Black on Red

Cross-posted at Punchline Magazine, word!

While some members of Team Coco are undoubtedly going to be out for the blood of Black, comedian/professional pitchman Michael Ian Black does raise some pretty decent (and certainly thought-provoking) questions with his blog post on the whole late night debacle. Taking a politically charged stance, Black posits that the cultural intrigue surrounding Conan and NBC’s public squabbles may have less to do with the desire for a Jay Leno lynching than a general dissatisfaction and outrage surrounding looming lay-off rates and corporate muckracking by recession robber barons:

I think the deeper reason people are so inflamed by this petty war is that Conan in his own way has come to represent the aggrieved, the injured, the wrongly terminated. I think there is a sense in this country that giant corporations are ruining everything, even late night talk shows. Something so insignificant takes on greater importance because I think on some level, “The Tonight Show” actually has become a very flawed stand-in for all the jobs lost to corporate greed, arrogance, and stupidity. We see Conan as a victim because we feel as though, like us, he wasn’t given a fair shot. If a guy like that, a guy who has everything, can be downsized and demoted, what hope do the rest of us have?

In a move that might have the unintended consequences of infuriating the millions of Team Coco pledge-ees, Black then goes on to chastise the masses gathered to rally on Conan’s behalf. (Not entirely wrongly, in this author’s humble opinion.)

Sure it’s a shame it didn’t work out for Conan, the most creative talk show host since David Letterman, and I think it’s great he took a principled stand against NBC, but is this really the stuff of rallies? Is this really where we want to spend our political capital? If you have the energy to protest Conan O’Brien’s departure in Burbank, shouldn’t you maybe think about spending some time chanting outside General Motors or Goldman Sachs? Or Congress? This is the cause you want to get involved with? Instead of holding up placards with the Masturbating Bear on them, maybe donate a pint of blood. It’ll be a lot more helpful to somebody.

I must admit – until I read Black’s post, considering this a political issue hadn’t crossed my mind. But as my roommate said, rhetoric like this may serve to shed light upon the real reasons why so many feel so up-in-arms about Conan’s mistreatment at the cold, corporate digits of NBC. Granted, much of the public outcry can be directly attributed to Conan’s unshakeable and unwaveringly committed fan-base, but I think Black touches on a very relevant – if unexplored – cause; that being a general, ongoing seething resentment for what Fortune 500 demons have done to this country, our jobs, our families, and our livelihood.

Since I wrote this original post for Punchline, Black has since published a second, crow-eating blog on his opinion (unnecessary cow-towing to the haters, in my mind), but I think his preliminary thesis still resounds widely. It's really an angle that, 'til this point, no one has given adequate consideration to, and as much as I adore and respect MIB, I would never have pegged him as the Voltaire-ian sharp-shooter to do so.

Much respect, Michael Ian Black. You've certainly given me (and probably the slanted and disenchanted masses) serious pause on the subject matter.

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