Posted on | January 1, 2014 | 15 Comments
A guy named Dean Obeidallah uses the Twitter handle @Deanofcomedy and was part of the MSNBC panel whose discussion of a Mitt Romney family photo led host Melissa Harris-Perry to apologize. Obeidallah evidently feels he got shortchanged, and that he didn’t get enough credit for his own “jokes” during that panel, because he’s written an entire column about it at the Daily Beast:
As a comedian and writer I have been called a lot of things—but up until yesterday no one had ever said I was a “baby bully.”
What did I do to deserve this new title? Have I been going around the neighborhood and shaking down babies for their lunch money? Have I been forcing babies to walk on the other side of the street when they see me? Nope.
I told a joke that many on the right — and even a few in the middle — didn’t like. This all happened Sunday when I was on MSNBC’s Melissa Harris Perry show with three other comedians for an episode called: “Look back on 2013 and Laugh.” . . .
One of the segments featured the panelists trying to come up with funny captions for various photos, including a photo of Mitt Romney’s extended family with their recently adopted African-American baby, “Kieran.” This photo had been tweeted out to the world by Romney on Christmas Eve.
Upon seeing the photo, I commented: “It really sums up the diversity of the Republican party, the RNC. At the convention, they find the one black person.” . . .
(If you were “trying to come up with funny captions,” this would be scored a failure. It simply is not funny.)
But on Monday apparently those on the right who monitor MSNBC were outraged. And by Monday night there were articles denouncing us as “baby bullies” in right-wing media outlets like The Blaze, Town Hall, The Daily Caller, Breitbart, et cetra. Fox News’ The Five covered the story with five its team of “racially diverse” co-hosts expressing outrage over racial insensitivity.
And, of course, my Twitter feed exploded with right-wing trolls attacking me. Leading the charge was conservative Dana Loesch who tweeted various comments to me such as: “You’re a baby-bullying bigot.”
Dean Obeidallah has a strange definition of “troll.” Generally speaking, people who use their online presence mainly to attack or harass others — which is a fair description of a troll — don’t have a lot of Twitter followers. Trolls are unpopular, by definition.
Who is the “troll” here?
Reading @Deanofcomedy expound on comedy is like listening to Stevie Wonder talking about What Things Look Like
— SquatchPride69 (@AceofSpadesHQ) December 31, 2013
The chronic snarkster isn’t snarking to communicate any particular idea, except for two very base, primitive ones:
1. We’re Superior to This Thing We’re Talking About, Whatever It Is, and
2. We Constitute a Tribe, You and I, Mutually Loyal To Each Other, Because We All Hoot and Grunt At the Same Things. . . .
In Hollywood fictions, as well as in alleged “news” stories recounted by the media, there are Designated Heroes and there are Designated Villains. Whatever the hero does is heroic not because of the intrinsic heroism of the action but simply because it is the Designated Hero doing it — and thus the action is heroic, simply because he performs it.
Likewise, everything the Designated Villain — here, the Romney family — does is villainous. Not because adopting a black orphan is villainous, but simply because the Villains are performing the action, and you know they must be up to no good. After all, they’re the Villains.
This is an apt summary not just of the calculus behind that particular segment, but of MSNBC as a network, and it reminds me of an observation I offered in November:
[I]n career fields where liberalism enjoys hegemonic dominance — including academia, the entertainment industry and especially journalism — being a liberal is an acceptable substitute for any virtue. In such environments, if a coward wishes to be praised for “courage” or a liar wants to be lauded for his “honesty,” he need merely be a dutiful outspoken liberal, and he will be showered with encomiums.
And if you are a tedious bore who wishes to be praised as “funny,” you become Dean Obeidallah, so that all your liberal friends are then obliged to play along with your pretenses to humor.