About Me

My photo
I'm a longtime contributor to MTV, Billboard, Alternative Press and MovieWeb. I've worked as on-air reporter, host, writer and producer for MTV, MSNBC and E!. I have provided opinion and commentary to programs on VH1, IFC, G4, Fuse, Current and Oxygen. I have written for Huffington Post, Premiere, OC Weekly, SFGate.com, NextMovie.com, MTV's television and movie blogs and other publications. I am the founder of Superhero Productions, providing broadcast, online and aftermarket content for a number of clients including Lionsgate, Sony and Warner Bros. I personally handle artist management for a handful of bands. "Ryan Downey has established a history of breaking some good scoops in the last few years, and you could certainly do worse than bookmark [him] to check in on." -- Ain't It Cool

Friday, August 07, 2009

America Is (Still) Not The World

Yes, Moz, the president is now Black, but "America is (Still) Not the World." I have to admit that like many of Rush's ditto-heads, I tend to agree with Bill Maher on just about everything. I don't smoke weed and I've accepted Jesus Christ as my personal savior (that's the simplest version of what are complex and nuanced personal views), but otherwise, I'm right there with him on just about everything he has to say.

Most recently, for example, his interpretation of what really went down with the Gates arrest: Dude wasn't arrested for being black so much as he was arrested for refusing to kiss a cop's ass. It's something that happens regularly. It's something that has happened to me personally, which is perhaps a story for another time.

Not long before that, Maher went after Obama and told him to basically man the fuck up and get going with what we put him in office to do.

But this editorial, which I believe will close his show tonight? FLAWLESS. I was going to Twitter my favorite line, then my favorite couple of lines, and then I realized that every single syllable of this is just incredible. The basic premise is this: just because America's new president is smart, it doesn't mean America isn't stupid.

Here's a snippet: "And before I go about demonstrating how, sadly, easy it is to prove the dumbness dragging down our country, let me just say that ignorance has life and death consequences. On the eve of the Iraq War, 69% of Americans thought Saddam Hussein was personally involved in 9/11. Four years later, 34% still did. Or take the health care debate we're presently having: members of Congress have recessed now so they can go home and 'listen to their constituents.' An urge they should resist because their constituents don't know anything. At a recent town-hall meeting in South Carolina, a man stood up and told his Congressman to 'keep your government hands off my Medicare,' which is kind of like driving cross country to protest highways."

Enjoy the rest here.

*(That fantastic illustration accompanies this great New York Press article which I recommend checking out if you're into Moz, politics, or both.)


Reid Crandall said...

In the spirit of debate, I must quibble with our friend Bill...

I don't know that is necessarily fair to point to the 'dumbness that is dragging down the country' and blame it all on the Republican party, because in my experience, there are educated and uneducated people on both sides of the 'aisle.' Furthermore, the quality of the education and voracity to learn varies over a wide range across the entire political spectrum. I would agree that it does, indeed have life and death consequences. When Jefferson stated that "If a nation expects to be ignorant and free in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be," truer words had never been spoken, and still have not to this day. It is the responsibility of the people to educate themselves. However, it is difficult to do, when those who govern, and wish to rule, on both sides of the argument so willfully attempt to obfuscate the truth, and keep the people in the dark in order to ensure their own continuing power.

I would point to the fact that there are several instances of 'Man on the street' interviews during the election cycle where McCain policies were attributed to Obama, and Obama supporters implicitly agreed with them. This does not, to me, imply an electorate that has entirely enlightened themselves. Nor does it mean that everyone who chose to support Obama had no grasp of the issues or how each candidate regarded them.

It is my interpretation that it simply demonstrates that there are plenty of people on either side of any debate that have a tendancy to follow. They follow what they are told, regardless of the accuracy. They follow because it's easier. They follow because they don't care. They follow because the current climate is not conducive to open and honest debate.

Therefore, while I may or may not agree with Bill Maher, or Rush Limbaugh for that matter, I cannot agree with this tactic when it is used. I don't believe that people can be shamed into educating themselves. If you would like them to agree with your patricular position, you are more likely to drive them away by berating them, and telling them how dumb they are, than are you to encourage their growth and education.

Toad734 said...

Ha, I remember when you got arrested for not kissing a cop's ass...Didn't you end up seeing my brother in lock up?

And yes, besides the fact that I don't personally smoke weed, and his stance on Israel, I too agree with almost everything Maher says. Though I don't smoke weed I do think it should be legal, taxed and controlled. If you want to take a bite out of the deficit and a bite out of the Mexican drug cartel violence you could legalize Marijuana, providing jobs in the growing and distribution, taking the illegal middle men and violence out of the picture just like when we passed the 21st amendment. That alleviates about 1/3 of the prison populations which tax payers pay for, its a new revenue source for government and local municipalities it reduces crime (which tax payers also pay for) it will decrease illegal immigration and lower the likelihood of the immigrants being violent criminals. Sounds like a win win. You could use the tax revenues to fund addiction treatment and health care.

Toad734 said...


I agree that perhaps the way Maher talked with Sam Harris last week about how people of faith must just have a mental disorder doesn't help. I think him talking about comparing the story of the Bible and replacing it with Jack and The Bean Stalk and asking if we were taught that instead of Christianity, would we know the difference between the religion and Fairytale, is effective. When you simplify things for people, such as the way Republicans do all the time with "death tax" or "Socialism", it puts it into a different perspective and makes it easier to swallow. Him asking Joe Scarborough if he really thinks he would still believe in Jesus and Christianity if he had grown up in Pakistan is also pretty effective because everyone knows the answer. We believe what we were taught to believe for the most part unless something just completely smacks you in the face one day and wakes you up because of its complete absurdity.

So no, calling them stupid for believing in something typically doesn't get you anywhere but using simple analogies that may sound condescending, I think that can be effective. That and also backing that up with facts, such as the fact that Man and dinosaurs never existed even remotely close to the same period in time can cast doubts in the validity of religious texts as facts.

And isn't what Bill Maher is and was trying to do is to try to wake up the people who have been followers all their life and have always believed as they were told to believe because it was easier?

My girlfriend was actually upset by that interview because she felt Harris and Maher were acting as if they had all the answers but my response was that they actually don't pretend to have all the answers (which is why they call themselves agnostic and secular as opposed to atheists) they merely point out the fact that the people who say they have found all the answers in the bible (or Koran) in deed don't have all the answers and are full of shit when they say the do.

And back to the point, yes there are stupid people on both sides, but but if you are stupid, you are probably most likely to belive what Faux News and Sarah Palin says and disregard anything else to the contrary as "Liberal media propaganda" because that is what they have been taught. The people in the street interviews weren't bringin guns to the voting booths and at least the people in the street interviews were actually voting in their best interests unlike the morons at the town hall meetings who apparently prefer to be dropped by their insurance company when they get sick and want health care to bankrupt the nation which will require them to pay far more taxes than they do now.