Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Weekly Jackass Number Six : Janeane Garofalo

Janeane Garofalo is a comedienne of considerable talent. I have been aware of her comedy for some time, and considered myself a fan. I watched her standup TV specials, laughed at her work on the Larry Sanders Show, and I even went to see her perform at the Paramount Theater in Austin a couple of years ago. That's when the trouble started. I was having a great time with my date when, at about the mid-point of the show, she started in on the Bush-bashing. Many laughed; a sizeable part of the crowd did not. Garofalo nervously said something along the lines of 'Shouldn't have said that in Bush country'. Let me share something about Austin with you, if you're unfamiliar with my neck of the woods: it is most decidedly NOT Bush country. Austin is an extremely liberal town, like most towns with a major university, in a conservative state. John Kerry got two-thirds of the Austin vote. No Austin City Council member would dare hang the label 'Republican' around his or her neck. People didn't laugh because (1) it was still to close to 9/11, and (2) the humor was very cruel.

Garofalo should not be criticized for opposing Bush, or even for saying it, but she goes over the line of fair discourse again and again. Some examples:
'...[The media] have to stop using dishonest language like "partial-birth abortions", which doesn't exist, and "Unborn Victims Act", which doesn't exist...there is no such thing as a Pro-Life, Pro-War, Pro-Gun, Pro-Death Penalty Christian. This administration has shown no regard for religion, and no regard for women and children in any of their legislation.'

Garofalo:..the Patriot Act passed in the fear of the aftermath of 9/11. It was passed very hastily. It was passed without any congressional scrutiny, because this administration operates like a private corporation, no public oversight, no congressional scrutiny.�
Carlson: �What are you talking about?�
Garofalo: �Don't pretend you don't know what I'm talking about. You have to live here, too, Tucker. And you pretend. And you've got to live with this, too.�
Carlson, mocking her: �It is a conspiracy, Janeane. I agree with that. We're powerless, not really a democracy.�
Garofalo, at same time as Carlson and in a comment missed by the CNN transcribers for the posted transcript: �It is in fact a conspiracy of the 43rd Reich.� - Garofalo co-hosting Crossfire

Mike Barnacle: �Who do you regard as a bigger threat to world peace: George Bush, or Saddam Hussein?�
Garofalo : �I say at this point, for different reasons, they are both very threatening to world peace and to deny that is to be incredibly naive. Right now we are on the brink of global catastrophe. That's why eight million people around the world hit the streets, almost none of them actors, on Saturday. And that's why there is so much resistance to this. This is a manufactured war at this point. There has been a war on the people of Iraq since 1990. The plan to go into Iraq for hegemony over the region has been in play for a very long time and the ideologues in this administration want to go in.�

We are living in neo-McCarthy, post-democratic times. Democracy is being criminalized. Democracy is being ignored.
...a lot of people who like to wrap themselves in the flag, hide behind Jesus, and be aggressive -- some of those people are not intellectual powerhouses. So that's why they cleave into very us-vs.-them, black-and-white visions of the world. They have an almost pridefully parochial worldview and a Darwinian philosophy that these times of war serve them very well.
I went back and read some interviews with Garofalo while putting this piece together. The shame is that she asked some quite reasonable questions about the war - how long will we be there, how good is the evidence of a direct threat, etc. - questions that now look wise in retrospect. Given her talent and intelligence, I can only assume that her hatred of Bush is so great that it has just consumed her and her career, and that's too bad. She really was funny, once, a long time ago.

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