Saturday, May 8, 2010

I Bet Leno Won't Try to Steal HIS Show...

It was only a matter of time.

Envelope pushing in this life is a lot like drugs or booze, et al.

The more you do, the more you want, or even have, to do in order to achieve the same effect.

In this instance, the desired effect is rattling people's cages.

Ladies and gentlemen....the comedy stylings of...


That paragon of conservative values, Comedy Central, is working with some folks on an animated series about everybody's favorite Savior (well, everybody except those who embrace any of the world's umpteen other recognized religions and, of course, that one group that seems unable to express the beliefs in any other way than flying innocent passenger filled airliners into innocent office worker filled skyscrapers).

Here's the link to the the scoop, if you're interested and, ergo, likely a heathen, a Democrat or a seven year old.

I've never had a problem with satire.

I'm one of those people who think that our sense of humor is legitmately one of the tiles that God uses when he puts together the mosaic that is our being.

Humor is, like almost everything else though, a subjective thing.

I, for example, appreciate what the gang at Monty Python has done through the years while, truth be told, honestly remember only ever laughing out loud at something they did a couple of times...including the first time I saw the Dead Parrot Sketch.

And despite the tendancy to romanticize all of it a brilliant, hilarious, cutting edge comedy, my instincts are that if you took every single bit that SNL has done in almost forty years of on air work, the acutal belly laughs would take up less than twenty minutes total, give or take.

You don't have to be one of the flock, though, to see what's coming if this series makes it to the weekly roster.

Cries of foul from every single being on the planet with a fish on the back of their Camry.

Personally, my problem with the idea isn't so much about the Lord. (Although, Lord knows, it probably should be...)

It's about the Lazy.

For a long time, the path of least creative energy effort has been T&A.

When you can't think of anything sincerely funny or clever or witty, you can pretty much get people's attention with boobs and butts.

And, of course, anything and everything scatalogical comes right out of that same folder.

Admittedly, at least from a dollars and cents point of view, there's no arguing with the success of that approach.

Fess up....take the high gloss shine of "quality actors" like Jon Cryer and Charlie Sheen out of the equation and isn't the ragingly successful "Two and Half Men" just a twenty three minute weekly potpourri of T&A/fart jokes?

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

It's just lazy.

And it's lazy of us to laugh at it.

Because that kind of humor requires no thought, no education, no sophistication, no finely honed and/or tuned sense of wit or wisdom to agitate and fire off the funny bone.

And, fair being fair, who wants to do all that brain work after a hard day at the nine to five anyway?

But, let's not fool ourselves, either.

It's nothing more, or less, than the middle aged equivalent of the kid in the back of the class who always got us to laugh when he made fart noises with his armpit.

When we were six.

Given that this project is coming from the same network that brings us the one show I'm pretty sure has never showed up on the Sarah Palin family flat screen, South Park, I think it's not a stretch to assume that the show won't be offering weekly lessons and morals of the story in the spirit of say "Highway To Heaven" or "Touched By An Angel", for example.

It will most likely be more of that kid in the back of the class making fart noises with his armpit.

Only the kid will be wearing a long robe and bear a striking resemblance to an animated version of Barry Gibb of the Bee Gees. (I've always wondered why the touchy type Christian faithful haven't raised more Hell about that very common depiction...)

And the inevitable result will be that heathens, Democrats and seven year olds (of all ages) will laugh and laugh and laugh.

Ratings will zoom and "JC" will be around just long enough to put all of us in increased danger of looking around one Tuesday prime time evening to find that we've been "left behind"

The thing we seem to forget, as we grow older, is that laughing at that kid in the back of the class didn't result in better, wittier, funnier material being offered us.

It just encouraged the kid to keep flapping that arm and abusing that pit.

It isn't in my character, flawed or un, to be offended by much of what TV spews out.

That's always seemed like giving in to their desire to rattle me.

So, view and let view, I'd say.

On the other hand, if , just once, I stumble across a clip of little, stocky folks scurrying across the animated screen yelling "they've KILLED Jesus", I'm gonna reconsider my no letters to the FCC policy.

My fear is that, given the apparent taste of the general viewing public, the show will not only succeed, but flourish, resulting in a cottage industry, T Shirts and all.

Even a bumper sticker hyping the next week's show.


What WILL Jesus Do Next Week?

As for me, I've already got a plan.

Continuing, while "JC" is airing, to be safely tuned to USA to enjoy back to back to back to back episodes of NCIS.

While tightly gripping the shirt tail of any sincerely devoted Christian who might be in the room at the time.

Just in case.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

"Give Me Liberty...Or I'll Just Sneak In...."

Knee bone connected to the thigh bone.

Thigh bone connected to the hip bone.

Hip bone connected to the...

You get the idea.

If that little ditty doesn't ring a bell, by the way, shut down the Wii, turn off your IPod/IPad and get your damn homework done.

I revisit the old bone littany because it occurs to me that there is a cause and effect relationship in human beings that I don't believe has ever been covered in conventional medical texts.

The connection between passion and stupidity.

Admittedly, there may be empirical medical evidence of a biophysical synaptic chain reaction occuring when passion comes surging along through our veins and/or nerve fibers.

