David Neiwert uses Kelsey Grammer’s divorce (from his blonde trophy wife for one twenty years younger) to make a larger point that some of us can relate to.
We’ve all encountered it: former college pals, or hometown buds, or old flames, or coworkers, or brothers-in-law, or grandfathers — all convinced now that you’ve become a bad person because you’re aiding and abetting those evil liberals in their attempt to destroy America. And what happens on an interpersonal scale is often ugly. It happens at Thanksgiving tables, at weddings and family reunions, when you go home to visit and see your old friends, or at work with people you’ve been friends with for years.
There are several reasons for it. The first is that the relentless message of the right-wing talkers, whether at Fox or on the radio, is simple and unmistakable: Liberals are bad people, sick in their souls, and they want to destroy America and your way of life. Day and day out, that’s the message the True Believers get. And boy, do they believe it.
The second is that, as Nicole reported awhile back, it’s been definitively established that Fox News watchers are deliberately malinformed — that is, they believe a broad array of things that are factually untrue, but have been told by Fox News that they are true:
Fox News is deliberately misinforming its viewers and it is doing so for a reason. Every issue above is one in which the Republican Party had a vested interest. The GOP benefited from the ignorance that Fox News helped to proliferate.
As we’ve explained on many occasions, this kind of rhetoric alienates people from reality — including the people who choose to live in that reality. By functionally unhinging people — there is no other way to describe the effect of persuading people to believe, doggedly and unshakably, in things that are provably untrue, even in the fact of irrevocable factual evidence — it serves to drive a real wedge between them and everyone else, while conversely forging powerful bonds with the like-minded.
Finally, it must be understood that the mission of both Fox News and talk radio is not merely to propagandize with disinformation, but also to inflame. This is why conspiracy theories — which, functionally speaking, are narratives intended to induce simultaneous feelings of powerlessness and paranoia — abound on Fox News. There’s no one quite as congenitally angry as a congenital Fox Watcher.
No wonder Grammer didn’t want to snuggle. What Fox News does is make people want to go out and beat up liberals. As Joy Behar says: What a turn-on, eh?
This isn’t a problem just affecting Hollywood marriages. It’s affecting millions of personal relationships, and in a decidedly poisonous way. Fox News, as Bill O’Reilly likes to say about the “far left,” really is bad for America — bad for our politics, bad for national discourse, and really, really bad for our friendships and family ties, the very real fabric of our society.
Conservative mythology states for a fact that conservatives were hated and treated as Neanderthal (and since when did anthropologists started dropping the “h” and say “Neandertal?” Their Latin name is still Homo neanderthalensis…talk about a pointless change) troglodytes in society with the advent of the dirty hippies and the Geraldine Ferraros of the world. They’re uncool in universities so they have to spawn a book industry whining about it (while being decidedly anti-intellectual on any scientific manner that interferes with their religious beliefs/economic incentives). They can’t believe that their views aren’t more popular among artists. And yes, no doubt many conservatives have been given a lot of heat in their personal lives for their beliefs by the occasional liberal who’s feeling self-righteous.
Yet, is what conservatives want simply exaggerated revenge, where Republicans just sit around telling each other that liberals are demons hellbent on destroying our good Christian prosperous society until they can’t contain the rage anymore and start ranting at family functions?