Red-Eyed and Blue, part 2: Red-Faced and Blue

26Mar09

This started out as a comment on my earlier post about Greg “Gutless” Gutfeld’s ill-timed, inflammatory remarks about the Canadian military, but as it approached 400 words, I thought it might be better off as a separate post.

In addition to his written statement, Gutfeld has now addressed the controversy on the show. I won’t say “apologized” — even though he used the words “I apologize” — because he did it in the smirkiest, most flippant, most dismissive way possible. It was like, “Of course, we support the military. Obviously, we were joking. I apologize. Now, let’s move on.” Even as he disrespects our war dead, this bloated, alcoholic peddler of cheap fratire has given the increasingly played-out word “douchebag” a new lease on life.

As for the panelists, Monica Crowley has apologized on her blog, though with her foreign policy experience (which includes a stint as an advisor to Richard Nixon in his final years), she has the least excuse for not having been better informed. Yes, these four soldiers were killed after the show taped, but again, over a hundred had been killed before that, the most recent being Trooper Marc Diab, who was killed on March 8 and buried on March 17, the same day that the segment aired.

To my knowledge, jug-eared Alfred E. Newman lookalike Jonathan Hoenig, who has largely escaped criticism, has laid low and said nothing at all, which is probably prudent. If you’re sorry, Mr. Hoenig, just flap your ears once for yes, twice for no.

As for Bill Schulz, this obnoxious little twerp really should be getting a lot more attention than he has. His snide, sneering tone was perhaps the worst of the bunch. Yet his official statement so far has been a Twitter message saying, “To all Canadians that keep emailing R u really from the land of SCTV an[d] jim carrey? Lighten the fuck up.”

By contrast, Doug Benson has probably shouldered a disproportionate amount of the blame, and he appeared live on CTV to offer an appropriate expression of contrition. It certainly came off as more sincere a mea culpa than Greg Gutfeld’s half-apologies, which have essentially amounted to “I’m sorry you’re too dumb to understand my edgy comedy.” Benson has pled ignorance in his apologies, and while I don’t think that’s much of an excuse and would expect that somebody working on a program broadcast on a news channel should have some kind of access to facts and other news-type information — but then again, it’s Fox News, so all bets are off — I recognize that the information-gathering responsibilities should primarily rest with the host or producers or somebody other than the stoner comedian on the panel.

Benson also mentioned on CTV that he doesn’t plan to appear on Red Eye again, and in a further post on the Q&A thread I mentioned, admits that in his time appearing on Red Eye, he’s wrestled with the idea that he was selling out by appearing on a Fox News program in the first place, but, despite their conservative bent, they’d always let him promote his projects, not to mention his pro-pot agenda. I don’t blame the guy, a comedian who isn’t exactly a household name, for taking advantage of a career opportunity, despite his misgivings and the fact that it’s led him into this quagmire. Hell, if Fox News threw money at me, well, I’ve got bills to pay.

Though it might still be prudent for him to steer clear of Edmonton for a bit,  I’m ready to lift the fatwa on Doug Benson. By manning up and offering an appropriate apology, I think he’s showed himself to be a better man than Greg Gutfeld has, or is likely to.

It’s all too easy for Gutfeld to hide behind the excuse of satire, but as your favorite internet satirist Jay Pinkerton points out, “As someone who makes jokes for a living, I’d consider very few areas off-limits for the purpose of satire. But there’s satire that aims to make a point and illuminate an issue (you know, the good kind) and then there’s Red Eye.” The fact is, Gutfeld and his panelists aren’t in the satire business at all. They’re in the business of snark.

Satire is the court jester. Snark is the class bully.

Satire is Mark Twain, Walt Kelly, and Stephen Colbert. Snark is Perez Hilton, Nikki Finke, and Melissa Rivers.

Satire is aimed at the powerful. Snark takes cheap shots at the weak.

Satire is meaty criticism. Snark is empty schadenfreude.

Satire tears down institutions with the aim of rebuilding something stronger and better in their place. Snark is merely, to borrow the words of Roger Ebert, cultural vandalism.

Snark can be fun, but let’s not pretend it’s something noble. And let’s not give credibility to Greg Gutfeld’s dubious pretentions to satire. To again quote real-life professional Canadian satirist Rick Mercer’s advice to Gutfeld, “If you’re going to do satire, three of the most important rules are you have to tell the truth, you can’t be a bully and don’t be an asshole.” Gutfeld isn’t a satirist. Neither is Doug Benson. The difference is that Benson is, by his own admission, just a pothead making silly jokes, and I can respect that a lot more than being just a lying, bullying asshole.



8 Responses to “Red-Eyed and Blue, part 2: Red-Faced and Blue”

  1. 1 MC

    I would also add that Satire is derived from understanding a situation well, while snark comes from having the most rudimentary knowledge of the topic (or at least displays that so that the jibe registers with the lowest common denominator).

  2. 2 Tupps

    I uh, I recently read a book called Planet Simpsons and it was written by a Canadian author, Chris Turner. I’d say reading his book is like being offered a ride in the DeLorean but its being driven by a registered sex offender but he did get into length at the different layers of satire…which was educational. But yeah being snarky is so cunt-like…opportunistic as well.

    Anyways, one time I was stuck in my hotel room in Bangkok last year…heh….Greg Gutfeld was on the telly with his stupid red eye or pink eye show. I eventually changed channels because that was 10 minutes too long, staring at obvious retardation in the face. He reminds me of jimmy fallon ehhh….like he’d blurt something out and he’ll laugh at his own jokes, also he looks like a douche to begin with.

  3. 3 Tupps

    oh i hate this, I’d type something incomplete and just click submit.
    i just laid out a massive Mark Twain quote on my blog…he’s the premier observational comedian…i mean he’s a writer…meh you know what i’m getting at.

    You’re a vocabulary Xanadu man. schadenfreude.
    maybe I’ll mosey on over to D-I-C-T-I-O-N-A-R-Y-dot-C-O-M…wuuh

    how is it that you don’t have more readers simply confounds me. eh, laters man.

  4. 4 Peter Lynn

    @ MC: That’s a good point. This is how the snarkers end ups making the usual worn-out, lazy cracks involving tired stereotypes, like Schulz’s bit about the Mounties.

    @ Tupps: Thanks for reading! I’ve never read Planet Simpson, but I actually know Chris Turner. He wrote a bit for my old campus satirical rag. Where is your blog, anyway? I love Mark Twain — he’s been one of my favorites since I was a kid and will still be when I’m an old man.

  5. 5 Kate

    I’m not sure that Jonathan Hoenig has anything to apologize for… I’ve watched the clip several times, and all he says is that he respects anybody who serves in the military and that it’s a shame that the young people serving have their hands tied to actually get things done. Why look for an apology on those comments?

  6. 6 Peter Lynn

    Jonathan Hoenig should apologize for being stupid-looking.

  7. 7 Tupps

    oh wow, so that means you must have either attended Queen’s in Ontario or Ryerson right? I only ask because Chucky Turner makes a mention of his university days in the book as well.

  8. 8 Peter Lynn

    It was Queen’s, and our newspaper press night was on Sunday. This probably kept Turner from contributing more, since The Simpsons was and is on that night.


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