Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Parody in the age of Beck

I recall reading recently Stephen Colbert saying something to the effect that it has become increasingly difficult to parody Glenn Beck since he is already so cartoonish and over the top. While this is certainly true, Simon Malloy has demonstrated that it is still possible to generate some brilliant parody of Beck, as he has done with his "Glenn's Beck timeline of American history"

I love this part

6,000 BC: God creates entire planet just for America.

27 BC: Caesar Augustus becomes first person to employ the Obama Doctrine.

1 AD: First Founding Father born.

1981: Ronald Reagan cuts taxes 23 percent, revenues increase 4 billion percent.

1983: Federal spending as percentage of GDP hits unsustainable 23 percent. No historical record exists of who was president at the time.
On a more serious note, historian Sean Wilentz has written a lengthy article about how Beck's psuedo-historicism is mainstreaming 50 year old extremist conspircy theory. The difference being that Beck has a megaphone in Fox News that his predecessors could only dream of and exists in a vacuum of public intellectual leadership.

The whole thing is worth reading, but I will merely highlight one of the examples of the distorted view of history that Beck gives to his audience

Beck’s readings of Progressive-era politics are nearly as bizarre. Whatever can be said about Theodore Roosevelt, he was not a crypto-radical. It was Roosevelt who coined the term “lunatic fringe” to describe the extreme leftists of his day, and his concept of New Nationalism—in which an activist government built a vibrant capitalism, partly by regulating big business—looked back to Alexander Hamilton, not Karl Marx. Nor was Wilson a Bolshevik; in fact, in 1917 he sent American troops to Russia to support the anti-Bolshevik White Army. At home, his reforms sought to break up monopolies in order to restore competition among small companies. “If America is not to have free enterprise,” Wilson declared, “then she can have no freedom of any sort whatever.”


Sheldon said...

Yes, and Wilson believed in Freedom so much that he put Eugene Debs in prison for opposing the WWI.

Why Beck wan't to associated Wilson with the American Left has always been a head scratcher to me!

Hume's Ghost said...

Right. Beck conveniently forgets to note the whole "Red Scare" motivation for the Palmer Raids.