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2011.08.26

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Fruity Rudy Reyes 4 lyfe.

That episode of Louie made me feel really gross.

more, more

I have to say that this was the best episode of CHILDRENS HOSPITAL in a while - it's always been hit or miss, but this episode really hit in a way I didn't think such a one-note premise really could. The PARTY DOWN cameo was marred only by the fact that it came AFTER the credits, by which time Violet had already noticed that the credits listed PARTY DOWN cast members who hadn't actually appeared in the episode. Eagle eyes, that one.

I mean, the whole notion of presenting an apolitical yet wholly patriotic and sentimental look at an American military occupation... it's pretty fucked from the start, isn't it? You can't have an apolitical discussion or depiction of war; it's an intrinsically political subject. What Louie tries to do here is leave any meaningful political content out in order to, I don't know, avoid hurting The Troops' feelings? But excising political content from a political subject is itself a political statement. It'd be like writing about the Soviet Union without mentioning the gulag - you're saying something by not saying something at all.

What Louie does here is try to rub all the edges off a subject that should rightly leave us feeling prickly and uncomfortable, until all that's left is feel-good fluff about Sacrifice and Our Troops and Can't We All Get Along, which is bullshit. Worse than bullshit, it's kind of insulting. I mean, I know Louis CK isn't George Carlin or Bill Hicks, and I don't want him to be. But he's a smart, funny guy who's made a smart, funny show, and this was neither - it was dumbed-down jingoistic mush, the kind of stuff I'd expect to see at, well, a USO show where entertainers try to keep up the spirits of soldiers who've spent the last decade in an increasingly meaningless and immoral war.

It depends on how much energy you'd want to put into it, but I do think some of what you're talking about can best be responded to by reading CK's posts on the actual trip the episode comes from. There's a political aspect addressed there, although I'm not going to argue it's addressed as fully as you might like. Mostly though, I think CK is just more invested in the specific, personal experience that a soldier goes through than he is in dealing with amorphous, anti-war messages.

I thought that this episode of Louie was pretty political, and in the only way that mattered. It humanized something that exists only in the abstract for a lot of people. The people on the ground are "The Troops," full stop. And no, they aren't. They're regular people, just like anybody else. One of my favorite bits was Louie asking a guy how long he'd been living at a base, and the guy's sorta droll response of (roughly) "Oh, well, we built it about a year ago, so a year, sir." It's like, hey, guess what? These people are us.

Wanting this episode, or every look at the situation in the Middle East, to be some sort of polemic, like "War is bad! We gotta get out of Iraq!" I mean, duh, dude, c'mon. What Louie did was something that was very necessary and just as political (maybe even more so) than some platitude-filled, mealy-mouthed "What a quagmire this is, war sure does suck!" episode.

Well, of course the show was political. That was my fucking point. But in attempting to smooth over the fact that the U.S. troops - the "ordinary people" Louie is entertaining there - aren't just there by happenstance, but are in fact there to occupy Afghanistan and murder its inhabitants - he's made a piece of de facto pro-war propaganda. And you can say, "hey, I don't want to sit through an hour of anti-war stuff," and that's fine, whatever, but if Louis CK didn't want to make a show with a political message he didn't have to do a show about the military force that's occupying Afghanistan at all.

David talks about an anti-war message as being "platitude-filled" and "mealy-mouthed." Fuck, what was this, then? All that shit about soldiers' sacrifice, about every goddamn song sung by the goddamn folkie being about how sad and tragic it is that the people who've been sent to other countries to kill the inhabitants of those countries sometimes get killed instead, the ridiculous "the clowns will save us all" Care Bears ending? I mean, Jesus fucking Christ! You couldn't have crammed more mealy-mouthed platitudes into this show unless it ended with all the characters with their hands over their hearts singing the goddamn national anthem.

I did my best to look at that USO blog, Tucker, and even there Louie couches his more explicitly political content in defensiveness (for instance, when he rightly objects to the gross spectacle of people taking gag pictures in one of Saddam's chairs, given the grotesque history of the place, he walks it back by criticizing his own desire to criticize this).

Man, Suits owns.

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