only very rarely seen this work face-to-face and never online. There are just too many people who have made wilful ignorance fundamental to their self-concept. So, fuck 'em. Time wasted on conversing with neo-know-nothings is time not spent organizing to work around their worst excesses.

And yeah, that whole rabble did get a huge leg up out of 9/11 - undoubtedly the most successful terrorist attack in living memory, as judged on the basis of the sheer amount of damage taken by the culture under attack.
posted by flabdablet at 7:48 AM on September 11 [87 favorites]


I think this is a good piece for those of use who were born post-9/11 to read. The US was never fully good, the social and policing issues we’re currently protesting existed long before, but 9/11 truly broke the country.

Close to 3000 people died but 3000+ people died of COVID yesterday. It was seeing the US attacked, “our” buildings burning that was visible evidence against the US invincibility that was the usual school fare growing up. People had a worldview and then saw the world as it was and just broke bad. Well, it’s not like people right of Fox News were sunshine and rainbows before so maybe “broke open” is a better way of putting it.
posted by Slackermagee at 8:13 AM on September 11 [49 favorites]


Lately I think a lot about this profile of a trans comic who gave up on it. They said something interesting, that their comedy was perceived as based on an "identity," but that the grouchy libertarian male comedy that dominates the industry is an identity, too. The mainstream guys aren't "just telling jokes" but pushing a point of view.
posted by anhedonic at 8:36 AM on September 11 [32 favorites]


The mainstream guys aren't "just telling jokes" but pushing a point of view.

To be fair, most comedians who are considered "top tier comedians" were "pushing a point of view."

You're gonna tell me Carlin's "it's a big club and we ain't in it" isn't a point of view? His bit on conservatives and abortion isn't a point of view?

All comedians have always pushed a point of view.
posted by deadaluspark at 9:02 AM on September 11 [10 favorites]


Also let's not pretend that conservatives can't take what they want from a guy like Carlin. Rewatch the entire "it's a big club and we ain't in it" bit and think about things he says that Republicans agree with. You could have a Proud Boy watch the same bit and he'd probably be hootin and hollerin and saying Carlin is the best and knows what is going on.

Just, keep these things in mind. Comedians absolutely do push personal agendas, and even the best of them include some seriously dumb shit in those personal agendas.
posted by deadaluspark at 9:04 AM on September 11 [6 favorites]


One thing that isn't perhaps captured is the fear that it wasn't over. I'm not talking abstractly the NSA spying on people, or that we'd have one-off terrorist attacks like in Boston. There was a palpable fear that there were hidden cells within NYC and the rest of the country ready to strike. It was a real fear and people all over the United States felt it. In retrospect the terrorists targeted an incredibly high profile building, used as a backdrop among nearly all national news agencies during prime-time morning shows. But it actually felt like a "Red Dawn" type of invasion.

You could have a Proud Boy watch the same bit and he'd probably be hootin and hollerin and saying Carlin is the best and knows what is going on.

See: Mr. Garrison as President Trump as Andrew Dice Clay. I see it as a takedown of Trump and largely of us, the audience, as loving to hate Trump. Conservatives I talked to see it as speaking the truth or some such nonsense.
posted by geoff. at 9:07 AM on September 11 [13 favorites]


It feels somewhat overlapping to see this interesting post today by Eric Boehlert on the
media's role more recently in the larger changes in public discourse: "The press fawned over Trump voters in diners. Now they're Covid zombies."
posted by PhineasGage at 9:26 AM on September 11 [14 favorites]


The US was never fully good, the social and policing issues we’re currently protesting existed long before, but 9/11 truly broke the country.
I remember thinking that the late 90s boom was going to seem like a lost era. The big thing I saw is that people felt okay being openly racist again — in the 90s, David Duke ran for office and the Republicans quickly distanced themselves from him. Today, his views are an increasingly mainstream part of Republican ideology

One of the sadder losses was the embrace of torture as state policy. In the 90s, the U.S. very specifically banned that in a law proposed by a Republican who argued on the grounds that torture was something our enemies did — and while there was a huge blind spot regarding how police treated brown people, I do think he was sincere in believing that we should be better than what happened in USSR, Germany, Vietnam, etc. and most members of Congress agreed.

