Traditionally it’s the Hollywood celebrities with a cause who seem way out there, and the pundits discussing their verbal excesses who seem more thoughtful. Not so in the rage fest between Canadian-born star Jim Carrey and talk-show-model-born Fox News.
The catalyst was a comedy-political video showing actor Jim Carrey in a “Hee Haw” satire portraying the late NRA bigwig and actor Charlton Heston — and as a singer singing a satirical song that skewered the NRA and others opposing gun control. Lyrics equated Heston’s famous “cold dead hand” with a “cold dead heart,” made fun of gun owners, and suggested some may use guns due to sexual issues.
This sparked outrage from conservatives -- who always seem in 24/7 outrage about something. As usual, the attack was personal and less about Carrey’s theme of gun control. Carrey was accused of being a bully for picking on the dead Heston, and a petition on the Internet sought to get Carrey deported back to Canada (so much for freedom of expression).
Then Fox News lowered the bar on our political discourse. Again.
Fox News personality Greg Gutfeld, as reported by The Huffington Post: “[Carrey] is probably the most pathetic tool on the face of the earth and I hope his career is dead and I hope he ends up sleeping in a car.... This video made me want to go out and buy a gun. He thinks this is biting satire going after rural America and a dead man... He’s a dirty, stinking coward... He’s such a pathetic, sad, little freak. He’s a gibbering mess. He’s a modern bigot.”
Why, Jim Carrey -- worth millions and like most celebrities always in danger of winding up like John Lennon -- MUST be a hypocrite since he has bodyguards, the arguments continued. Even a can of Friskies cat food would hear that and screech: “Apples and oranges!!!” But in today’s 21st century, hyper-ideologist world what really matters is to angrily, sneeringly say something -- anything - that calls the other side liars or hypocrites, so like-minded folks can nod their heads and call it brilliant.
Fox News contributor Dana Perino then added her thoughtful take: “In Jim Carrey’s case, it doesn’t make him a hypocrite, it makes him an a------.” she said.
Carrey later issued a statement calling Fox News a “petty, poisonous, colostomy bag that has begun to burst at the seams and should be emptied before it becomes a public health issue.” He added: “I wish them all the luck that accompanies such malevolence.”
The issue here really isn’t Jim Carrey picking on the late Heston, or making fun of people who love guns. The real issue is how far our punditry has fallen that people who get big bucks as commentators take the easy way out by name-calling and swearing, rather than obliterating someone with a SERIOUS, specific argument. It’s further evidence of how news is now (potty mouthed) entertainment. P.S.: Taking on Carrey won’t win Fox News younger viewers or the GOP younger voters.
Carrey is an actor-comedian who did a video on a comedy website. He has no “stewardship” to inform the public like Fox News (allegedly) has. Most media didn’t mention Carrey’s serious non-screen side: in 2010 he gave a serious talk at the Clinton Global Initiative as founder of the Better U Foundation, which spends money and works on issues to help people worldwide, such as developing ways of growing more rice with less water, seeds and fertilizer.
Fox News was reportedly trying to rebrand when it said “buh-bye” to Sarah Palin and Dick Morris, the worst pundit since the snake said the apple would be no problem. Fox News people are clearly having trouble trying to rebrand. But do they have to take thoughtful American political discourse down the drain with them?
Joe Gandelman is a veteran journalist who wrote for newspapers overseas and in the United States. He has appeared on cable news show political panels and is Editor-in-Chief of The Moderate Voice, an Internet hub for independents, centrists and moderates. CNN’s John Avlon named him as one of the top 25 Centrists Columnists and Commentators. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org