In Which We Boo Bill Maher

As a former Reason contributor I was delighted to see its editor Nick Gillespie on last night’s Real Time with Bill Maher, although as I wrote here, Maher himself has long since worn out his welcome. He was already lapsing into full bore Gran Torino era Clint Eastwood with his misogyny and Islamophobia, but his latest show raised my hackles on two scores relevant to this blog:

  1. His ranting about TCM’s wise and considerate new disclaimers for problematic films, which he calls “woke labeling”. My philosophy is, screw whoever can’t handle this. Screw ’em with a rusty screw. In life’s grand triage of things to have a problem with, having an issue with presenters being thoughtful enough to publicly disavow the racism in bygone entertainment speaks VOLUMES about what matters to you. Breakfast at Tiffany’s has Mickey Rooney doing the most heinous insulting yellowface routine on celluloid. Presenting it as entertainment and NOT clarifying that you don’t sign off on it is an ENDORSEMENT of its attitudes, shmuck. And, no, the public has proven time and time and time again that it is NOT wise enough and mature enough to understand that it is part of the past and no longer to be perpetuated. Else we wouldn’t keep having wave after wave of racist incidents in America in the 21st century. Some label or brief statement at the top of a film is the LEAST that we can do to redresss what has been done in the past. If that’s too much for you to swallow or tolerate, WHO CARES? It doesn’t harm you in ANY way. So shut up about it, grandpa. And…
  2. This RISIBLE thing about how only 1% of musicians deserve to be heard by the public, which makes me so furious I can hardly stand it. I am SO the opposite. I ran an open mic for months: I heard singer after singer after singer and my main takeaway was THEY SHOULD ALL BE STARS. In my philosophy, the proportions are the opposite: only 1% should get the hook. Let every voice be heard! That is the spirit of Walt Whitman. Right? “I Hear America Singing”. Stifle all but the “best” voices — that’s sick Nazi shit as far as I’m concerned. That’s George Lincoln Rockwell’s America. That’s why, despite our love of vaudeville, you’ve never seen me write about those television singing competitions. I despise them. Here’s his garbage op-ed.

Addendum: a few weeks later: his rant on the 2021 Oscars, in which he argued against movies for grown-ups, was despicable. Grandpa is clearly entering his second childhood.