Less than a decade later, a President of his party made torture an official policy on the grounds of “l'état, c'est moi” and suffered no real consequences for it. His view is now mainstream GOP orthodoxy and many Republicans feel he didn’t go far enough.

None of that would have happened if a few hundred votes in Florida had gone the other way.
posted by adamsc at 9:37 AM on September 11 [38 favorites]


Or if SCOTUS had decided everybody in Florida should be allowed to vote.
posted by schroedinger at 10:11 AM on September 11 [53 favorites]


The Proudly Ill Informed didn't pop up out of nowhere on the day after 09/11. Stallone had been successfully pumping that crowd for a while. He rescued the honour of white men humiliated by: African American fighters in the ring, Asian soldiers the Vietnam war, Muslim revolutionaries in Iran, Mexican/Native American drug dealers on their streets.
posted by brachiopod at 10:25 AM on September 11 [16 favorites]


African American fighters in the ring, Asian soldiers the Vietnam war

I'll point out that it's a little difficult to imagine boxing without Black prizefighters, since they've dominated the "sport" for decades. And how do you not include "Asians" in the Vietnam War? I wouldn't put all that on Stallone, or even racism.
posted by SPrintF at 10:30 AM on September 11 [4 favorites]


Also let's not pretend that conservatives can't take what they want from a guy like Carlin. Rewatch the entire "it's a big club and we ain't in it" bit and think about things he says that Republicans agree with. You could have a Proud Boy watch the same bit and he'd probably be hootin and hollerin and saying Carlin is the best and knows what is going on.

I once read an interview with Berkeley Breathed, creator of Bloom County, in which he said that he'd knew he'd written a good comic when he got irate letters from both conservatives and liberals.

Complaints about comics showing a point of view (as if we must now fetch the smelling salts) only come up when people don't like whatever that point of view is. But point of view is integral to all art, including comedy. The fool in King Lear had a point of view, which was basically the point of him.
posted by FencingGal at 10:36 AM on September 11 [10 favorites]


The Proudly Ill Informed didn't pop up out of nowhere on the day after 09/11. Stallone had been successfully pumping that crowd for a while.

not to forget Morton Downey Jr.
posted by philip-random at 10:40 AM on September 11 [14 favorites]


Well, it’s not like people right of Fox News were sunshine and rainbows before so maybe “broke open” is a better way of putting it.

No, but I was born in the 70s and I remember thinking, in the run up to the invasion of Afghanistan, and then again during the start of the 2nd Gulf War, that I had really underestimated the nihilism and depravity of the mainstream US right, and how flatfooted liberals were in the face of it.

And I grew up in DC political punk, too.
posted by ryanshepard at 10:41 AM on September 11 [33 favorites]


@brachiopod

This is an interesting line of thought, and I wonder if it wasn't more of a confluence of events and technology that allowed this group to become more vocal. The internet was springing up and becoming more accessible to a lot of Americans at that time, meaning more and more Americans were looking up shady resources and weird forums online for information and communication. Many Americans who had previously felt isolated in their communities suddenly found community on the internet. Also, there was a proliferation of video cameras. I grew up in the 80's/90's, and there was absolutely an explosion of higher quality security cameras in the 2000's and then the explosion of phone cameras between about 2004-2007 when the iPhone came out. Podcasting was a thing by 2004, giving more vocal right wingers a platform that wasn't costly to run and a lot of listeners and traction.

So, it's not that the group didn't exist, but that we largely didn't hear from them or see them. However, when news reports had tons of videos of people violently assaulting or harassing muslims (or perceived as muslims) post-9/11, suddenly you knew these people were out there, there was video evidence and news stories and online forums for them now.

