The same gracious people who introduced me to Diamond & Silk also approached me with a suggestion that I watch the so called "Trump episode" of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. Knowing my time constraints and quality standards, they weren't very insistent. They said, "We think you may want to watch this one episode." But I didn't need much convincing anyway. After all, I liked John Oliver's Britishly offbeat, overly serious persona as a Senior British Correspondent on The Daily Show. I was excited when he got his own HBO program and even watched the premier on its first airing. It was quite good, but not stimulating enough to get on my must-watch list. Plus, I was somewhat creeped out by the overly excited John Oliver. So, that first episode was also my last. But if people I respect singled out another one for me, why not?
Granted his audience is small - it averages 0.9 million viewers per episode. Still, to go in front of 900,000 people and advertise yourself as a complete nincompoop, desperately ignorant of the most elemental insights every political commentator simply must have - that requires some seriously engorged balls. How he isn't dead from embarrassment is difficult to understand for someone like me. I mean, whatever subject he touched: public relations, social responsibility, campaign finance, corporate vs. individual contributions, wealth management, commercial lending, real estate, subprime mortgage industry, licensing - to put it mildly, he didn't know what the fuck he was talking about.
Well, I understand that John Oliver is "just a comedian" and encyclopedic standards should not be applied. But the power of political satire has always been in the full grasp of the subject matter. That's what gives laughter substance and makes it an effective weapon. Of course, I know better than to expect such quality here; still, he's got some gall talking out of his ass like that. Why discuss intangible assets with such authority, for instance? Trust me, it takes some heavy-duty modeling to evaluate those. My best guess is that Mr. Oliver is completely unaware how uninformed he comes off. Who's going to tell him? He is probably surrounded entirely by like-minded folk.
But forget the intellectualism; the most shocking element of the program for me was Mr. Oliver's conspicuous hatred toward Mr. Trump. The level of outrage, the voltage of disdain! You would think that Donald Trump's political agenda included cancelling the Bill of Rights and setting up labor camps! (Wait, that's the candidate on the other side, isn't it?) John Oliver was literally exploding with venom! At certain point he reached the state that can only be described as explosively deranged.
This spitting of lies and saliva at your opponents are, of course, the gold standard of yellow journalism. This is exactly how it's done: stretching some tweeted scheduling inaccuracies of a man, whose appointment book is fatter than John Oliver's head, into political lies; or reducing one of the most critically acclaimed musicians of the 21st century (albeit a controversial personality), who smashed hip-hop standards and garnered high praises from the likes of Paul McCartney and Lou Reed, to a "sociopath with a finger-free anus." I guess, that's the brand of programming HBO was expecting when they gave John Oliver what he describes as "creative freedom."
And making fun of immigrant's names?!!! That's just unseemly. It's nice for Mr. Oliver that his name originates in such deep WASP annals that it's unlikely to be misspelled here in America. But many Americans had there original names changed for the sake of assimilation (including Clinton and Sanders) or, even more frequently, misspelled upon entry by immigration clerks. My mother is a Cohen. There is like a hundred variations - Coen, Cohn, Kahn, Kohn, Koyen, Kagan, Kogan, Kogon, Kogen. Ask you friend John Leibowitz (a.k.a. Stewart), Mr. Oliver, and he will explain to you that these are all the same names. And my own names, both first and last? I can fill a volume larger than John Oliver's Earth book with misspellings. I am unequivocally in support of everyone's right to declare their political views; and, like Voltaire said, I will die for their freedom to do so; but that name bit has nothing to do with politics and it felt like a personal affront to me.
This whole tasteless attitude directed specifically towards one presidential candidate has all the makings of media bullying. And it sort of feels like HBO's mandate, doesn't it? First, Oliver's outrageous escapade. And now Ms. Lena Dunham, another HBO alumna with an even tinnier audience (700,000 viewers per episode average) but a larger bag of scandalous tricks, "threatens" the world with a promise to move to Canada if Donald J. Trump wins. Wow, some people! Not only their feminism but even their patriotism is skin-deep. "I don't like the executive part of my government, so bye-bye America!" I would expect a bit more gratitude to this country from someone with pilgrims on one side and Jewish immigrants on the other side of the family. But way to put yourself back in the news with this political barbarism!
Don't even get me started on the improbability and the emptiness of this threat! Moving to a "lovely place in Vancouver" and getting her "work done from there" only makes a person a short-term visitor to Canada. It's just silly! Trump still will be her President, she still will be paying federal taxes, and without a proper visa she will be asked to leave fairly soon. Giving up US citizenship and actually immigrating to Canada - that would be a serious step. And it's also a seriously difficult process. Unless she already has a Canadian family, gets a job in the oil industry, claims a political refugee status (no, Trump's presidency will not qualify), goes to school in Canada (a temporary solution anyway), marries a Canadian (maybe Taylor Swift can hook her up with Justin Bieber), or deposits $7.5 million with the Canadian government as an immigrant investor (with the supposed net worth of $12 mil and the only alive project going into the last season - I don't think so), she will have no chance to become a Canadian. But let's say her celebrity status gets her there somehow. I can only imagine her shock when she sees the tax bill and the diminished consumer basket she will be able to afford with the remainder of her earnings. And all those gynecological issues she habitually bares for the general public - they will be subjected to the state-run Canadian medical industry; very different from the wonderful care she receives in one of the best hospitals in the world here in New York.
Yet, apparently more celebrities are joining this unpatriotic trend of "moving to Canada" threats. Well, it just shows you how politically unsubstantial, unjustifiably empowered, uninformed, and removed from reality these people are. Ignorance is a bitch. If I were on Hillary's campaign I would've recommended her to immediately separate herself from this anti-American movement.
I cannot help but wonder whether these self-righteous entertainers with overblown egos (as well as their HBO bosses) understand that at the end of the day they are nothing more than tiny bolts in a humongous, stock-market fueled, corporate machine, i.e the Time Warner Inc. conglomerate, whose CEO makes $35 million annual salary. And come to think of it, considering the content-driven business model of a premium cable network such as HBO, this could be just a ploy of exploiting Trump's trailblazing persona for the sake of maximizing the big corporate daddy's profits and public stock values. I mean, the media is flooded with Lena Dunham's face like never before; and, according to HBO's statement, John Oliver's Trump episode broke the network's social media viewership record with 23 million YouTube and 62 million Facebook views. Isn't it amazing how Donald J. Trump's Midas touch works? He even turns the shit thrown at him into gold.
But you know what the scariest thing is? It's how fascist the supporters of both the democratic candidates are! They don't leave room for others' right to speak freely at all. These people are militant. One has to be really brave to declare her opposition to Hillary or Bernie in the liberal circles of New York and Hollywood. I guarantee you, these liberals wouldn't even think twice before secretly blacklisting such a daredevil. And heroism is dead (okay, almost dead). And so, with the exception of a few, people hide their true beliefs and yield under the oppression of these bullshit-spewing fanatics.