Monday, June 12, 2006

Red, White, and Screwed

If you can stomach the language, I highly recommend Lewis Black's latest HBO Comedy Special, Red, White, and Screwed. Not only because Black does his usual fantastically scathing rants about the state of politics today, but also because of his excellent reflections on the Christian appropriation of the Hebrew Scriptures. Reflecting on George Bush's comment, for instance, that "the jury is still out on evolution," Black remarks caustically that Christians simply do not understand Hebrew Scriptures. "If you get confused by something in the 'Old Testament,'" he offers, "then why not ask one of the Jews who walk among you?" His comments are brilliant and serve as a profound warning to tread carefully and respectfully when it comes to biblical interpretation.

Speaking of stomaching the language, Black's routine includes his reflections on being asked to be the keynote at the Congressional Correspondents Dinner. After reluctantly agreeing to accept the invitation, "because my parents made me," Black receives the instruction that he cannot use bad language in his routine for that event. (Just to give you an idea of how well-seasoned his work usually is, Black had to switch venues for this HBO Special away from the Kennedy Center because upon review of his last special, the Kennedy Center was troubled that he used the f-word 42 times). Black was astounded that the leaders of our country would be so sensitive that they could not handle "bad language." "The man who declared to the world's terrorists to 'bring it on,' which, by the way, was the single-most stupid public statement ever made," Black rails about the president, "is too delicate to hear 'bad language?'" Switching into a groveling tone, he mocks, "Why didn't he just say 'poopy'? Why didn't he just say 'poopy'?!"

Black takes issue that in today's world there is any such thing as 'bad language.' He suggests it's our only alternative to physical violence when faced with the frustrations and rage at our world's injustices. His point, I think, is that the bourgeois love of all things decent all too often glosses over what is most indecent about our world.

While I don't entirely agree with him on this count, I do think he makes an excellent point in this case. While I believe language carries the power to shape the world--so that in some sense it can be equally as violent as any physical action--I think he is right, absolutely right, to expose the hypocricy of our "decent" ruling class.


cyen said...

Wow, great review! I've not had the pleasure yet to hear this new L.B. special. (didn't even know it was out).
I don't know though... last movie was called "Dirty filthy Love", and now "red white and screwed" - better start cleaning up your "poopy mouth" blog :)
By the way, I already added DFL to my netflix list of movies to rent.
Thanks for the recommendations!

see-through faith said...

exposing hypocrisy yes - but bad language isn't needed, and when used - often ends up being used excessively so much so that the person doesn't realise they are using it.

I think we are all hypocrites at one level - I know I am - but I'm not sure I agree with Lewis Black's statement that its the only alternative to physical violence. Yuk! there has to be a better way - that of Jesus.

JWD said...

Thanks, Lorna, for that gentle correction. Yes, certainly "only" is a (comic?) exaggeration. I feel like I see Black's point, but I affirm what you say as being more true. If that makes any sense...