I do think the boogeyman of the muslim terrorist definitely made sentiment against the Other much higher, post-9/11, and I'm sure there is polling that reflects that. When you have an Other which is of another race, it is inadvertently going to make people who dislike the Other think their own race is superior (see: Israel). Others had existed before, as you astutely pointed out, but no Other has seemed to make the American public shrink in cowardice like the muslim terrorist. In other words, I think this definitely contributed to the growth of a pro-white sentiment post-9/11 that wasn't quite as explicitly pro-white as beforehand.

Also, let's not discount that Islam doesn't reject Jesus' existence, just that he isn't the son of God, and a lot of Christians took that very personally, which also contributed massively to the increased racism and belief that the white race was superior. They felt that it was an attack on their religion, because it was from a religion that rejects theirs.

I mean, Rocky also fought a white Russian, if I remember correctly as someone who has never watched a fucking Rocky movie.
posted by deadaluspark at 10:42 AM on September 11 [6 favorites]


One could argue that the Proudly I’ll Informed adopted a policy that could be summed up as, “Lock the gates!”
posted by badbobbycase at 10:52 AM on September 11 [5 favorites]


In my mind it's become distilled down to Bullies and Not Bullies.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 10:54 AM on September 11 [16 favorites]


I'll point out that it's a little difficult to imagine boxing without Black prizefighters, since they've dominated the "sport" for decades. And how do you not include "Asians" in the Vietnam War?

Rocky and more of Stallone’s body of work is all about rescuing self worth and “honour”. Rocky came out at a time when black fighters had dominated the heavyweight division for the living memory of the young target audience. He was selling a fantasy of white dominance. It was profitable to have Rambo go back and re-fight the Vietnam War in a movie. There was no real profit made by films exploring the path that led to it or acknowledging the sense of humiliation.

Rocky also fought a White Russian

…a white Soviet fighter. The USSR (and communism) was still the prime enemy at the time.
posted by brachiopod at 10:54 AM on September 11 [9 favorites]


Oceania has always been at war with Eurasia.
posted by flabdablet at 11:01 AM on September 11 [6 favorites]


I'm genuinely at the point where I think anybody who votes Republican is responsible for at least a little bit of murder. And that's sad, that politics has led us into camps of pro-murder and can you please stop killing us?
posted by Jacen at 11:03 AM on September 11 [21 favorites]


the fury and the momentum of the proudly ill-informed is problematic

When I first read this quote it was like "hell, yes." But as I'm reading this thread and mulling this over, the thing that's missing - that is too-often missing from discussions about today's politics - is the acknowledgement that the problem is not merely the ignorance, nor the fury.

It's the cruelty.

Ignorance and fury only account for so much of the damage and danger posed by the right these days. There's also the cruelty, the absolute malice that many of the right carry - they're not just ill-informed and wrong about politics. They're not merely misguided or angry.

They are cruel bullies looking for an outlet. Simple, and as awful, as that.
posted by jzb at 11:06 AM on September 11 [52 favorites]


Also, the atheist community, Dawkins in particular, promoted a hell of a lot of "rationalist" anti-muslim sentiment in the early 2000's that reeked of the remnants of the British Empire. Everyone but the refined, atheistic British must be barbarians stuck in the past and dragging humanity backwards.

I mean, in a way, he wasn't wrong (religion in general definitely holds us back as a species, personal opinion), but he certainly didn't fucking help with the way he presented that information.

…a white Soviet fighter. The USSR (and communism) was still the prime enemy at the time.


My point is that the Soviets, in many ways, still looked similar to Americans, and operated similarly to Americans. The Soviet fighter was blonde, blue eyed, and pale correct? He was partaking in the same sport as an American, even if he was cheating behind the scenes. He didn't suicide bomb Rocky's house to take victory, you know? He was still playing by "respectable first world people" rules or whatever the hell first world people tell themselves about how they act so they can sleep better at night. ("We're not barbarians!" he exclaimed, shifting his monocle and nearly dropping his snuff box.)

Look, while the propaganda against communism was very effective, I think there's something to be said when it comes to simpletons and people who "look different" than them and act different than them.

All the hate for communism is based on propaganda based on perceived differences, most of it genuinely lies and propaganda. It's a shakier foundation for building an Other to commit your nation against. It's far easier if your Other actually looks far different than you and is reaching for different goals than you.

