John Oliver

Fix the teeth, make it shorter and lie about your age.

Is John Oliver breaking all the rules or is the truth there are no rules to begin with?

What we know is you’ve go to appeal to the younger generation, oldsters don’t switch products, advertisers are not interested, if you’re not shooting for tweens and teens, we don’t care.

And god help us be beautiful. Isn’t that the Fox News mantra? If you find a guy who doesn’t want to bang Megyn Kelly, he’s gay. If you’re gonna hire a lawyer, one who’s actually smart, why not get someone beautiful? Yup, no ugly people on TV.

And don’t you know that kids have a short attention span? I mean you’re gonna talk about income inequality for fourteen minutes? Everybody’s gonna tune out, no one cares, can’t you throw in some cute dogs or cats while you’re at it, and a feel good moment too?

But no, John Oliver is British. So he’s self-deprecating and can verbalize the truth everyone in America is afraid to utter. That’s right, the mayor of Los Angeles utters the F-word and it dominates the news for two weeks, as if no one over twenty ever swears.

And there’s the fiction that there are two reasonable sides to every story. As if every time someone’s bleeding to death, we should call in the Christian Scientists for their take.

No, the truth is everybody knows what’s real, and it’s beyond refreshing to have someone in a position of power utter it.

That’s what John Oliver is, a truth-sayer.

Who’s been doing his job for decades.

Wait a minute? Don’t we revere the barely pubescent, who haven’t even had their first kiss? Old means worthless in America, over the hill old man, we don’t want to hear your opinions. And the hilarious thing is the old people buy it, they diet down to nothing, wear their children’s clothing and imitate their lifestyle. Why else to get plastic surgery other than to evade the aging police. It’s like the whole country’s living “Logan’s Run,” but no one will admit it. And they also won’t admit that with age comes wisdom, which grows from experience. You live and you learn, but most people don’t learn to let the epithets of the youngsters slide off of them. They feel inadequate themselves, when the youngsters say they are they don’t own their identity, they change it.

The virality of John Oliver’s HBO program is astounding.

And it’s all because he’s firing on all cylinders. To watch Oliver’s show is to wait for the lull, the mediocre interlude, that permeates sitcoms, that’s dominates society. It’s like watching an acrobat, or a tightrope walker, we’re on the edge of our seats, just waiting for him to fall. But Oliver keeps cruising along at an insightful comedy altitude that’s jaw-dropping. Which is why everybody’s talking about him, e-mailing clips about him.

Yup, you’ve just got to be that good. I mean you watch Oliver and you damn near have a heart attack, it’s akin to watching the Beatles or Richard Pryor, if Richard Pryor did not only talk about race and his life, but politics. We’re drawn to excellence. But everybody who’s less than wants attention. Which means we wait to see what rises above. And John Oliver has risen above.

Income inequality. Even the Republicans now admit it’s a problem. But it’s a television third rail, because of “class warfare.” Huh? There’s already class warfare, why worry about the moniker? And Oliver addresses this too.

Now his fourteen minute diatribe on income inequality is not quite as good as his shorter evisceration of climate change deniers, but…

He starts with a joke, analogizing income inequality to whether you’re stealing or paying for HBO, while he’s on HBO! You won’t get a musician to disparage his label, to poke holes in its business model, to criticize it as being antique unless said musician wants off.

Then, like a roller coaster, there are popular culture references and history and a refusal to be all or nothing, as in stating that true equality is a pipe dream.

And then there’s the skewering of America’s inane optimism, wherein if you’re not a winner, or on your way to victory, you’re a base whiner who must be shouted down and removed from the debate, you’re a hater trotting out facts without concrete solutions so please get out of my way as I delusionally work twenty hours a day pursuing victory at a casino wherein the house always wins.

It’s like an album where all ten cuts are winners, where there’s no bait and switch, where when you’re done you want more.

It turns out that we’re not interested in exterior, but interior, that everything being told and sold to us is wrong. You don’t have to be beautiful, your father doesn’t have to be rich, but to triumph you’ve got to be smart, experienced and creative.

Oliver fights with facts, wrapped up in a presentation so good that it doesn’t rely on said facts. It’s like Eric Clapton not needing to whip out a lick because the song is so good, his guitar playing is secondary.

So when you gonna wake up?

That’s right, once upon a time we relied on Bob Dylan and other musicians to speak the truth. But that no longer happens. Instead we must watch cartoons and comedians. You’ll get more honesty on “South Park” than you will on the nightly news. And it’s lucrative too, just check out “Book Of Mormon.”

So keep telling yourself the game has changed, that the old values are out the window, that everybody’s got a short attention span and we live in a hit and run society wherein Britney Spears is already too old and we need someone much younger to replace her.

You need no money to speak your mind. You need no money to be good. But if you pay your dues, those supposedly against you will embrace you, HBO will pay John Oliver to skewer the establishment. And the end result will be of such high quality that the unwashed masses will lift you above and beyond, you will become a superstar with credibility. Which is a far cry from what we’re featuring on today’s hit parade.

There is hope.

 

“Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Wealth Gap”

 

“Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Climate Change Debate”

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