The President seems to be on the verge of losing Jay Leno just like Lyndon Johnson famously “lost Walter Cronkite” after the Tet Offensive. The pointy-chinned funny man’s monologues have started picking at the administration’s scabs over Benghazi, the IRS and its general incompetence. After five years of Obama-fawning, a little comic accountability is certainly welcome. But the big question is whether there is any chance of disenchantment with the antics of the liberal establishment translating into a more conservative popular culture.
Sure, the usual suspects are still acting out with their usual cluelessness. Voice-of-her generation Lena Dunham – and God help any generation she’s the voice of – started off the week with a tweet announcing how she recognized Memorial Day by urinating in two different Starbucks stores. I know the guys who stormed Normandy are proud of her achievement – those that lived. She proceeded to shift into “V” for victim the moment folks tweeted back their disapproval. Hilarity ensured as Dan Savage, the slavering anti-Christian poster child of the left, joined in to defend her Gaia-given right to disrespect millions of veterans without anyone calling her on it.
Dunham managed to make a second splash this week when she got publicly fussy because some adult video outfit is making a porno parody of her show Girls, apparently unaware that Girls itself is already a porno parody of Girls.
Then Adam Levine, another Obamabot, was caught on a hot mic muttering, “I hate this country.” For those of us who are so thick-headed that we failed to comprehend his sly, subtle brand of repartee, Levine helpfully tweeted a dictionary definition of “joke.” He forgot to mention that, traditionally, jokes are funny.
Relatedly, the dictionary definition of the word “crappy” is, “The music of Adam Levine’s band Maroon 5.”
The ravings of a couple of future footnotes aside, the administration has to be unhappy that the unbreachable wall of liberal reverence within the entertainment community that held back the forces of parody and satire seems to be cracking, if only a little. Saturday Night Live nearly made fun of Obama recently, and John Stewart almost criticized him last week. After the smoochorama of the first tem, that counts as progress.
But what happens when the administration really starts spinning down the scandal commode? And it will – we’ve barely scratched the surface of the corruption and political bullying that this administration has engaged in since Day One. These new scandals are very different from the ones that went before. Fast and Furious was difficult to understand, and on the surface the claim that the administration allowed drug cartels to get guns from U.S. vendors seemed almost unbelievable to anyone who wasn’t focused on the particulars. Even Libya is kind of hard to understand for the low-info voter – a good portion of them probably think Benghazi was the guy in the volcano lair who tried to kill James Bond.
The IRS scandal is a whole different animal. Everyone hates the IRS, and everyone understands, “These guys told the IRS to go and harass their political enemies.” The press subpoena thing is a bit complicated, but the victim – the press itself – ensures that it will get a boatload of publicity.
So, as the zeitgeist morphs, we may well see the comics follow. Comedians are the canaries in the coal mine of popular culture – they react first and their reaction shows where things are headed culturally. Next, the sense of scandal and disappointment with the administration – remember that Hollywood’s biggest problem to date with Obama has been that he isn’t progressive enough – will grow. That’s when the trouble starts not just for the administration but for the liberal establishment as a whole.
For so long, the gatekeepers have done yeoman’s work fending off the conservative barbarians and ensuring that not only their idol Obama but the entire liberal idea was beyond any pop culture critique. However, these scandals and the disappointment in politics they will engender in society as a whole could create a precious, invaluable space within popular culture for conservative entertainment within the mainstream. Instead of outsider movies and shows – important, but ghettoized among those already conservative – it might be an opportunity to move into position to address those Americans who the liberal establishment has, for so long, kept for itself.
Moreover, new technology and new media outlets have created a vast pool of conservative talent, talent with the ability to make conservative cultural content. Most will fail, but most people trying to make it in entertainment fail. The difference is that now all of them won’t fail.
For the present, watch what Leno does, especially since he is now free from any kind of constraints as he winds up his tenure and prepares to turn over The Tonight Show to shameless Obama lackey Jimmy Fallon. Leno can call them as he sees them, and he absolutely knows that every gibe at the President’s misfortunes and mistakes will annoy his replacement.
Moreover, what comedian wants to be less edgy than plain vanilla Jay Leno (who was never as plain or vanilla as he was made out to be)? When everyone was covering for The One, you could get away with it. Now, you’ll be known as the comic who’s afraid to go where Leno went. Jokes about pot, one-liners about sex – meh. If you really want to be a rebel and freak out the squares, grab a mic and diss Obama!
Hollywood is never going to be conservative, but it can be a lot less liberal. The scandals may well give pop cultural movers and shakers the permission they need to dispense with the brown-nosing of the last half decade. Obama has alienated the political class, and he’s alienated his pals in the press. If he alienates Hollywood too, then that liberal duck and his whole leftist dynasty couldn’t get any lamer.