The Soviets were still trying to be like America, a first world industrial nation. The language was different but they still were reaching for similar goals as Americans (ie the Space Race). The "muslim terrorist" is a brown-skinned foreigner who lives in the desert and "hates our way" of life and thinks "our god" is a sham and wants to "tear down industrial nations for their sheer opulence." (and it really doesn't help that those simplified ideas had some truth to them, that middle eastern muslims had had enough of America's fucking shit.) As George Bush put it "They hate our freedoms," and that was all rural America needed to hear. All that was way way simpler propaganda than the propaganda against communism, thus easier to reinforce in simpletons.
posted by deadaluspark at 11:11 AM on September 11 [8 favorites]


I remember being surprised by how popular culture reinforced the reactionary/fascist response after 9/11. For example, the show "24" always seemed like straight-up propaganda to justify torture and fear, and it was really popular. It also seemed like stormtroopers somehow became popular/"good guys" for some people around then, even though they had always clearly been the bad guy totalitarians before.
posted by another_20_year_lurker at 11:17 AM on September 11 [36 favorites]


I have a lot of sympathy (more than most here I'm sure) for the average young rightwing internet user, who grew up in an environment designed to harness their basic psychological fears and turn them towards pointless cruelty.

But I have no sympathy at all for rightwing comedians. Maron in particular has talked extensively about how comedians are generally pretty fucked up people and that combined with the super competitive world of stand up seems to have created a pretty pervasive persecution complex. This is where the idea of "cancel culture" got started, where every comedian who got "cancelled" actually became MORE powerful due to it but apparently still felt really persecuted.

I quite honestly think that rightwing comedians (speaking broadly so including any comedy youtubers etc) are some of the most culturally powerful people in America, and they have armies of young people who treat them very seriously. This combination of power and perceived persecution creates righteous anger that is really dangerous, and comedians seem to be at the center of it in today's culture.
posted by JZig at 11:19 AM on September 11 [12 favorites]


The Proudly Ill Informed didn't pop up out of nowhere on the day after 09/11. Stallone had been successfully pumping that crowd for a while.

This recent comment is a nice summary of Rambo’s political evolution.
posted by TedW at 11:24 AM on September 11 [8 favorites]


I just listened to an episode of Throughline on NPR recounting the Chinese treatment of the Uyghurs in Xinjiang from the Red Guard era of 1964 to present day. One point made was that 9/11 itself led to a campaign to erase a culture's language, literature, monuments and history. The sight of the falling towers was so terrifying to the then incipient current regime that they decided to essentially erase a people. It was just on air, so the podcast will be up soon. A must listen it is.
posted by y2karl at 11:33 AM on September 11 [11 favorites]


It also seemed like stormtroopers somehow became popular/"good guys" for some people around then, even though they had always clearly been the bad guy totalitarians before.

Prequel trilogy was 1999-2005, which definitely tracks for the beginning of the "Empire did Nothing Wrong" memes.
posted by deadaluspark at 11:49 AM on September 11 [2 favorites]


There’s also no analysis today of what, exactly, made the US a target in the first place. And to discuss our role in perpetuating pain and suffering on Brown People is somehow beyond the pale for reasonable conversation. Why? Because our meddling and death and constant funding of nasty, anti-democratic forces is for the sacred continuation of procuring cheap, readily available Oil at all costs in order to fuel our desperately lonesome consumerism and deadly military missions globally.

This happened because of Oil. We pursued multi-trillion dollar wars for Oil and Consumerism to continue unabated without any willingness to analyze our own flaws. We flew right into the trap Bin Laden KNEW he was setting for us.

So yeah, comedians are a natural place to look for where dividing lines are drawn because comedians, for all their problems, are a place where ideally some ideas are being discussed that make multiple sides think about the complex impact of their ideologies. Yes, Carlin’s monologues could be subsumed and used by the Proud Boys to fuel their ideologies but I would argue it’s extremely important for someone, as a comedian, to make us question exactly what the fuck an event like 9/11 means or is a result of or might cause, and in a way that is a lot lighter than the sorts of in-person conversations that hit a brick wall because the other person won’t give an inch because of their entrenched position.

