Friday, June 27, 2008
George Carlin Meets
"The Big Electron."
NSFW (typically). But funny (equally typically).A THREATENED SPECIES. We didn't respond immediately to the news of George Carlin's death. In a way we were surprised that so many libs remembered him so fondly. He made fun of things they can't stand to have made fun of, including them. He wasn't a flower child; he was a curmudgeon and not even a Baby Boomer but a member of the curiously unacknowledged in-between generation, which we have written about at this site before. On Mick Jagger's 63rd birthday InstaPunk posted an entry titled "The Uncredited Generation," of which Jagger is a prominent member but hardly the only one.
[R]ock music is only one aspect of the dominating influence of a generation that isn't even identified by any particular name -- they're just the ones born too late to fight in World War II and too early to be part of the Baby Boom. Yet they have led and outshone the Boomers in multiple fields...
In demonstration of this we quoted from an essay about the "in-between" generation, which offered up a representative list:
Other legendary figures of the 1960s were of this generation — Mohammed Ali [sic], the last athlete to attain mythic stature, was born in 1942. Ken Kesey, who attempted to smash open the doors of perception, and his chronicler, Tom Wolfe, who helped revolutionize journalism, were both born in the 1930s. So were Gloria Steinem, Warren Beatty, Dustin Hoffman, Jack Nicholson and Clint Eastwood, who made cinematic history in the '60s. Martin Luther King, born in 1929, and Albee, born in 1928, were also virtually of this generation.
Then we returned to the subject of the Rolling Stones, acknowledging how many Boomers in particular rate them lower than other megastar in-betweeners like the Beatles and Bob Dylan. We demurred, singling out a characteristic that is also intensely relevant to the career of George Carlin:
But the Stones, and Jagger in particular, did them one better. They stood above the times in which they were nonetheless major protagonists, looked at the goings on with a razor-sharp eye, and laughed out loud. The real triumph of Jagger's output was its embedded mockery -- sometimes musical, sometimes lyrical, sometimes vocal, sometimes sartorial, sometimes contextual, sometimes overt, and sometimes concealed. His Satanic apostrophe in Sympathy for the Devil was, regardless of the (too) obvious political satire of its lyrics, an extremely subtle satire of the burgeoning cult of pop star gurus like John Lennon and Bob Dylan. He was making fun of it all...
So was Carlin. Making fun of it all. Which is becoming something of a lost art. Just this week, for example, we had the sorry prospect of Jon Stewart (mildly) suggesting that it is okay to make (mild) fun of Obama, which drew anguished responses from leftwing fans of one of the most biased "comedy" shows ever to hit the airwaves. And today, we have a pair of absurd news stories from Canada, one about a comedian who is is being prosecuted by one of the "human rights commissions" for making fun of Lesbian hecklers at one of his shows, and another about the decision by one of the HRCs to drop the case against Mark Steyn, despite his unfunny provocations of muslims in a Maclean's article. Ezra Levant discusses both cases:
Th[e] application to dismiss [the complaint against the comedian] was rejected this week. Here is the ruling... that commits the matter to go to trial.
Take a look at who wrote it: Heather MacNaughton, the same tribunal member who chaired Mark Steyn's show trial earlier this month.
In that trial, too, the funny-ness of jokes became an issue. The Canadian Islamic Congress said that some of Mark Steyn's jokes weren't funny, but they also insisted that the CBC's awful "sitcom", Little Mosque on the Prairies, was indeed funny, and if Steyn didn't think so, he was a racist.
So MacNaughton feels comfortable in her self-appointed role as government joke-tester.
The difference between the Uncredited Generation and those which have come after is largely about narcissism, which has risen decade by decade as long as it has been tracked. The belief that you and your partial perspective on the great big whole of everything are so right and so virtuous that no one is permitted to disagree with you, challenge your assumptions, or (heaven forbid) laugh their asses off at you when you're being a dolt is something new on the scene. And, unfortunately, it also comes at a time when individual perspectives are more ignorant, partial, fragmented, self-serving, and half-assed than ever before. That's why devoted Democrats who explode in diva-like tantrums at the merest whiff of (what they deem) 'fascism' are nevertheless perfectly okay with shutting down freedom of speech for their opponents and even putting them on trial for what they think The contradictions are invisible to them because they really do lack any unified conception of a universe that does not feature them as the perfect, inviolable center around which everything else must rotate in obedient harmony.
What probably sets the best of the in-between generation apart is that no one ever put them on a pedestal just for being there. They distinguished themselves not by demanding attention but by distinquishing themselves through superior achievement, acuity, and the analytical powers of observation which must be developed by a healthy middle child.
We could use another 'middle-child' generation. The Baby Boomers were the pampered first children of a new age. The "X," "Y," and "Z" (?) gens that have come along since are all being spoiled and catered to like the babies of the family they continuously act like, getting away with everything just because they can. There's really no part of their experience that can process the universal perspective on fad issues like Global Warming, as represented by a graphic that stands as a perfect concluding punchline to the Carlin monologue above:
If he's sitting on the Big Electron now looking down at the rest of us, I'm pretty sure George Carlin is adding his laugh to the great thrum of his new stage.
Mr. Carlin. We'll remember you with affection and appreciation. That is, those of us who got the joke when you were here.