I’d imagine that this news will light up the blogosphere quicker and more violently than the first lightning storm of summer. Allow me to make like a sheep and follow the flock for a few paragraphs. Needless to say, like most people who tend to play on the left-hand side of the sandbox, I’m happy to see Beck depart his post. My reasoning, however, seems to differ from most of the lefties I’ve already read on the subject, so here goes: I’m glad to see Beck’s show reach its end because he has committed the most unpardonable sin any television personality can. He’s terminally boring.
I’m a guy who knows with a fair degree of certainty where I stand on things. On any important issue of the day, I’ve done my best to triangulate the facts from all available viewpoints and reach a hopefully informed conclusion. I’m not the kind of guy who needs his standpoints validated by reiteration; while I think it’s good that organizations like the Huffington Post and MSNBC exist, I don’t feel like I need to spend a lot of time letting them tell me what I already know. When it comes to politically oriented media, I actually prefer spending time with the opposition. Its intelligent, civilized speakers can challenge me to defend and better understand my opinions internally, and its raving, full-blown whack-a-loons make for great cartoonish villains.
Given the latter statement, you might think that Beck would be right up my alley. Unfortunately, you’d be mistaken. While spending some time in bed with a particularly nasty, recurring flu this past winter, I finally decided to give Beck a shot. It seemed like he might just be perfect entertainment for a DayQuil haze. Sadly, I think you’d need much stronger sedatives to be entertained by the guy. 90% of the time, he stood in front of a blackboard, spouting incoherent right-wing doomsday theories. He reminded me for all the world of an Astronomy professor I had in college who used his classroom as a bully pulpit to do nothing but impart conspiracy theories on how Bill Clinton was hell bent on shutting down NASA. Eventually, everyone stopped attending the class; as a result, he failed every student and had the grades thrown out by the college. There’s a great parallel there with Beck’s dwindling ratings.
His ratings have dwindled because the man is a certifiable bore. His oratory style is unimpressive. Sure, his volume and velocity of speech rise and fall appropriately, but with the labored nuance of a C-list actor rather than with the true passion of a man possessed by patriotic fervor. His content is likewise dismissible: while there is much to legitimately criticize about Barack Obama’s performance as commander in chief, his Beck-alleged “deep seated hatred of white people” is hardly a good example. There are real issues to deal with, real failures to analyze. This, however, is crackpot drooling, to be filed somewhere near “he’s not a citizen” in the nonsense file. Oh, and the chalkboard? What a horrible prop; nothing like underscoring the idea that the audience is being lectured to, eh Glenn?
The simple fact of the matter is this: if you are going to accuse the President – any President – of being a card-carrying racist, you’d best have some solid facts to back up your rhetoric. Needless to say, Beck couldn’t produce and, as a result, saw his advertisers fly the coop. That, dear readers, is capitalism at its finest: faced with being seen as supporting a host who hate-mongers for fun and profit, Corporate America voted with its expense account and turned away. Good on ‘em.
I, too, turned away: the guy’s presentation was simply too bland to stomach. I like my staunch conservatives to either be brilliant or to be as loud as they are boorish. Beck failed by being neither, seeming more like a longtime radio hack who’d finally found an on-air persona that hit pay dirt than a true believer. Perhaps now that they’re both, ahem, between assignments, he and Keith Olbermann can start a cable venture of their own, wherein they do nothing but scream over one another twenty-four hours a day.
Now that, friends, would be entertainment.