Today is a very, very sad day. Not because I am choosing to “NEVER FORGET” whatever that means, but because we now see so clearly how forgotten we have become, 20 years later, without a map or guide to take us back to a place of sensibility. There is no meaning anymore, and much larger forces (COVID and Climate Change) continue to operate with the ruthless efficiency of a machine set in motion of our own doing with far more disastrous consequences.

Today could be a mark that celebrated how humanity rejected the deadly mistakes of our long history. Instead we chose to embrace the worst of our impulses for profit and gain. And hell will follow.
posted by glaucon at 11:49 AM on September 11 [32 favorites]


"The Aristocrats!"

A lot of people were choosing sides after 9/11, and it was only a few years before the rosy glow of shared national calamity had faded enough to use the towers as part of GWB's re-election campaign, to divide and conquer.
posted by the Real Dan at 12:14 PM on September 11


9/11 is when Dennis Miller went crazy, too.
posted by another_20_year_lurker at 1:52 PM on September 11 [20 favorites]


Marc Maron is a remarkably thoughtful person. I've listened to a lot of his interviews and you can see how a guest progresses from tentative or defensive to trusting and thoughtful in an amazing real time demonstration of Marc's empathy and insights. This piece is a beautiful display of all of those skills. Thank you for posting - I don't think I would've seen it otherwise.
posted by bluesky43 at 2:14 PM on September 11 [13 favorites]


In retrospect the terrorists targeted an incredibly high profile building, used as a backdrop among nearly all national news agencies during prime-time morning shows

They targeted four buildings. They hit three.
posted by BWA at 2:24 PM on September 11 [2 favorites]


And took out another when they hit the first two.
posted by y2karl at 3:22 PM on September 11 [1 favorite]


There’s also no analysis today of what, exactly, made the US a target in the first place.

We have bin Laden's own words, particularly the fatwa he issued in 1996 and (to a lesser degree) the one he issued in 1998, which are probably the best record of his motives during the period in which he was planning the attack.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:49 PM on September 11 [6 favorites]


Prequel trilogy was 1999-2005, which definitely tracks for the beginning of the "Empire did Nothing Wrong" memes.

It was pretty clear in the Prequels that Lucas saw a direct line between a democracy gearing for megawar and the onset of fascism. It was clumsy as hell and straight trash in some places but at no point was the Empire considered a good thing.
posted by schroedinger at 3:50 PM on September 11 [10 favorites]


At the intersection of humor and 9/11, I heard Harlan Ellison on 9/24 joke: "I never liked the architecture of the Twin Towers anyway. They looked like the boxes the Empire State Building and Chrysler Building came in!" We, his audience, weren't quite ready for that.
posted by Schmucko at 3:57 PM on September 11 [9 favorites]


We have bin Laden's own words, particularly the fatwa he issued in 1996 and (to a lesser degree) the one he issued in 1998, which are probably the best record of his motives during the period in which he was planning the attack.

We do. “Analysis” was wrong word on my side, perhaps “discussion” would be more appropriate. It was entirely clear what Bin Laden intended, and I tried to make that point, though poorly.

There’s no conversation between Americans today, now, about the why. And it’s worth reviewing and should be discussed.

I’ve had a few texts of remembrance and then one Amtrak porter who stated fifteen minutes ago to me that it’s also the anniversary of Benghazi, but “no one is talking about that.” Which required a superhuman amount of restraint to not just scream and yell or do something extremely regrettable.
posted by glaucon at 4:36 PM on September 11 [6 favorites]


America put on suits for the Russians but fatigues for the third world.
posted by DeepSeaHaggis at 5:24 PM on September 11 [4 favorites]


"I never liked the architecture of the Twin Towers anyway. They looked like the boxes the Empire State Building and Chrysler Building came in!"

Harlan Ellison recycled a very old Seattle joke there.

