The last few weeks, conservative freakshow Matt Drudge has gone out of his way to try and get comedian Chris Rock fired from his Oscar-hosting duties on Sunday, because of remarks on a variety of hot-button topics. He seems to have forgotten that Rock is a comedian... but I digress. Slate's John Swansburg maintains that Rock's act is decidedly "red-state," making Drudge's mission especially foolish.
Though Drudge claims the academy "went to the gutter" by picking Rock, where it actually went was to the right. Rock may speak the irreverent language of blue comedy, but more often than not, his ideas are red-state red.Having seen Rock's show, and watched his comedy specials, I think this view is off by quite a bit. To be sure he is no partisan Democrat, but I never hear him as especially conservative, even when I occasionaly disagree with the implication of his joke (which, after all, is a joke anyway). Why is it anti-liberal to make fun of parents for regularly leaving their kids at home to pursue their own late-night social life? And to suggest--in a joke--that more parental attention can keep a kid from becoming troubled and anti-social?
Take, for instance, the opening numbers in Bigger & Blacker, the HBO special Rock did in 1999. He begins with a discussion of the Columbine shootings, then recent, dismissing attempts to examine the shooters' psychology. "What ever happened to crazy?" he demands. He next turns to gun control, which he's against, and single mothers, whom he also doesn't like. "If a kid calls his grandma 'mama' and his mama 'Pam,' he's going to jail," Rock explains. To all the women who leave their kids at home so they can pop some bubbly at the club, Rock has this advice: "Go take care of those kids before they rob me in 10 years."
Sub a few $10 words for some F bombs, and this material could almost have come out of the hallowed jowls of William F. Buckley Jr.
Swansburg offers no evidence that Rock is "against" gun control (he may be, I don't know), and even less that he "doesn't like" single mothers. Most single mothers don't withdraw from their children to let grandma raise them, even if grandmothers play a heightened role. If Rock is critical of anything in that joke, it's of that unfortunate withdrawal from being a parent at all. Most all of us recognize that as a problem and a warning indicator for the well-being of the child's future. That is a long way from being generally critical of "single mothers."
So what is he talking about? Has anyone else gotten a more offensively conservative vibe from Chris Rock than I have? My radar for such things is usually pretty finely tuned. If he was on the college lecture circuit promoting childhood development theories, I may be a bit concerned of his direction. But he's, you know, a comedian. Sterotype and hyperbole are standard tools of the trade, no?