It’s Real Time For Bill Maher To Move On

For years, I have been sitting on an article about the continuing erosion of Bill Maher’s relevance in politics and pop culture in general. On the right-wing liberal boogeyman Mt. Rushmore his face resides amongst Michael Moore, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Jimmy Carter…wait this analogy is getting out of hand…still, Maher is that “Go-To” Liberal that conservatives love to hate. Boo-hiss and all that!

It wasn’t until The AV Club published the article “Bill Maher isn’t just politically incorrect — he’s politically irrelevant”  that elucidated my newfound notion and this post too outlines much of what I think as well. Bill Maher is white knuckling his relevancy in the face of old age and being sent packing.

mahermug1
Laugh

At 61 years old, Maher will soon be hearing more and more people suggest he hit the dusty trail along with his other late night compatriots David Letterman and Jay Leno, both of whom fucked off from the late night grind at around six decades on this earth. Unlike Leno and Letterman, however, Maher hasn’t had nearly the platform or impact that I assume he thinks he deserves and increasingly is trying to raise his profile to justify HBO keeping him on the air for a few more years.

There is plenty of younger, more relevant comedians champing at the bit to host a show not too dissimilar to Real Time, and would have no issues filling seats for the panel. It’s not as if any of Maher’s guests are “big gets’ and it took him Obama’s entire presidency to get him to do a sit down interview. He gave the man a million dollars in his 2008 re-election bid and Obama couldn’t even bother to cast a shadow on the Real Time set? Maher had to truck to D.C. and do some ball washing, limp interview that clearly wasn’t worth the million dollars.

mahermug2
Laugh

Funnily enough the current season of Real Time has been given a new overall, new set and new intro song with the salvo of “We’re still here.” said smugly by a smirking Bill Maher mugging the camera/audience for a laugh break. Which is another current issue with Real Time: the forced laughter?

You could just set a laugh track from Maher’s opening monologue, and the viewer at home wouldn’t know a difference. Better yet, it would mask the bevy of bombs that seem to inhabit the stale opening moments of the show where Maher insists on the antiquated “hot takes of the week” monologue. Last weeks episode included a bomb so heavy that Bill Maher insisted “Laugh.” after the punch line died of loneliness. His next guest, Republican Darrel Issa, even made a joke about it (at 4m14s) in his segment.

AND he got to fire off another topical Caitlyn Jenner punchline! Hooray! At least it wasn’t a Sarah Palin joke…so relevant!

This antiquated “Late Night” comedic vibe is what makes the show such a nonstarter anymore. A nearly an hour the show is a ten pound bag of shit trying to squeeze in to a five pound bag. If there ever are a panel of quests that start having a compelling conversation on the weeks topic, it is most assuredly ground down so that Maher can insert a dick joke or move on to a bit that is essentially “Republicans are dumb!” or “Religion is dumb!”

The AV Club talks a bit about Maher giving right-wing firebrands a platform with which to spew their frothy shit with little pushback, and that is indeed the case for the most part. He recently had to admonish his audience to “be nice” when introducing Ann Coulter recently, so she could crow about calling the Trump presidency, on top of a bunch of other racist bullshit that Maher just didn’t even bother pushing back on. This rhetorical trick of letting “sunshine be the best disinfectant” only works if your audience is smart enough to understand how ridiculous people like Ann Coulter and Milo Yiannopoulos are!

To conservatives, they see those two on a platform such as Real Time and that legitimizes the crazy bullshit that froth out of them. If they weren’t full of baloney, why would they be allowed such a “great” platform as Bill Maher offers?