Before Safeco Plaza fka 1001 Fourth Avenue Plaza fka the Seattle-First National Bank Building was built, the Smith Tower and the Space Needle were the tallest structures on the skyline. After 1001 4th Avenue went up, it became known as
The Box the Space Needle Came In.
posted by y2karl at 5:39 PM on September 11 [7 favorites]


Rocky came out at a time when black fighters had dominated the heavyweight division for the living memory of the young target audience. He was selling a fantasy of white dominance.
brachiopod

...did you not finish Rocky? [SPOILER FOR THE FIRST ROCKY] Rocky loses to Apollo Creed. The movie is about Rocky overcoming himself, not beating a black man. It was only the increasingly-stupid sequels that turned in that direction.
posted by star gentle uterus at 6:27 PM on September 11 [14 favorites]


There’s also no analysis today of what, exactly, made the US a target in the first place.

The 96' Fatwah is an excellent example. The fact that the towers were attacked in 93' is another. The movie ' Path To Paradise' has a bomber saying " next time' The Lonegunmen thing. Mumford called the Towers ' A Homage to Giantism".

The Master Plan' by Lawrence Wright is an excellent read concerning 9/11 and after.
posted by clavdivs at 6:48 PM on September 11 [5 favorites]


My point is that the Soviets, in many ways, still looked similar to Americans, and operated similarly to Americans. The Soviet fighter was blonde, blue eyed, and pale correct?

The Soviets were beating western countries at the Olympicss but painted as robots - basically “us” but brainwashed by communist propaganda. Beating them was saving them.
posted by brachiopod at 7:11 PM on September 11


The big thing I saw is that people felt okay being openly racist again — in the 90s, David Duke ran for office and the Republicans quickly distanced themselves from him. Today, his views are an increasingly mainstream part of Republican ideology

what

Rodney King was 91. the LA riots were in 92. I'm pretty sure I had some really shitty experiences as a young Asian-American growing up in the 90s as a result of interacting with my classmates, their parents, and from the media. if you were to livestream MTV from the era, I'm positive there would be some really horrible caricatures because I sure as hell don't remember anybody being a positive APIDA role model (and no, Jackie Chan being a goofy dude who couldn't speak English well was not a positive role model, thanks)

are you confusing 'overt white supremacy' with 'racism' or is this just about invalidating the lived experience of POC from the 90s lol
posted by paimapi at 7:16 PM on September 11 [18 favorites]


also (cw: anti-Black racist slur) Lee Atwater was admitting to Republicans being covert white supremacists in the 80s (which they are, but so were establishment 'no bussing Biden' Dems). the huge crime bill that's being incredibly slowly limited (again, thanks Biden) was also the 90s. people were not saying very kind things about Jesse Jackson in the 90s, iirc

maybe it's easy to not notice how fucking openly racist things were in the 90s if you didn't experience it yourself but aside from white people telling me how much they love Simu Liu (for playing a part in a franchise owned by a company that has historically perpetuated extremely racist and classist beliefs, and perpetuates many of the same today), it doesn't feel like a whole lot has changed
posted by paimapi at 7:28 PM on September 11 [9 favorites]


Marc Maron is a remarkably thoughtful person. I've listened to a lot of his interviews and you can see how a guest progresses from tentative or defensive to trusting and thoughtful in an amazing real time demonstration of Marc's empathy and insights. This piece is a beautiful display of all of those skills. Thank you for posting - I don't think I would've seen it otherwise.

Likewise, having listened to Maron across a lot of years, I've witnessed his own growth process. He's basically been performing a form of therapy in front of his audience, and he's done from unreflexive anger in situations to processing and making choices and making better choices than before.

He's someone who's done the work, and he's commenting on those who haven't done the work. We don't, in our culture, teach people how to do the work. It's a miracle anyone figures it out, and Maron seemed Quite Unlikely at the beginning of his journey.

