Letterman was recently added to my extravagant cable TV package. It’s on everyday, Monday to Friday at ten o’clock and weekends at six p.m., repeats from the weekday shows. Many of the shows are brand new, showed within a few days of their original airing. Sometimes they drop in one from six months ago, or repeat a show within a couple of days. Maybe Asia just demands more Byonce, I don’t know.
I think the show is generally pretty funny and that Letterman has become more likeable in his old age. Way out of proportion to the intrinsic merit of the show, I am enjoying it as a connection to American culture. One can begin to feel remote over here, and CNN Asia and reruns of old TV sitcoms only go so far. There’s something reassuring for the expat about Matt Damon boosting his new movie, or Billy Crystal displaying the profound lack of humor that makes him so mysterious.
I love the jokes about philandering politicians, the economy, Sara Palin, the Swine Flu, country folk, and the awful New York weather, but more interesting to me are the jokes about torture, Dick Cheney, Tea Partiers and Birthers, and the shenanigans of hyper-cons like Joe “You Lie!” Wilson. Most Americans do not agree in any way, shape or form with these racist, anti-American, crypto-nazi corporate stooges.
It’s nice that people laugh at those things at the expense of some people who are really, really bad individuals. The jokes are funny, after all. I laugh too, even though I’m pretty sure that water boarding is not actually funny.
I’m afraid, though, that while we are laughing at the Glenn Becks and Joe Wilsons of the world, they are actually winning the war that was started in the late Seventies by them and the dream boyfriend of their latent homosexuality, Ronald Reagan.
In this post-modern, post-ironic, post-give-a-shit world, the Reactionaries have a real advantage over us. Their old-fashioned ideas include a lot of old-fashioned dirty tactics that still work.