Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Glenn Beck Knows His Fan Base -- And Them Necks Is Mighty Red


Glenn Beck's new CNN show appears to be the network's latest pathetic bid to compete with Fox as a source of crypto-fascist pseudo-news. And, Beck hasn't wasted any time reaching out to the redneck fan base.

Beck devoted a segment of his May 15 show to trashing Natalie Maines and The Dixie Chicks, who have already endured much graylisting and some death threats since Maines told a London audience 3 years ago that she was ashamed that George W. Bush is from her home state.

In the first place, it's an insult to CNN's more serious viewers to put a one-man commentary program on in this time slot (6 p.m. CST). This is a time when relatively serious viewers are looking for real news, not a rabies case with a Rush Limbaugh-style, omnipotent format.

But, to the point -- in trashing Maines and The Chicks, the TV Beck went straight for the hate-radio fan base. Basically saying Maines is condescending to country-music fans, he self-righteously explained that this musical genre is "about values."

Being from a part of the world where country is "king," I felt I had to comment. Sorry, Glenn, but it's really more about culture -- or, if you've heard the country numbers that push right-wing politics, perhaps the lack thereof.

This is not to say there haven't been many fine country-Western artists. I'm not much of a fan, but I find a surprising number of C&W classics very listenable. Names like Johnny Cash, Charley Pride, Merle Haggard (right-wing jingo songs excepted), Patsy Cline, Marty Robbins, Willie Nelson, Jerry Jeff Walker, Bob Wills, Jimmie Rodgers, Kris Kristofferson, Ronnie Milsap, and even Ernest Tubb (though a little goes a long way) come to mind.

Nor is this to say that all culture need be highbrow. A good way to torture me would be to lock me in a room with nothing but the sterile, mathematical monotony of baroque-style classical.

But in C&W, artists like the aforementioned are exceptional. Growing up in Texas, I was exposed to my share of C&W radio during the heyday of "The Nashville Sound." Between the occasional patriotic opus or gospel-influenced number, I learned one hell of a lot about honky-tonkin', alcoholic, ignorant-and-proud-of-it men and women who cheat on each other and wreck their livers to an interminable soundtrack of weepy, affected hokiness. A whole lot of this stuff was musically juvenile and just damn depressing. You know -- cry in your (cheap-ass) beer stuff.

Family values? Well, maybe -- if your family is beer-guzzling trailer trash. Culture? Sometimes, yes -- but this is one of the easiest musical genres to outgrow.

For many of us, life is too short to listen to Darryl Worley putting Bush disinformation to music. (Worley's 2003 hit, "Have You Forgotten," links the Iraq war with 9-11, despite clear proof that this is false.) This jingoism is old-hat in country. Ever since I can remember, the emergence of any foreign villain spawns several "We Gonna Kick Their Ass" novelty songs on the country charts.

And then there's the longtime double standard on morals. When Keith Whitley, Hank Williams Sr., or Elvis (a rockabilly patriot) drink or dope themselves to death, it's a tragedy. Don't say that about Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin or Jimi Hendrix -- them wuz just skanky hippies.

I seriously wonder if Glenn Beck is a country music fan -- but he plays one on TV. And it's a calculated move, because he knows his target audience. He's perfect for much of country music's fan base. His tirade against Maines, complete with carefully selected and slightly distorted soundbites from the "60 Minutes" interview (I saw the whole interview) was Limbaugh-inspired bashing at its worst. The Chicks-hating Bubbas love it.

But hey, Maines isn't the only left-leaning country star around, Glenn. Willie and Kris are rumored to be lefties. Could it be that they really understand more about the problems of common folks than you do?



Anonymous said...

Regarding classical music. You have to make the effort to come to classical music; unlike pop and rock, it won't come to you. But once you make the effort, you'll find that the best classical is by a million miles the most deeply satisfying music out there. Once you've learned to appreciate the likes of Beethoven, Bach and Wagner, you'll find that most pop and rock music is monotonous and shallow (and no longer very interesting).

