Monday, March 31, 2008

The Wurlitzer Prize for Wingnuttery for the week that ended on Saturday...

Some of you may believe that we here at Wurlitzer World Headquarters enjoy nothing better than pouring a nice cup of joe and delivering the smackdown on the shameless wingnuts who pollute our bandwidth, airwaves and recycling bins. Not so. Yeah, usually we give a prize because the offenders have stoked our righteous fury and we cannot do one more thing, including answer the phone, turn off the burning brussels spouts or pee, until we've verbally boxed these people's ears for their crimes against reason. But sometimes conferring our weekly icon of journalistic shame is a less exuberant effort, made not because the winner deserves special singling out but because he or she is cranking out the same old crap we see nonstop, every day, every week. It's more of a yawn than a yelp.

This week's winners fall into the latter category. The Wurlitzer Prize for Wingnuttery goes to "relationship expert" Marc Rudov, The O'Reilly Factor and Fox News in general. Giving this prize to Fox is like recognizing Dick Cheney for exceptional achievement in sneakiness. Fucking duh. But, you know, ignoring this stuff hasn't made it go away so far, so…

Mr. Rudov (don't ask yourself if you should know that name; almost no one does) is the author of the "When Hillary Clinton speaks, men hear, 'Take out the garbage'" line that attracted a certain amount of attention a few weeks back. This week, he went on The O'Reilly Factor and treated guest host Laura Ingraham to his thoughts on women as a group: "Men are depressed, and it's their own fault, because men are allowing women to take over the world"; "If women are so entitled and they're such delicate little flowers, we shouldn't have one running the U.S. Marines"; "When a woman wants to marry a man who's uglier than she is, she's doing it because she wants power and control…she wants a man who's going to do double backflips over her, so she can…cheat on him and get her sex with the hot men outside the home." You can see the interview here.

We don't remember when news and "news analysis" weren't biased toward conservative corporatism—but [begin voice of Grandpa Simpson] we do remember when they weren't so densely infested by creatures whose single aim was to shock us with what they're selling as outrageously fresh perspectives and what any idiot can spot as preadolescent-type pleas for attention. Rudov is a garden-variety fuckup who has so little dignity and self-awareness that he judges his success not at all on performance but solely on media minutes, as he no doubt grades all his real-life interactions not on content but on volume.

Every woman has gone on a first date with someone like this, and most, less outraged than bored, have exited through the kitchen while on a supposed trip to the ladies' room. Every man has listened to another man like this talk and privately thanked the universe for not making him such a towering loser.

In the arena of emotional ill health and impaired social skills, Rudov represents nothing new under the sun. So why do more and more of these significantly damaged critters keep showing up on cable and network news—not just the expected venues like O'Reilly and Fox in general, but across the entire damned spectrum? We're in the middle of a war without end, an imploding economy, a health-care meltdown, a Constitutional crisis, and these assholes want to give us the all-Springer channel. The kind of material that used to be reserved to fill the empty afternoons of basement-dwelling unemployeds and people under house arrest has for too long now been the norm across the board. Of biggest concern: slippery slopes like this don't seem to have an end, as networks and channels compete to find the dumbest, most poorly reasoning, most measurably dysfunctional and most un-self-controlled guests and hosts. There is no cellar to human pathos.

Don't get us wrong; we realize people need circuses to go with the bread. We all seek out entertainment and escape, including guilty pleasures we know aren't really worthy of us. But "entertainment" that always goes for the lowest common denominator—and keeps pushing it downward—and is predicated on inspiring anger, conflict, anxiety and fear should be the exception, not the rule. So without finding Rudov especially worthy of special notice, we are once again saddened by the refusal of the American mainstream media to seriously engage important issues as it puts enormous effort into promoting bigger titillations, wilder irrationality and greater hysteria—and none of it particularly interesting.

There isn't anything new in our complaint except how damned tired we're getting of having to make it. Yawn, and sigh, and shake our heads at the never-endingness of it all. Here's your Wurlitzer, Fox and friends. Put it on the shelf with the rest of them.