Let me begin by saying I find this video both hilarious and extremely depressing.
Enjoy it if you can stand it. This would make Larry David cringe.
John Ralston Saul gave a talk of sorts a little while back at Victoria Hall in Westmount. It was an oddly conceived event hosted by the Westmount Library and Paragraphe Bookstore (both of which, incidentally, do great work – excellent selections and a palpable commitment to the somewhat overlapping communities they serve) in which Mr. Saul read from his most recent work, the fiction Dark Diversions, a black comedy of international intrigue and the intertwined worlds of dictators and so-called high society.
Though the event was advertised as being part of a series in book-readings, Mr. Saul found that idea distasteful and proceeded instead to speak more freely as an accomplished essayist would doubtless prefer. He in fact seemed to explain much of the thinking that went into the book’s creation, its inspiration shall we say, by stitching together commentary and considerations on our contemporary lives into what appeared to be the framework if not the guts of the novel. We came for a patient reading and quiet discussion of the books themes, and instead got an incisive and witty deconstruction of our world’s egregious excess.
It was well done, to say the very least, and excessively interesting. I took notes.
In any event, at one point Saul said something that really caught my attention. He said now was a good time to be a satirist.
I suppose he’s right. And it’s just about the only quality product being made in America right now.
The problem is that I look at a video like this and think – this is satire.
And yet it’s not. Piers Morgan seems to be legitimately interested in having some kind of a conversation (but then again I wonder how his people could have possibly thought this would have gone well) and Alex Jones is a man for whom conversation is a completely unknown concept. It’s nearly a Monty Python sketch (though they’d still somehow be more subtle, drier) and this radio-host conspiracy theorist is just about the definition of a hot-headed and supremely ignorant and uncritical American Conservative. Exactly the kind of person you simply cannot have a conversation with. Regardless, unless there is some Andy Kaufmann level cringe comedy stunt being pulled live on CNN (and this means without a doubt Ted Turner is the insane comedic genius I’ve always wanted him to be) what we have here is an example of satire so supreme the creators had no idea they were even involved. Absent-minded, accidental, satire.
This clip speaks volumes about contemporary American culture.
News is driven by sensationalism, the more sensational, the better. Morgan’s ratings will rise. As will the ratings of Mr. Jones. They both win, even though nothing of any importance was actually said. Yet because Mr. Jones ‘got to have his say’ there may be a few more people who take him and his dangerous, ignorant and poorly-assembled ideas seriously.
And because the media conglomerate is over-focused on their bottom-line, and they know shit like this sells (a lot, billions of dollars move on TV like this), they unwittingly confuse the public into believing what they see on the screen has some kind of validity. Because we’ll talk about it all day tomorrow at work, and tweet about it and post it all over Facebook, we wind up making this stick more than it should.
Otherwise this would just be the ramblings of a lunatic in the streets. A raving derelict.
Mr. Jones has been employed twice by fellow Austinite Richard Linklater to appear as a ranting street freak in the rotoscoped masterpieces Waking Life and A Scanner Darkly.
I’m beginning to want very badly for this to actually be satire; I would find a lot of relief in being had.