The Dennis Miller Syndrome
October 9, 2008
That thud you heard over the weekend was the sound of An American Carol, the winger comedy directed by the least-talented third of the old Airplane! team, falling on its face at the box office.
The storyline — a Michael Moore-ish filmmaker who wants to ban the Fourth of July gets a lesson in patriotism from the ghosts of George Washington, George S. Patton and John F. Kennedy — is the kind of satire that would only fly with evangelical home-schoolers, and the script shuffles through every tired anti-left slander in the conservative playbook. Glenn Kenny actually paid good cash money to see the thing and found it only slightly more entertaining than getting poked in the eye with a flaming stick.
True to form, some of the parrots in the winger aviary are attributing the movie’s dismal showing to a nefarious liberal conspiracy. Hey, maybe An American Carol was really the weekend’s number-one movie and all those Michael Moore-loving ticket takers concealed the fact by shipping the box-office receipts to Syria, where even now they rest in underground vaults alongside the weapons of mass destruction that failed to turn up in Iraq. That scenario is at least as plausible as the nonsense being promoted on the wingerweb.
I gather from this interview that David Zucker, the director, is a member of the bedwetter brigade that became so frightened after 9/11 that it regressed to childhood and a longing for a big daddy to protect it from the scary dark-skinned people. You will recall that the same thing happened to Dennis Miller, whose supply of funny ran down the drain as he pimped for George W. Bush. Satire knows no ideological boundaries, but it does require at least some acknowledgement of reality if its darts are going to hit home. You can’t make a good satire if you yourself are the very stuff of satire. If you can look at the current occupant of the White House and see anything better than a lying sack of shit, then you cannot create good satire — you can only inspire it. Back when Jonathan Swift published “A Modest Proposal,” no doubt there was a royalist who took umbrage at all the fretting over Irish babies and wrote his own broadside in response. If so, nobody remembers it, because Swift was addressing reality, and his critics were denying it. In George W. Bush’s America, liberals make the satires and conservatives make the excuses.
Since conservatives have mastered the practice of using bulk orders to push sleazebags like Jerome Corsi up the New York Times bestseller list, perhaps Zucker should consider taking a page from the David Horowitz playbook and scam some Daddy Wingbucks into financing a mass buyup of the DVD edition of An American Carol, which I understand is due out in January. Maybe Sarah Palin can hawk copies on Sean Hannity’s show, because by then she’s going to have a lot more free time on her hands.