Thursday, May 08, 2008

Turn Off (NUMBERS) and Tune Out (George Carlin)

Reprinted from The Talon

In 1984 I attended a George Carlin comedy show and he was so funny for so long that by the time intermission rolled around my sides ached and I was afraid I would break a rib from laughing so hard.

Back then, Carlin was funny.

Seven years later I saw another of his routines in a much smaller venue. The only good thing I can say about that show was that the warm-up act was really, really good, and far outshone the main event.

What happened in between? First, Carlin dumped the long list of scatological and sexual references that had grown out of the original Seven Words You Can't Say on Television for more sophisticated, philosophical, pseudo-intellectual humor.

I realize that his previous humor had been juvenile and low brow, but it was still funny. Occasional cuts at the government or society were included and he often hit on something or another that we Americans do that seemed strange or funny if we took the time to think about it.

Then somewhere along the way Carlin started taking himself seriously. He seemed to think he had become a philosopher, wise and worth heeding. He poked fun at everything American, and everyone who was part of the mainstream. We were all foolish, myopic, brain-dead losers devoid of original thought. He was the only clear thinker among us.

Which was why his show suffered, his audience dwindled and he was playing much smaller venues.

Then, one night last week, when I was working late in my office, I turned on the television only to see Carlin doing an HBO special. He looked very old, ill in fact, stooped, and raspy. He was predictably ridiculing everything and everyone that was not him. He took shots at the president, he took shots at the Republican Party - unlike Lewis Black who hammers politicians of all stripes with equal vigor, Carlin just picks on Republicans - and he lambasted corporate America which according to him is responsible for all the world's ills.

Then, in a mere soundbite that left me both shocked and angry, Carlin ridiculed America's war dead whose remains rest in cemeteries around the world! His implication was that they had been suckered into fighting for our country, and died like so many mindless lemmings, for trumped up causes that they didn't have the sense to avoid.

Considering that most of the cemeteries for America's soldiers on foreign lands are for WWII veterans, this statement was all the more shocking. I have never heard anyone ridicule those who served in WWII as though they had a choice about where and when they would stand up to Nazis, fascists and the Japanese.

I have always believed we also did right in standing up to communists in Korea and Vietnam. They were no better than the Nazis and fascists. For some reason, the wars in Korea and Vietnam became issues of debate, while for most of the world's citizens who lived during WWII, there was little question about the where and when of fighting.

It was even more shocking that this criticism of our war dead came from a guy who has grown rich availing himself of the very freedoms that so many Americans died to preserve. Fighting against forces who, if they had prevailed, most definitely would NOT have allowed Carlin to say the things about them that he says about us.

I turned off the Carlin show because I was so outraged at him and HBO. The next non-news show I watched was on Friday night when the show NUMBERS came on at 10 p.m. That show started out as a crime drama in which two brothers, one an FBI agent, the other a brilliant college math professor, work together to solve major crimes.

Nice concept - for a while. Then, like most TV shows, the character development stretched into who was sleeping with whom, some scenes approached soft-porn, and a decided anti-military twist emerged.

The proof of this was a segment last year in which a Marine veteran of the Iraq War comes home and shoots two murderers. He takes off for Mexico, and stays there until last Friday's show when members of his unit try to track him down so he wouldn't spill the beans about all the mayhem, torture and slaughter they had engaged in against innocent civilians in Iraq.

Mortars leveling homes filled with innocent women and children, Marines shooting civilians for no reason and torturing the unfortunate until they begged for death. Oh Yeah, that's our guys all over.

I couldn't help but think back a month when Eagles Up and other pro-troop organizations stood vigil in Silver Springs Maryland as the Iraq Veterans Against the War attempted to re-create John Kerry's infamous Winter Soldier investigation from back in the 70s. That was when he and others of his ilk lied about the conduct of American soldiers in Vietnam, branding us as baby killers, murderers and worse.
Investigations later revealed that nearly all of Kerry's "witnesses" were liars, who didn't serve where and when they said they did, or at all, but that was never widely publicized.

In Maryland we demanded that the IVAW "witnesses" identify themselves by name, rank, unit, time and place in Iraq, other witnesses who saw what they said they saw, and further demanded that they agree to testify under oath to the alleged atrocities they allegedly witnessed. None would. Their event was a bust.

A bust just like the ill-conceived cases against the Haditha Marines and other members of the armed forces who have been falsely accused of war crimes in Iraq. Cases that are falling likes houses of cards. Never fear though. The left owns Hollywood and if they can't damage the American military one way, they'll do it another.

I turned off NUMBERS just as I had turned off Carlin, and I can guarantee that my family won't be watching it any more either. There are other things to do on Friday nights. We can rent a movie, or maybe even turn in early. I have several seasons worth of Magnum P.I. shows that are always worth watching that are far better entertainment than the slop CBS is offering up.

I recommend that course of action for anyone who cares about our military and our veterans. When I say No More Vietnam's, I mean no more sabotage and treachery, in the media, in the government, in politics and in the entertainment industry.

As for Carlin, he just reminds me of an irrelevant curmudgeon. And eventually he go the way we all will go and take his ill temper with him. But since Andy Rooney already has a lock on the curmudgeon identity, it looks like the only thing that will be left for Carlin's tombstone is "Irrelevant."


John said...

The HBO was free that weekend so I thought I'd catch the Carlin act myself. I'm glad I didn't pay for it and I'll never sign up for HBO after seeing the what they call entertainment. You are absolutely right about tuning out George Carlin.

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