Thursday, February 12, 2009

GOP Humor (Or Lack Of It)

It seems that Kyle Smith is either 1) just another lackey doing the the bidding of Rupert Murdoch or 2) proof that Republicans don't have a sense of humor, their sensibilities are blinded by ideology and the last thing they should be doing as a careers should have absolutely nothing to do with the arts, especially being a theatre critic.

Will Ferrell's new Broadway show You're Welcome America. A Final Night With George W. Bush has received mostly positive praise from critics. However, what New York Post "critic" Kyle Smith calls a review, I call a conservative Republican's angry response to something they decided they would hate before watching, and may as well been written for Red State, American Thinker or Michelle Malkin's blogs.

What most anger's Smith during Ferrell's show is the moment of silence to honor those who have sacrificed their lives for the "War on Terror."

Ferrell/Bush asks the audience for a moment of silence to honor our troops who died in Iraq and Afghanistan. At the performance I saw, most of the audience members went silent but a few tittered nervously. Who can blame them? This is a comedy show. They were expecting a gag, and they soon got one.

After a few seconds of silence a phone on the stage rings, and everyone laughs. The relief is palpable. Hurrah! That thing about honoring our war dead? It really was just the setup to a joke!
Wrong. I know it's wrong because I saw the show. This is the one moment in the entire almost 90 minute act that was sincere. It was Will Ferrell dropping his Bush mask just a bit and honestly asking for a moment of silence for our fallen soldiers. The silence was deafening. You could hear a pin drop. We all sat there "for a few seconds" (more like 20 or so) realizing that while we were laughing at the caricature Ferrell was creating on stage, the buffoon that got us into the mess we're in really did ruin countless thousands, hundreds of thousands of lives. And it was a wake up call. We can poke fun at this failure of a President, but we can't forget what he's destroyed.

Now if Smith knew anything about theatre - the medium that this ass is apparently a "critic" of - he would know that this was the ending of a scene. I wonder if Smith would have objected to the silence had the lights faded to black and then restored with the phone ringing? Would that have separated the two scenes in Smith's little brain for him to see that this was a transition into the next section of the show?

Of course, Smith plays the dutiful little GOP wingnut in assuming that this was all a setup for a punchline, outraged that Ferrell and director Adam McKay "are so confident that everyone shares their contempt for Bush that they slosh over into contempt for all things associated with Bush: the show includes cracks about Texas, Christianity, and finally the military."

Wrong again. Ferrell never pokes fun at the military in this show. Ever. But I suppose to get the proper conservative frenzy that his rag of a paper calls it's readership, Smith has to appeal to the basest emotions of someone who hasn't seen what he's reviewing and dissuade them from attending by accusing Ferrell of being un-American. No matter. Anyone reading the New York Post is too busy watching Wifeswap to attend live theatre.

The problem with Smith's review is that he doesn't allow himself to view the show objectively. His Republican sensitivities were raw nerves on the surface of his thin skin and he could not bring himself to critique in a theatrical or comedic sense. His vision was skewed by his ideology. And he makes it plain for all to see:
Ferrell mouths a few Bush malapropisms backed by the words "actual quote" projected on the screen behind him. If I were Bush, I'd reply: "If you think you've never screwed up, I've got three words for you: 'Semi-Pro.' " ...

...The military is the military. It isn't going to whine. It isn't going to organize a team of protesters to cause a ruckus in front of the Cort Theatre. It is just going to keep its head down and drive on. The military's finest men and women will continue to be ignored at best and loathed at worst. No Medal of Honor winner will get even one percent of the publicity Ferrell will generate with this show. For every hundred books written about the failures in Iraq, there will be one paragraph written about the post-surge turnaround.

But is it too much to ask for our war dead to not be ridiculed by wealthy comedians? Maybe those who fly on private jets, live in closely policed communities with surveillance cameras covering every inch of their property and send their kids to private school don't understand that there is such a thing as public security, and that it isn't a joke.
Smith doesn't even see the irony in that last sentence as former President Bush is moving to an exclusive Dallas whites-only suburb. But as usual, Republicans are immune to irony.

Finally, Smith leaves with a wag of the finger parting shot as he suggests Ferrell drop the "jokey" moment of silence from the upcoming HBO special and apologize to the troops on a USO tour to Iraq. Perhaps if he could name a couple of Republican comedians (if there is such a thing as GOP humor) who've been on a USO tour, I might take him seriously. I, on the other hand, hope that the HBO special will be uncut, complete with the sincere moment of silence to show how incredibly wrong Kyle Smith was in his backward assessment of Ferrell, the show, and his mindset.

(H/T Armadillo Joe for bringing Alicublog to my attention.)

1 comment:

Annette said...

Great post.. I had read about this on another blog and it was criticizing the play... I couldn't defend it but I did say that during Navy week the theatre would be full of Now I feel justified in defending it. The guy who posted it is very conservative and very critical of anything that might be anti bush.. so he would pounce on this. Thanks for posting this and thanks for pointing me in your direction.