August 07, 2009

On Glenn Beck

One of my most prized possessions as a middle schooler and into early high school was my Sony Walkman Radio. And, unlike most of the young black kids in Baltimore in the late 80's and early '90's, I was a total Top 40 baby. Which, of course, meant that my favorite radio station was WBSB, B-104.

I spent many a night drifting off to sleep to the sounds of Mister Mister and Duran Duran and Bruce Hornsby and YES and all of that stuff.

On the flip side, when I was finally old enough to drive, I listened to Brian and O'Brian's morning show on B104 on the way to school. They were a pretty well-established mainstay - the prototypical morning drive cut-ups. Until they suddenly vanished for no apparent reason.

I was pretty bummed at first, until I got a wiff of the new guy.

The replacement show was called "Glenn Beck and The Morning Guys".

This was 1990.

And Beck was f'n hilarious. I LOVED that show!

While I don't remember all of the various gags they pulled, one particular recurring character stood out in my mind: they'd have a guy call in as "Mr. Stress", and he was basically a guy who was on a hair trigger and would freak out screaming at the least little thing that would upset his fragile little world.

Honestly, I still make jokes about Mr. Stress to this day.

It was all character and performances designed to shock an audience into laughter.

And one of the things that I've always told my fellow screenwriters and storytellers is that the difference between comedy & horror is often just a matter of lighting. They both rely on shock value. And Beck was a master of funny shock craziness.

He's an entertainer. Always has been. Always will be.

Which is why I find it amazing that there are people now hanging on every word Beck says as if he's some sort of sage. Just because he sounds serious and talks about serious stuff doesn't mean that he actually has anything of value or merit to contribute to the discourse in any way whatsoever.

I mean, really. If Ed Lover or Big Boi told you the President was secretly a racist socialist terrorist mole, you would just laugh and say "Man, those guys sure are funny." You wouldn't stop and think, "Man, that Big Boi has a point! I'd better buy a gun!"

If you're going to get serious political thought from Glenn Beck, you may as well write in Dr. Johnny Fever on the next election ballot.

Beck is a professional clown, and the joke is on you if you think he has any agenda beyond being shocking & entertaining.
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