"You wave it like a flag, you wear it like a crown
Got your mind in the gutter, bringin' everybody down
Complain about the present and blame it on the past
I'd like to find your inner child and kick its little ass."
-- Glenn Frey/Don Henley
Sometimes I feel like I've become the local Internet Go-To Guy for an opposing opinion.
At least five times in the last week, I've had people asking me to blog about Rob Ford and the CBC, the Occupy Movement and other issues the Left and Right like to take sides on in order to pontificate on what morons the other bunch are.
And I'll admit I have opinions on all those issues. But since everybody and their dog is already filling up Column inches, Op-Ed pages and as much blog, podcast and TV panel space as they can on those topics, I ultimately came to the conclusion that nothing I add will be all that and a bag of chips.
Yes, I'm capable of throwing a pretty good fit from time to time on topics where I figure I have some inside perspective. But that's off the top of my head stuff. I really don't have the time or inclination for subject matter that doesn't concern me personally.
Tackling such issues also makes me think too much and being a Libra that ultimately means I'm gonna see the other side of the argument as well and end up either confused or catatonic or both. And we don't want that. At least, I don't.
But that still doesn't stop people, even weeks after some "outrage", from needling me on Twitter with "new information" or some "inside scuttlebutt" even the Press doesn't know. As if most in that profession actually look for much more than how to wind somebody up enough to tuck some change into the "Pay Here" slot.
My particular favorite is when somebody refers to some politician who has miffed them and asks "So what do you have to say about 'Your Guy' now? " as if I'm that idiot's mom or personally responsible for their current Gazebo building binge or whatever.
Other than making a mental note of who to call should I ever need a Gazebo, my honest response is, "All politicians are junkyard dogs! You can't even trust the ones you vote for!" I mean, we all live in hope -- but seriously…
For instance, while I know Jack Layton has now been beatified, there's still news footage of him screaming at police to arrest peaceful demonstrators outside an abortion clinic and threatening to have any cop who doesn't fired.
Put those same words in the mouth of somebody demanding an Occupy encampment be removed and those who admire Jack would be equally horrified.
Where did we move from a common sense of decency and maybe skepticism as well as acknowledging we don't own the moral high ground to needing to take up an immediate implacable stand?
"They point their crooked little fingers at everybody else
Spend all their time feelin' sorry for themselves
Victim of this, victim of that
Your momma's too thin; your daddy's too fat."
Do I think the CBC crossed the line with Rob Ford? Yeah. Do I think Ford over-reacted? Yeah.
Do I think the man is a Buffoon? Sometimes. Is he going anywhere else for the next three years? No.
But what's amazed me the most is how little so many people who work in my own film industry are aware of how video can be tweaked, sound bites clipped and additional perspectives omitted (by all sides) to skew the final impression. We do that every hour of every day in our own work but ignore the possibility that others might do the same for their own reasons.
So while the Left has used the incident to make Ford come across like more of a doofus than he already is, the Right has used it to successfully eviscerate the CBC.
I don't like to put anybody through the agony of tuning in to SUN-TV with its bad 1970's Game Show sets and caricature personalities. But they went to the trouble of simply removing the fake laugh track from the CBC broadcast, revealing the cause célèbre as little more than a blown joke that somebody whose creative skills outranked their ideology would have binned and replaced.
I'm just saying that anytime you can make Ezra Levant come across as the voice of reason, you have completely failed as artist or activist or both.
But it seems we've become a society where it's okay when our side does something wrong and a capitol offense when somebody else does it.
Even more than that, we seem to have become a people more intent on shouting down opposing views than considering they might actual have a kernel of merit.
A couple of days ago, I chatted with a good friend who has the unenviable task of getting Dwaine Lingenfelter elected Premier of Saskatchewan. He was wrestling with the fact that he couldn't get anybody from the local media to write about how Brad Wall's Saskatchewan Party was using subliminal images in their attack ads -- in direct contravention of the Elections Act.
He pointed me to a Youtube video where Lingenfelter's image had been photoshopped to make him look somewhat demonic and then surrounded by further Tarantino-esque imagery to brand him as a mud-slinger instead of the one on whom mud was figuratively being slung.
With Wall polling somewhere around 186% of the popular vote, it seemed such contravention of election rules raised no interest among media types. Was that because nobody wanted to alienate future government ad dollars or because it wouldn't alter the outcome of the election, or -- wasn't there enough controversy since Lingenfelter's people had been caught doing something similar not so long ago?
It's weird how we jump at the chance to make a Federal case out of the slightest things but appear to have no interest when an actual Federal case can be made.
"The more I think about it, Old Billy was right
Let's kill all the lawyers, kill 'em tonight
You don't want to work, you want to live like a king
But the big, bad world doesn't owe you a thing."
All this got me thinking about a couple of comedians I admire. Bill Maher, who continuously inflames the Right. And Dennis Miller, now firmly entrenched as a conservative radio host.
I still think Miller is the best "Weekend Update" anchor SNL ever had and I'm enthralled by the intelligent wordplay that permeates his material. But mention Miller to those leaning Left and he's almost universally dismissed as "no longer funny".
When I lived in LA, I made it to as many tapings of Bill Maher's "Politically Incorrect" as I could, enjoying his visceral outbursts. But now, not a week goes by that some aspect of his new series "Real Time" angers those on the Right to the point of demanding he be silenced.
Have we fallen so far that we not only can't laugh at our own sacred cows being skewered, but we can't even acknowledge that somebody with talent might not think exactly the way we do?
And why do we feel it imperative to insist they change their minds and think just like we do?
Aren't those the kind of people who go around knocking the dongs off statues or burn books or crucify those who make them feel uncomfortable?
Aren't those the kind of people that form in pods if we should fall asleep?
If a joke's funny, it's funny. If it's not, maybe you shouldn't try to wrap it up as something else in order to make your point. And if you don't like the joke -- maybe you should consider that it's just a joke.
"It's like going to confession every time I hear you speak
You're makin' the most of your losin' streak
Some call it sick, but I call it weak.
All this bitchin' and moanin' and pitchin' a fit
Get over it, get over it!"
There was a time, less than 10 years ago, when Maher and Miller could be on the same stage and enjoy each other even though they disagreed.
This clip was recorded a few months after Maher was unceremoniously turfed from ABC for remarks he made about the 9-11 attacks. Instead of celebrating his newfound status as only "politically incorrect" comic remaining on TV, Miller put his own career on the line by bringing Maher on as his guest.
Their discussion on the importance of free speech and making room for dissenting voices has as much power a decade later as it did at the time.
And here's that Eagles song some of may need to listen to a little more closely…