This idea of “sunlight is the best disinfectant” only works if any sun actually shows up. In these kid glove interviews, Maher essentially takes a back seat and states that the person is indeed crazy, but so much fun o have on and offers no real push-back to anything. That the bulk of right-wing ideologues never grace the panel stage is proof enough to this. Why get contested on your silly bullshit when you can have ten minutes (or so) of uninterrupted frothing bullshit lies masked as truth and facts while Maher preens and mugs to the audience?

mahermug4
Laugh

The panel segment itself isn’t so bad when the right alchemy of guests is there, but for the most part, it never is. Moreover, why should there be compelling guests and discussion when they’re hurried through so many topics that wind up with one or two panelists trying their damnedest to spew political rhetoric and not actually discuss the issues. There was a sliver of a time where Maher would do post-show fact checks of the more erroneous guests, then quickly realized that the bulk of his republican guests were just making shit up. You cannot bring them back on if you call them out, so it was quietly dropped.

This to me is endemic of the more galling nature of Real Time not really offering of substance to a viewer; sure, if you’re a young college liberal atheist, then there is plenty on offer for you. Nevertheless, as one surely ages and gains real ideological knowledge, Bill Maher loses a lot of his liberal folksy charm. He offers no real solutions outside the purview of what Maher is really in to: weed, no religion…Caitlyn Jenner?

Maher’s problem is more a general problem that has ensnared the left wing in the nigh decade of cool president Obama. Liberals just got lazy, and since they couldn’t rail against the president for fear of looking uncool…or racist…they let shit slide and stop worrying about facts, graphs and figures and started leaning on emotional arguments masked as “common sense solutions” to problems that demanded much more nuance and thought than that.

mahermug3
Laugh

I don’t agree that Maher is being reckless with his platform, as the AV Club and others suggest, he’s just trying to stay relevant in a time that has already left him behind. Perhaps it’s time he rolls one last fatty in the Real Time studio and say his goodbyes while he’s still smugly self appointedly on top.

Advertisements
It’s Real Time For Bill Maher To Move On

Mediocracy: How the Democratization of The Internets is Ruining Entertainment

If I ever get a hold of a time machine, the first thing I’m going to do…or more like near the top of my list of “’Things To Do’(if I get a hold of a time machine)” is go back to 2007. I will find and slap that me who thought that the democratization of The Internets was going to be a great thing. Then tell 2007 Me to start a YouTube channel. It doesn’t have to be of any quality, just know that in a decade I will be able to make a living off it.

I would return to present day and make thrones of all the YouTube cash!

I didn’t start treating YouTube like an entertainment vehicle until very recently. I started in earnest back in 2014, in the wake of #gamergate, when this seemed to be one of the few outlets where you could find any real information on the topic. Sure, you could read what had floated up to the mainstream: a bunch of sad, lonely, neck bearded goony men were harassing women, or you could browse a few YouTube videos that broke down the real reasons, and perhaps a little guiding light as to what to do next.

ytb2

As it is well known, #gamergate became a punch line and shorthand in the games press, and “we” all moved on.

The YouTubers I started following changed course or discovered, as I had, that there was a lot more going on outside of the games realm when it came to social justice. To say nothing of how the games press was failing to do its job, it then proffered the notion that the mainstream press itself wasn’t doing anything either! Instead of investigating something like a #gamergate, the mainstream press looked to the games press and just copy/pasted their words and moved on.

With The Internets being a content machine that constantly needs to be fed, of course these YouTubers I was following weren’t going to cut it. Doubly, you can only listen to the same rhetoric of “Look at these silly SJWs” before you move on. Nevertheless, that doesn’t stop the YouTuber. No, unlike other media, internet based entertainers aren’t given the heave-ho when their numbers start lagging. Sure, there is less ad revenue, should they choose to partake, and that may lead them to find greener pastures. However, for a LOT of them, it’s a hobby or a side project. For a few, it’s a living that they procure from crowd funding, which is where the current problem is bubbling up.

ytb1

There was time, not so long ago, and maybe it is still true, that not every single person gets to follow their dreams. The world couldn’t handle so many ballerinas! But now that modern society has allowed adolescence to extend in to the late 20’s…we’re seeing a lot of people still out there trying to hash a dream out of being a YouTube star!

