Thursday, October 1, 2009

Dan Riehl: Is Glenn Beck in on the joke, is he "real"

I've spoken previously about how Democratic Strategists have been attempting to elevate popular but divisive figures like Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin as representative voices for the Republicans in order to alienate moderates and create an extreme image of the GOP.

With rabble rouser Glenn Beck's popularity sky rocketing, Democratic players have shifted to elevating him as the face of the disgruntled movement against the Obama administration. Whilst Beck in true populist fashion is quick to denounce both sides, his primary support comes from GOP voters. In recent weeks conservatives like Mark Levin and others have begun to distance themselves from Beck worried that his hugely popular high wire act might eventually hurt the Republicans.

Allahpundit of HotAir succinctly sums up the Democratic calculation in shifting the focus away from Rush and onto Beck
Video: Scarborough goes after Glenn Beck
It’s the same shtick they pulled with Republican congressional leaders earlier this year vis-a-vis Limbaugh’s "I want him to fail" comment, but they’ll adapt it to GB going forward because (a) his exploding TV ratings make him a bigger media story than Rush, (b) he’s a richer vein than Rush for oddball material that can be used against the GOP, like that weird analysis of communist symbolism at 30 Rock from a few weeks ago, and (c) by hammering Beck they get to take a shot at Fox too. Why all Republicans should be asked to distance themselves from a guy who’s neither conservative nor Republican himself, nor even sure that he’d have voted for John McCain over Hillary Clinton, isn’t clear to me, but we’re talking politics here, not logic.
The most damning denunciation of Beck I've encountered comes from Dan Riehl. Dan argues that the Glenn Beck phenomena is a joke, but disturbingly it is a joke people are taking seriously. His argument ties in well with wrestling.

Read Dan Riehl's take on Glenn Beck and his reality
I Come Not to Praise Glenn Beck, But to Bury Him
Given the down feeling across the right after last year’s elections, it’s almost exciting to watch Glenn Beck inject a new vitality into the nation’s political discourse. Nearly every one of Beck’s shows packs the respect, depth, sincerity, and intelligence of a good joke at a funeral parlor into one uproarious hour after another. I don’t know how anyone can keep from snickering … at least a little bit. So, what’s the harm in a good joke?

The harm as I see it is that so many seem to be taking the joke seriously. But can you blame them? No, probably not...
Most people dismiss wrestling for being fake, I argue that it is 'Hyperreal'. People who watch wrestling know that its outcomes are prearranged, the appeal is in watching how events unfold for characters they've invested in. Whilst characters are implausible and outlandish, like in any good science fiction movie or Comic book as the long as the verisimilitude connects people will embrace the reality created.

Now the funny part, in wrestling some actors become so invested in their roles that they believe the myths and hype created by them and for them. As a wrestler's constructed persona is often informed by their real traits and personal history, it is sometimes difficult to separate what is real and fiction. Some wrestlers never break character (kayfabe) in public. Some wrestlers are so precious about their constructed legacies that they will refuse to participate in story lines detrimental to their image, whilst actors are slaves to the scripted fantasy and sportsmen are slaves to the unpredictable nature of competition. Wrestlers, which are a hybrid of the two are essentially a new beast of their own making. The closest analogy would be to a 'method actor' who becomes so engrossed in their dual role that they essentially create a split personality that authentically inhabits reality.

This dynamic is present in Punditry also. It's why some people speculate that Ann Coulter is a performance artist in the Tony Clifton mold
- It's why Bill O'Reilly is so adamant of his "Independence"
- It's why Alan Colmes has wondered "when does one trade a good buck and a great gig for one’s soul?"
- It's why Stephen Colbert has worried of losing himself in his on-screen character
- It's why people liken Glenn Beck supporters to wrestling fans.

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