First: How is it that Donald Trump has not responded to rapper Eminem’s scathing video beat down of the administration, in which he told his fans that if they were supporters of the Pumpkin-in-Chief, they should stop following buying his music?
It was a rare non-response (which has become as much a tea leaf into his thinking as the Tweets he does make) from a president who likes nothing more than to enter a social fray in which he can offend.
Confusion is the only scenario I can think of that led to the silence:
Flunkie: “Sir, social media is buzzing about Eminem’s video criticizing you.”
The Incontinent Id did offer some interesting fantasizing last week. Namely, wondering aloud if the media’s daily excoriating of him wasn’t tantamount to unequal political coverage.
Of course, one of the greatest memories in the history of memories didn’t use the word “tantamount.” Multi-syllabic words are not his friend (except bigly, which actually is a word, coined in the 1400’s). Instead, he mused aloud whether he should yank NBC’s broadcasting license.
Gen. John Kelly couldn’t get to him in time to tell Trump he doesn’t have the legal authority to do that. Or perhaps Sarah Huckabee Sanders scolded Kelly that it’s disrespectful for a Gold Star family member to differ with a president. Regardless, the Tweet went out like a silent fart at church.
Still, under the broken-clock theory of logic, Trump occasionally (if unintentionally) strikes on a salient point. What if he could revoke FCC licenses? The question is less one of power than programming. Trump has floated the idea of equal air time before. But what would Republicans put in its stead? The GOP is terrific at bellyaching (Hannity, O’Reilly, Limbaugh), less so at belly laughs.
Consider: Name one politically satirical TV show that is conservative. There was once Dennis Miller of Saturday Night Live fame, but his humor became so obscure even he didn’t get his jokes. Other right-tilting comedians include Tim Allen, Jeff Foxworthy, Adam Sandler and Larry the Cable Guy. But they joke about politics about as often as they do pedophilia.
Now consider the other side of the ledger. There are no fewer than seven big-budget comedy shows making Koch-like money skewering President Carrot Top: The Daily Show, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, Real Time with Bill Maher, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Late Night with Seth Meyer and The Opposition with Jordan Klepper. And that doesn’t include Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update, The Trump Show on Comedy Central, or the increasingly leftward leanings of mainstream comedians Jimmy Kimmel and Jimmy Fallon. All but Klepper were born during Democratic presidencies.
What gives? The most common answer I get is “Republicans aren’t funny.” But we know simply from the success of Republicans’ non-political entertainment that this isn’t the case. Sandler’s movies clear $83 million a flick. Allen’s Home Improvement ran for nine years and took more than a dozen Emmy Awards.
The issue, then, must be the material more than the emcees. And here’s where you find the comedic difficulty of conservatism.
Like journalism, comedy requires editorial freedom to work. It also requires watch dogging, critiquing and whistle blowing when the system goes off the rails — hardly a skill set sought in quarters that seek order or discipline, like the military, government or church.
Picture a Republican TV show that excoriates Trump for a boneheaded comment. Or teases the religious right. They’d be shut down in a week — by Republicans. When you take god or the president off the comedy menu, you’re left with a plateful of limp-noodle punchlines. And little to aim at besides people telling the jokes.
Which as been the sole stratagem left standing for the alt-right. A day after the Vegas shooting, Sean Hannity went on the air to play a montage of comedy shows that took a moment to recognize the massacre — and make a call for a change to gun laws.
Hannity vomited some nonsense about the left’s unquenchable desire to politicize American sadness.
But the shows were right, if only on a visceral scale. We are sad. And mad. And goofy and dumb and eager to address issues of the day, bigly (it means “to handle with great force, often emotionally”). So loosen up, Foxtards. There are literally millions to be made with just a dash of humor.
But here’s a tip. When you go looking for the show’s band leader, don’t bother Eminem. I don’t think he likes you.