Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Frank Caliendo Gets the Demoralization Treatment

Quite a few people out there are knocking Frank Caliendo. You might disagree, but there are people who are not impressed with the man or his humor. Some sing his praises. It seems to me these are the sarcastic Democratic party members who enjoy ripping on the GOP. (1) ("Annoying Republicans is not just patriotic, it's fun.")

Personally, I was never all that impressed with his humor, but I was definitely in the camp that stood in awe of his knack for mocking President Bush's arrogant posture:

Others similarly admit to liking his impressions, but not much else. (2) But his fiercest critics seem to have been primarily annoyed by an advertising blitz on a TV network hosting his show. (3) ("I can’t stand this guy or his lame DirecTV commercials. He is NOT good and not even remotely funny.")

He himself finally admitted that they got a little carried away, though he teased the critics back a little (4):
I say to those people, 'I'm sorry, but watch the show and maybe TBS wouldn't have to promote it as much,'
Why does a man who can mock the style of powerful people with exactness, with no threat of violent repercussion, get himself into a position where people are hating him? (I hope I didn't just answer my own question.)

It's probably because our media function similar to that of imperial France as described by the Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci (5), who found attempts at controlling public opinion to be common in "the period  in which 'private' energies in society were most plentiful." He described "[t]he 'normal' exercise of hegemony" in these words:
Between consent and force stands corruption/fraud. This consists in procuring the demoralization and paralysis of the antagonist (or antagonists) by buying its leaders—either covertly, or, in cases of imminent danger, openly—in order to sow disarray and confusion in his ranks.
DirecTV and whatever other stuff Rupert Murdoch owns not only have succeeding in buying off the antagonist, but have made him the subject of intense hatred.

I suppose I can write about this as crudely as I want because I really don't see him much of an antagonist to the ruling class to begin with, considering his bizarre rewriting of history (see embedded video above or go here):
[Bush] could never get himself out of the things Clinton got himself into.
Oh really? So it was Bush that got impeached, and Clinton that got off scott-free? In Gramsci's words (I believe Orwell is credited for saying nearly the exact same thing)  "[t]elling the truth is always revolutionary." (6) By those standards, Frank Caliendo's fall from grace wasn't too far (that is, in his professional life).

In fact, he might not ever have been much of a source for grace at all, considering he mocked those in power, but also those who complained about his advertisements. And regarding jokes at the expense of power, Joanne R. Gilbert,  associate professor of Communication and director of Women’s Studies at Alma College, had an interesting comment. In her book Performing Marginality: Humor, Gender, and Cultural Critique (7) she channels the white male in such a situation as fearless and confident:
Indeed, men appear to laugh appreciatively at  jokes that attack them, often overtly. Perhaps by laughing a man is saying, "I'm a straight, white male - I am hegemony - hear me roar. No amount of joking no matter how well done, is about to unseat me from my power position any time soon.
With the example of Bush still not being in jail, I believe this is much more accurate than the laughter being "because he is threatened." Backing me up on this is Stephen Colbert, who doesn't just imitate, but relentlessly satirizes white male hegemony on his show. To him, laughter makes fear impossible (8):

When you laugh you're not afraid. And sometimes you laugh because you're afraid, but when you laugh the laughter (sic) [fear] goes away and its not just whistling past the graveyard. It actually just goes away when you're laughing.
There's still a chance to redeem yourself, Frank, by telling that Bush-loving idiot Murdoch to scram!

1. "Frank Caliendo" Onegoodmovie.org. Retrieved Tuesday, August 31, 2010  from http://onegoodmove.org/1gm/1gmarchive/2006/01/frank_caliendo_1.html. 
 2. "Official I Hate Frank Caliendo thread" Prosportsdaily.com. Retrieved Tuesday, August 31, 2010 from http://www.prosportsdaily.com/forums/showthread.php?t=278401
 3. "10/20: Frank Caliendo's "Frank TV" is back" Dayton Daily News.  Retrieved Tuesday, August 31, 2010  from http://www.daytondailynews.com/blogs/content/shared-blogs/accessatlanta/radiotalk/entries/2008/10/20/1020_frank_cali.html
 4. "Frank Caliendo Apologizes ... While Still Shilling for His Show" MLB.Fanhouse.com.  Retrieved Tuesday, August 31, 2010  from http://mlb.fanhouse.com/2008/10/07/frank-caliendo-apologizes-while-still-shilling-for-his-show/
 5. Hoare, Q. & Smith G.N. (1971) Selections from the Prison Notebooks (p. 80 fn. 49). International Publishers.
 6. "Antonio Gramsci Quotes" from ThinkExist.com. Retrieved Tuesday, August 31, 2010 from http://thinkexist.com/quotes/antonio_gramsci/
 7. Gilbert J. R. (2004) . Performing Marginality: Humor, Gender, and Cultural Critique. (p. 163) Wayne State University Press.
 8. "The Real Stephen Colbert (Out of Character)." Youtube.com. A clip of him on Meet The Press with Tim Russert.  Retrieved Tuesday, August 31, 2010  from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DNvJZCFpdp8

Monday, August 30, 2010

Goebbels and Netanyahu

You can read here about the latest in boycotts against Israeli's settlements. Some "theater people using their positions in the theater for a political struggle against Israeli citizens" have decided to limit their acting to behind the "Green Line" which I assume is another way to say "the international border." The Israeli government is reportedly cutting funds and encouraging their replacement.

It has the effect of a purge of undesirable artists. Although not exactly the same, a comparison to Nazi Germany is quite adequate. In his book, The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century, Alex Ross writes about the Nazi's purging of Jewish musicians:

Hitler took power in January 1933, and by the end of the year most of the German cultural apparatus had fallen under the control of Goebbels's Propaganda Ministry. But music did not become a direct instrument of the state. Hitler wanted the ministry to serve the "spiritual development of the nation," and Goebbels agreed...... The Reichskulturkammer, or Reich Culture Chamber, had departments for each artform, including a Reich Music Chamber.... Musical life was not merely Nazified from above; to a great extent, it Nazified itself. Even the anti-Jewish clause in the Kulturkammer laws neglected to mention the Jews by name; cultural bureaucrats were left to decide which artists lacked "aptitude" for cultural life. Not surprisingly, all leading Jewish musicians were deemed inept.

It's a bit of a stretch. But as I found to be the case with CNN and cop-killers, it's the apologists who end up looking much more similar than the acts.

Goebbels (from a 1933 rally in which he attacked Germany's critics):
The boycott and atrocity propaganda they made in other countries was an attempt by International Jewry to accomplish by means of public opinion in other countries what had been made impossible by our takeover in Germany. They attempted to cause difficulties for Germany’s rebirth through a worldwide boycott campaign, and to render it ineffective.
.... Our country still faces a world boycott by International Jewry, even if it is not as open as it was earlier, and we are still threatened by a cleverly thought out and systematically executed world conspiracy. 

Netanyahu (from the article):

The State of Israel is subject to a de-legitimization attack on the part of different elements in the international arena, including attempts to launch academic and economic boycotts," Netanyahu said. "The last thing we need now is an attempt of boycotts from within."