Anonymous said...

This is MJ in reply: I was referring specifically to baroque. I listen to other styles of classical quite often and have a wide collection. But Scarlatti, for example, seems very dry stuff to me. It's a matter of subjective taste, I guess.

Anonymous said...

Country music stars are a lot more Democratic than they get credit for. Country superstar Tim McGraw, for example, is a Democrat. What's amazing, though, (and not very well known) is that even Toby Keith, of all people, is a registered Democrat (although he, by his own admission, is a "conservative" Democrat). He did back Bush in 2004, but (as he explained) this wasn't because he supports the GOP, it is because he didn't believe that the nation should switch its commander-in-chief in time of war.

Anonymous said...

re: Willie and Kris are rumored to be lefties.
Anyone who's followed Willie's career can have no doubt that the man is a sincere progressive.

Anonymous said...

Well, CNN now sucks, with the likes of Beck and the white supremacist, Lou Dobbs. And Fox News is, of course, evil. That leaves MSNBC, among cable news outlets. And, if you've not watched him before, Keith Olbermann is actually a very sharp and intelligent anchor: quite a rarity in today's TV news. He's starting to draw increasingly hostile fire from the right-wing blogs (which is always a good sign if you know you're getting close to the truth).

Anonymous said...

You have to admire Glenn, he is honest and outspoken. He is not politically correct, he is a self confessed recovering scum-bag, and he admits all his own faults. He sounds more like the goofy guy next door that cracks jokes, and that rarely joins in a serious political discussion. His is the first program on any cable network new channel that I watch. CNN is generally boring, Fox tries to hard, and MSNBC is a joke. Glenn sounds real. You may not like him, but I suspect he represents Americans better than anyone else on cable news.

Anonymous said...

"Beck called Cindy Sheehan a "slut." "
Actually he qualified that with tradgedy...may want to quote the whole thing next time.
You have to understand Beck to get it. The show IS NOT a news show. In one sense it mocks how seriously some take stupid stories. It mocks both left and right politics, basically mocking the institution and the process. He focuses on values not a right or left wing. He focuses on issues and stories, and doesn't try to spin the story in a way that makes one side look good or one side look bad. It is almost like what Fox wants or claims to be but can't.
If you don't "get it" you will hate it.

Anonymous said...

>>> He focuses on values not a
>>>right or left wing.

Beck focuses on "values"??? What kind of values would those be? Fascism? You Nazi ConTurds constantly praise Beck as someone who "isn't left or right." I've listened to this Nazi quite a bit and all I hear (in so many words) is "Anyone who criticizes Bush, or who is not a Republican, is un-American." Beck has his tongue up Bush's asshole, just like Rush, Faux News, and the rest of the NeoCon Nazi movement. Frankly, all you Nazi scum scare me a hell of a lot more than Bin Laden or Al Qaeda.

Anonymous said...

When will the world wake up from the stupidity of religion and the mentally ill freaks who spew it? Religion in any form is just superstition taken to a redicules level. Why do people stop believing in Santa Claus and The Easter Bunny but insist on holding on to shiny magic God and his pet monkey jesus? Grow up and stop listening to morons like Glenn Beck who are every bit the same type of freak as Osama Bin Laden. He obviously isn't someone in who's footsteps one should follow!.

Anonymous said...

You don't have to believe in God to believe in Beck. I'm an atheist and I love the show. You can't survive in this world without any tolerance of other people's beliefs. I do not "follow" Beck. I enjoy venting vicariously through him. I am soo glad that he is out there defending the country from small minded idiots who can't even spell ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

Glenn Beck is a bully, much the same as Shawn Hannity or Bill O'reilly. When his guests are saying something he finds totally wrong, he tells them to "shut their pie hole". What a terrible way to treat someone who is participating in the content of his show (and his paycheck).

Anonymous said...

Something should be done with Glenn Beck. He is an embarrassment to American people - he brainwashes his audience at the expense of truth and objectivity.