I haven't really done any seriously deep research.

Hey, if I had wanted to be a doctor, I would have started working on crappy handwriting and improving my backswing right out of high school.

I don't need any medical texts, though, to know that the connection is there and totally functioning.

In its more primal instances, it manifests in immoral, even amoral, behavior.

As in, passion, in the form of lust, for example, wells, blood rushes from head to loins and stupid is as stupid does.

I can't speak to any documentation of the phenomenon in medical texts.

But the tabloids are chockablock full.

Tiger. Jesse.


In a more insidious form, though, the passion/stupid syndrome presents cloaked in a robe of well intentionism and do-goodism.

Still, however, generally resulting in less than brilliant behavior.

And it seems to show no prejuidice for social strata, appearing pretty naturally and automatically across all sociological groups.

From the essentially harmless, but nevertheless stupid, behavior of most hockey fans.

To, in its more extreme instances, something as spectacularly stupid as the Klan.

This burst of layman's diagnostic pondering came to me this week as I have read and/or discussed the brouhaha stirred up by the passage of the Arizona immigration law.

Something that inevitably arouses our passions.

And something that, just as inevitably, brings out the the stupid in us.

But the passage of the law wasn't the beginning of the whole passion/stupid chain reaction.

For that, you have to go back to the genesis of the creation of the law in the first place.

Passion in the form of anger.

Or, perhaps more appropriately, resentment.

At the very least...frustration.

And, again, while I don't have an M.D., a PhD. or even HBO (hey, we're all pinching pennies these days, oui?), I can see, even through the haze of all my human weaknesses and prejuidices, the exact place in the pond where the rock hit, causing all these ripples.

America is tired of not being America anymore.

And that weariness is starting to make a lot of people who wouldn't necessarily say, let alone think, things that might be interpreted as socially and/or racially prejudicial are starting to freely let fly with things that can pretty much be interpreted as socially and/or racially prejudicial.

For a while now, we've tried to retain some sense of civility about it, expressing our dismay in subtle ways.

I long ago suspected that those "America-Love it or Leave It" bumper stickers were aimed as much at illegals as they were at those whose political views were in contrast to those of the bumperer.

Then, as feelings (translation: passions) grew more, well, passionate, the "in cheek" gave way to the "in your face".

As in the newest cottage industry: TShirts, bumperstickers, Facebook pages, et al with pretty much one theme/slogan:

"I am an American...I shouldn't HAVE to press 1 for English."

From here, Lord only knows what the next "there" will be in answer to the question
where do we go from here?"

One thing is sure, though.

It will involve stupidity.

Like, for example, the Arizona law.

A law that meets the aforementioned criteria of being wrapped in cloak of well-intentionism and do-goodism.

In this case, the stupidity is not in the why but in the how.

The law simply won't work.

Because it certainly won't solve the problem and it will , bet the hacienda, just ramp up passions.

Ergo, ramp up stupidity.

Because even the wheel on the short bus goes round and round.

As with every good intention that ends up paving the road, though, there is a kernal of common sense lying patiently under the pile created by the shit storm and waiting to be harvested and replanted in a more fertile field of revision and reform.

It occurs to me that, in this case, that common sense might go a little something like this:

Visualize, for a moment, America as a spectacular country club with all the appointments and opportunites one would expect from such a facility.

And, add to that vision, the remarkable knowledge that, unlike many posh, prestigious clubs, America does not restrict its membership and does, in fact, welcome man, woman, child or any race, creed, color, gender, religion, sexual persuasion and/or political point of view.

And to join the club, all one need do is meet a few simple, basic and completely reasonable requirements.

In fact, it's almost easier to join this club than it is to get through the license/tag gauntlet at the local DMV.

All one must do is meet the requirements for membership.

Though, in this club, its called something else.

It's called citizenship.

Learn the club lingo (language), promise to be a member in good standing (affirm that you won't blow the club up) and you can pretty much do whatever you want from there on out.

As a full fledged, and authorized, member of the club.

In recent years, though, the club has seen some wear and tear.

Because those members who have honored those simple commitments and who have every right to enjoy the club's facilities have had to endure a deterioration of club services caused, almost exclusively, by an influx of people who either can't or won't make the effort to join the club.

Simply put, there is usually no room for members to enjoy the pool anymore because it is filled, side to side, diving board to shallow end, with folks who got in by digging under the fence and sneaking past the check in desk.

Not to mention the tremendous drain on club resources and supplies by those gate crashers who freely use the facilities without helping to replenish in the form of the dues that card carrying members pony up.

And the members in good standing ,upset that their willingness to make it easy for new members to join, only naturally resent that that hospitality is being abused.

And that resentment becomes anger.

That anger becomes passionate.

And stupidity is sure to follow.

No reasonable person would be offended by being politely asked to offer evidence that they are a member of the club they are trying to enter and enjoy.

From fitness clubs to social clubs to Sam's Club, each of us are asked for, and offer up, that evidence every single day.

Arizona is, however ineptly, trying to post a greeter at the door to check membership cards.

Good luck.

Because reasonable people already have, or are getting, membership cards.

The rest will rely on inflamed passions to cover their tracks.

Because they already know what I just figured out.

Passion can make us stupid.