I suppose that means there's hope for a lot of us.
posted by hippybear at 7:44 PM on September 11 [22 favorites]


paimapi: sorry, I wasn’t trying to minimize that experience but rather talk about how the white self-representation — there was tons of heinous stuff going on but it seemed like the political class at least felt pressure to distance themselves from it more (the covert part of that Atwater bit). The common portrayal was that this was uneducated hicks, etc. — not those nice patricians who went to Yale or Harvard.

I’m sure a hefty part of that was that pitching the “land of opportunity where anyone can succeed” message was a great way to dismiss anyone’s problems as “they didn’t try hard enough”, conveniently allowing them to do nothing about systemic problems, but there did seem to be some sense that there were certain views you’d keep secret which seems gone in an era where Tucker is seeing how close he can get to stating untranslated neo-Nazi concepts on air.
posted by adamsc at 7:54 PM on September 11 [2 favorites]


did you not finish Rocky?

The comment you’re replying to seems like a dubious characterization of where either of Rocky or Rambo started, but they both pulled to the right and away from subtlety from there. Says a lot about the 80s I guess.
posted by atoxyl at 8:37 PM on September 11 [1 favorite]


You're gonna tell me Carlin's "it's a big club and we ain't in it" isn't a point of view?

I don't think that was at all the point being made by anhedonic or the comic in the linked article of their post. The point was that someone who is a comedian and trans is labeled as a "trans comedian" and criticized for supposedly being only about their trans identity, but a white male comedian is just a comedian, even though white maleness is also an identity/perspective/point-of-view, what-have-you. In other words, not that there are comics who don't "push a point of view", but that it is hypocritical to disqualify/pigeonhole/dismiss someone based on an identity that doesn't fit the mainstream default, even though the mainstream default is just as much an identity despite being taken as "natural" and "objective." Or, white is a color too.
posted by Saxon Kane at 8:49 PM on September 11 [26 favorites]


did you not finish Rocky?

Rocky was severely damaging Apollo Creed in the closing seconds of the contest. Rocky lost on points, on a judge's decision but he salvaged his own (and white) dignity. For a certain generation, Rocky and Rambo are looked back on as cool late 70s/ 80s action movies but at the time, some people saw these films as part of a sickening devolution. Rocky was stupid in a novel way
posted by brachiopod at 9:10 PM on September 11


…and by “Rocky” being stupid in a novel way, I mean both the film and the character.
posted by brachiopod at 9:16 PM on September 11


Not entirely sure when the Maron article mentioned Rocky...

There's an interesting discussion to be had about that, but is this that thread?
posted by hippybear at 9:21 PM on September 11 [8 favorites]


Earlier on, just said that the Proudly Ill Informed didn’t spring out of the ether on 09/11. I’ll let it go now.
posted by brachiopod at 9:29 PM on September 11


Rocky loses to Apollo Creed

There's kind of a through-line with the whole cult of the Noble Failure that Fintan O'Toole identifies in English nationalism. I think of Rocky to some extent as another Urban Decay movie, asking with Death Wish and other "rotting cities" propaganda. "We (burdened white men) tried, but They were too many/well-funded/dishonorable, and so Civilization now begins its decline."

It rhymes with the observation that the enemies of a Fascist state must always be bumbling & comically incompetent while simultaneously being infinitely subtle masters of long-game treachery.

As for this anti-woke comedy, if you prefer a milder comedian, please ask for Jeff Dunham or Bill Engvall. I am a Comedy Traditionalist - the purpose of the Fool in a well-functioning State is to remind the King where Wisdom lies. Making fun of unfamiliar headgear ain't that.
posted by Rat Spatula at 9:56 PM on September 11 [6 favorites]


I really loved '24' when it came out. I naively thought that it was a parody of the rah-rah Americanism of the time. The use of torture was so blatantly absurd that I didn't take it seriously. I really thought it was satire. To be honest, I still think that the original creators might have had the same idea.

Then, suddenly, there were congresspeople citing the situations put forth in '24' as some kind of legitimate threat. What I thought of as TV exaggeration suddenly became what many people felt were real grievances. There were actually people citing a TV show as a good reason for torturing people.

