Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Saturday, March 13, 2010

Bye-Bye Limbaugh and Beck?

Forty years ago, a line of actors and actresses came out on a Manhattan stage and dropped their robes to face the audience naked. My reaction then was "That's interesting, now what else have you got?"

As it turned out, very little. Despite sketches by Samuel Beckett, John Lennon and other literati, "Oh Calcutta" was deemed "sophomoric and soporific" by a New York Times critic and remains memorable only for crossing a cultural threshold of public nudity.

It comes to mind now as Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, two figures who strip their psyches bare in a new era, seem to be imploding after showing us everything they've got and bumping up against possible boredom with their act.

After a disastrous (in his own word, wasted) hour of bear-baiting Democratic pariah Eric Massa (akin to shooting fish in a barrel and missing), Beck now finds himself under fire from evangelical leaders for equating Christian social justice with Nazism and Communism.

"When Glenn Beck is asking Christians to leave their churches, the Catholic Church, the black churches, Hispanic, evangelical, to leave all our churches," says the head of Sojourners, a Christian networking group, "I'm saying it's time for Christians to leave the Glenn Beck show."

Beck's desperation is echoed in Limbaugh's promise to leave the country if health care reform is passed. With his huge audience and contract, El Rushbo won't be going anywhere soon but his threat is symptomatic of the pressure felt by extreme figures to keep pushing the boundaries of expression.

Their plight brings up another image from the last century. In the early days of TV, a civil-rights leader described a dilemma:

"At dimly-lit open-air rallies each night, the speaker's face lights up in the glare of photofloods during those passages a cameraman thinks most likely to win ten seconds of network time. The lights go off abruptly when the cameraman's interest flags, leaving the speaker blinking in the dark, and fishing for another, even more startling statement to bring the lights back on."

Beck and Limbaugh, like their counterparts on the Left, keep fishing for ever more startling statements to hold our interest, but in a time when politicians say and do the unthinkable daily, it's getting harder to stay in the spotlight.

The only novelty left would be public figures coming on stage fully clothed and speaking with civility, but so far Barack Obama's act is only attracting a bare majority of the audience.

8 comments:

Fuzzy Slippers said...

As to radio, Air America just went bankrupt . . . Limbaugh's show? Through the roof ratings. But again, cute article. A little more wishful thinking than we usually get from you, but fun all the same.

Fuzzy Slippers said...

Aw, this is cute! (btw, Limbaugh didn't say that, but hey, whatever; it's not like his or Beck's ratings are suffering, ya know? ;))

Cable News Ratings for Thursday, March 11, 2010

Posted on 12 March 2010 by Bill Gorman

Live + Same Day Cable News Daily Ratings for March 11, 2010

P2+ Total Day
FNC – 1,382,000 viewers
CNN – 405,000 viewers
MSNBC –361,000 viewers
CNBC – 219,000 viewers
HLN – 315,000 viewers

P2+ Prime Time
FNC – 2,676,000 viewers
CNN – 737,000 viewers
MSNBC –820,000 viewers
CNBC – 207,000 viewers
HLN –531,000 viewers

From: http://tvbythenumbers.com/category/ratings/cable-news

Doesn't look like Beck is going anywhere, does it? MSNBC . . . um, they may be having some new "talent" on air soon.

Anonymous said...

Fuzzy slippers,

I don't know why the right keeps touting Faux News ratings, other than Faux News gets their viewers to do their dirty work for them. Full disclosure: I don't watch MSNBC, and I only watch CNN for news since they have stations in practically every country. But I think the reason el rushbo and faux news "talent" get high ratings is because right-wing viewers soak up lies, propaganda and fear. Left-wing viewers have no tolerance for lies, fear-mongering and blind devotion. We on the left don't want nasty people like Beck to represent us with ill-chosen words and half-truths. If I were a Republican I'd be begging people like Rushbo and Beck to shut up, not bragging about their ratings, which only proves to the left that there are a lot of idiots in this country. We on the left are also aware that Faux News viewers are the least informed on current affairs (per a 2007 Pew Research poll), which makes the ratings even more sad. If nothing I wrote makes sense to you, then I hope you realize that just because something is more popular, it doesn't make it better or more right.

knatoli said...

Fussy Slippers, you another hired gun? How much do they pay you to troll liberal sites?

Fuzzy Slippers said...

@Knatoli, lol, no, but if you know someone who wants to pay me to espouse my views, please send them my way. I adore Mr. Stein, though, the brilliance of his writing may be lost on some readers, but not on me. No one has to pay me to read this man's genius way with words.

Fuzzy Slippers said...

@ Anon, seriously funny stuff there. No hate mongering on the left, that's for sure. Matthews, Olberman, and Maddow are sweetness, light, love, kindness, and goodness. You guys are hilarious!

Anonymous said...

"fuzzy slippers" How cute, that name tells a lot about you. I'm not interested in listening to someone who thinks "fuzzy slippers" is cute. Go back to your couch and eat your twinkies and watch FOX.

Fuzzy Slippers said...

Ah, the usual incisive and thoughtful arguments of the left. You do your side proud, Anon.

You'd do well to pay attention to Mr. Stein's writing; you may learn how to construct an actual argument.