In my “research” for this article, I’ve just been scrapping the bottom or YouTube and iTunes trying to find hidden nuggets and gems of entertainment. Like a lot of you, I’ve become tired of the same grip of people sitting around “ranting” or “critiquing” the content of others. The “Hot Take” culture fits certain things well: sports, news, and entertainment. However, “Hot Takes” do not work so well for video games and fellow YouTubers. I’m sure some of the internet drama that crops up on YouTube rings that lizard brain bell need for “entertainment”, but it is not nearly as compelling as a finely crafted and edited reality show. That these internets beefs can stretch on for years is amazing to behold.

However, my problem doesn’t really lie in that. It’s the dreamers that need to get a job and stop clogging YouTube with their bullshit that have my ire.

ytb3

It’s times like the news of PewDiePie being “literally a Nazi” that the dark underside of YouTube rears up. That so many “content creators” suddenly felt compelled to lodge a PiewDiePie in to their video titles and deliver their staid “Hot Take” on it. Just how many of those are actually a unique take on the subject? Very few, sadly.

YouTube fosters a cult of personality complex in people that really shouldn’t be anywhere near it. People that actively proclaim to have social anxiety and other mental health issues somehow find comfort in participating in a digital striptease for the few voyeurs curious enough to click on a picture and a link. They will then try to leverage a fan base via crowd funding to further some goal that needn’t be bothered with, especially considering how little support they often wind up with.

The cult of personality eventual tickles out those who hide behind “characters”. Oftentimes, I enjoy just a static image and someone just talking over it about a topic I like. In fact, a lot YouTubers do something along those lines, then one day…they hit a threshold or come to some understanding and then *BAM* I click on a video and get to watch a fat neck beards chins flap around as they stare blankly in to a the camera and do their thing.

Some people just don’t need to be seen!

Better yet…why? Even when a homunculus shrinks themselves down in to a corner of the frame, it’s still ridiculous to watch them bloviate over a static image of their topic. In a video that runs over ten minutes! Boring!

Perhaps treating YouTube like an educational entertainment channel isn’t the best mind set, but more often than not, I’ve found myself pining for the days of yore when we had a few gatekeepers that we trusted and nothing more. Sure, you had that one guy that would be your go-to for whatever they specialized in. For example, I’m the “movie guy” at work and amongst friends. But now every single one of those guys has this compulsion to plaster their nasty asses in front of green screen and jiggle over whether a piece of pop culture is shit or not.

ytb4

They don’t even have to be subjectively “good” at their “jobs” either! At least in ye olden days there was some level of expertise and knowledge within a critical circle. Thanks to the democratization of The Internets, some fan boy carries just as much “intellectual” heft, and he doesn’t even know what he’s talking about outside whether a movie gave him a chubby or not. Every single bit of his output is a mile wide and an inch deep in terms of critical analysis.

In fact, a lot of depth and nuance is being lost to YouTubers and The Internets collective hyper-attention deficit. This goes further with the thumbs “up” and “down” system of I suppose letting the content producer know how a particular video is doing? YouTube doesn’t seem to care one way or the other, as they can sells ads on every single bit of content on its service, which in turn facilitates people who should have no business doing so making content for “entertainment”.

To be fair, this “entertainment” isn’t being foisted on to me. I am punishing myself by scraping this said barrel and trying to discover the secret sauce as to why someone would go through the hassle of trying to hack it at the business of being a marginal YouTube celebrity. Maybe that’s it, those vaunted fifteen minutes of fame, but on somewhat your “own terms” of not leaving your house.

Perhaps the day will come when equilibrium of sorts will take hold and the vaunted gatekeepers of yore will reappear much like the four horseman of the apocalypse and lay waste to these less than charlatans that disguise themselves as critics. I’m highly doubtful, but doesn’t something have to give a some point?

Mediocracy: How the Democratization of The Internets is Ruining Entertainment