I can honestly say that '24' is the reason that I am not really keen on satire today. I have enjoyed a lot of satire in my time, and I could see myself enjoying it in the future... but there are just too many people that don't see satire for what it is, and take it at face value. I've realized that a momentary entertainment for me can really do societal damage. As absurd as it still seems to me, I have to admit that it's true.
posted by Quonab at 10:27 PM on September 11 [14 favorites]


As absurd as it still seems to me, I have to admit that it's true.

There was nothing about 24 that was presented as it being satire. It was marketed as a cop/investigation/thriller show with a twist -- each hour of the show would take place in real time and the entire season would be one day in the lives of the characters.

I suppose satire might be in the eye of the beholder in this case, because I don't think your point of view about the show was reflected by the viewing public at large or, indeed, by the show creators. In fact, Wikipedia has an entire page devoted to the critical reactions to 24. ctrl-F "satire" yields nothing.
posted by hippybear at 6:45 AM on September 12 [6 favorites]


9/11 is when Dennis Miller went crazy, too.

He was crazy long before that. It’s just after 9/11 everyone finally noticed it and realized it wasn’t a bit he was doing.
posted by jmauro at 7:18 AM on September 12 [2 favorites]


WRT 24, this New Yorker article from '07 makes it very clear that Joel Surnow, its creator, was dead serious about the claims and worldview that the show put forth, and stuck to them even after interrogation experts from the military visited with him to make the point that he was factually wrong about them.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:21 AM on September 12 [19 favorites]


Eop's Wall? Sufficiently brazen propaganda becomes indistinguishable from satire?

I didn't have that reaction to 24 -- just the annoyance of getting pulled into the story before realizing that it was just the same old propaganda with a trivial gimmick added -- but I have definitely slammed into Eop's Wall on many other occasions.
posted by Not A Thing at 9:46 AM on September 12 [1 favorite]


I'm not at all convinced it would have been hard to pick out the racist, reactionary comics in the year 2000. Rather than the event that caused the tribalization in intertainment, this seems to have been the event that caused even people like Marc Maron to start paying attention. Which also important. But, not nearly as grandiose.
posted by eotvos at 10:11 AM on September 12 [3 favorites]


paimapi: “Rodney King was 91. the LA riots were in 92.”
I just listened to this re-air of the You're Wrong About episode talking about Dan Quayle vs Murphy Brown and I had the realization the Republicans are running the exact same playbook as 1992 right now.
posted by ob1quixote at 10:59 AM on September 12 [6 favorites]


but there are just too many people that don't see satire for what it is, and take it at face value.

See also, Verhoeven's Starship Troopers.
posted by Pryde at 1:13 PM on September 12 [1 favorite]


See also, Verhoeven's Starship Troopers.

Ah, but Verhoeven intended his film as satire.
posted by hippybear at 1:38 PM on September 12 [1 favorite]


David Reese chose a side very quickly and Get Your War On was soon a staple of my webcomic digest in 2002 or so. Less than a month after 9/11, he had posted the first installment of Get Your War On.

Still a classic.
posted by deadaluspark at 2:54 PM on September 12 [19 favorites]


The Boondocks did too, in the daily paper… it’s worth it to click through some of those.
posted by donatella at 9:43 PM on September 12 [5 favorites]


Cops premiered on the Fox network in 1989, was cancelled in 2013, and was soon picked up by Spike TV (which rebranded as the Paramount Network in 2018). After nationwide protests following George Floyd's murder by Minneapolis police, Paramount dropped the show from its lineup; it was back in production and filming in Spokane within four months, though "A spokesperson for Cops producer Langley Prods. told Deadline that the show is producing fresh episodes for international territories only, and there are no plans for them to air in the U.S." Cops returns via the Fox Nation streaming app on Oct. 1.

Fox Nation said it would donate $5 to a nonprofit organization called Answer the Call for each new subscriber who signs up between Monday and Sept. 20. (Actual first responders are eligible for a free one-year subscription.) Answer the Call provides financial support to the families of New York City first responders killed in the line of duty.
posted by Iris Gambol at 7:01 PM on September 13 [2 favorites]


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