When it comes to the comic-turned-political theorist sect, no one is more notorious that the pugnacious face of HBO’s “Real Time,” Bill Maher. Interestingly, none of Maher’s belligerence was on display in his discussion with alt-right author, Milo Yiannopoulos. According to a report of the program from the NY Times,
Despite a brief flare-up of controversy that preceded it, a conversation between Milo Yiannopoulos, the incendiary right-wing author and lecturer, and Bill Maher, the comedian and host of HBO’s “Real Time,” on that program Friday night was a largely docile, chummy affair. There was little conflict or cross-examination, as both men chided the political left for avoiding or drowning out Mr. Yiannopoulos’s views rather than engaging with them.
Introducing Mr. Yiannopoulos, 32, an openly gay editor at Breitbart News, Mr. Maher said: “I think you’re colossally wrong on a number of things. But if I banned everyone from my show who I thought was colossally wrong, I would be talking to myself.”
As a critic of media and celebrity culture, it’s always good to check in with a re-watch of the 1976 film, “Network,” a fictional tale about Howard Beale, a TV newscaster-turned-messianic “truth-teller” about the reality of television as a nefarious shaper and acculturating tool of American life. So accurate a depiction of the world to come, screenwriter Aaron Sorkin said about the film, “no predictor of the future — not even Orwell — has ever been as right as Chayefsky was when he wrote ‘Network.'”
Are people finally mad as hell?
Beyond the film’s warning about television news turning sensational, was the background story of corporate buyouts that forced the newsrooms to become profit-centers of their own. Traditionally, media news departments operated at a loss, which was covered by the entertainment divisions of the networks. But once the networks had to answer to a higher authority, the laws of capitalism crushed the needs of the citizenry for an objective press, leading to programs like Real Time, and celebrity blowhards like Bill Maher sucking up the airwaves.
Partners is hate
While Bill Maher’s match up with Breitbart News senior editor Milo Yiannopoulos was promoted in the week leading up to the Friday live broadcast of Real Time as a media boxing match, the actual interview was more of a hate-mongers love match. While Yiannopoulos was firing up his hate women lines, Maher couldn’t pass up insulting every practicing Catholic. While they didn’t have time to hold hands in hate for Muslims, that’s a well-known given.
What Maher and Yiannopoulos claim as carrying the torch of “free speech” in their hate-mongering is nothing but a cheap whitewashing of the First Amendment, has nothing to do with public service, and everything do to with building their celebrity brands and media platforms. The only solution, as implored by Network’s Howard Beale forty years ago, is to free yourself from the madness by disconnecting from corporate media as a whole. Boycotting your television is a good starting place.
Celebrities are the problem. #TermLimits4Celebs is the solution.