Saturday, 23 October 2010

1st Epistle to the Foxnewsians (An Open Letter to Fox News)

Dear Foxnewsians,

I come to you with a confession. I confess that I have been fantasising about you rather a lot recently. Now, you may assume from this that what I need is to get laid, badly, because my fantasy life seems to be sorely lacking. And in this you are quite correct. But no, in my fantasy I am a guest on your network, being interviewed by whichever goon I drew in the Prize Goon Draw (although I notice there’s usually at least three of you, presumably because Fox presenters have a third of a personality each < Eddie Izzard, circa 1994: Remember to recycle kids.) Right as the interview was due to begin, I would raise my hand and, with a look of mock bafflement, ask, “Is this then a real news station?”

Rent-a-bigot would puff out his chest, throw his upturned palms out to his sides and boom, “Well of course it is.”

And I would reply, embarrassed, “Oh I’m sorry, I thought y’all just pretended to be simpletons so Jon Stewart has something to riff about.” And from there we would proceed to have an argument of epic proportions, with some shouting, some name calling, me taking a book from my pocket every time he talked over me, some finding of common ground and a confessional final act, before I emerged as the overall victor, because I believe in evolution, and in evolutionary battles the mammals always outwit the reptiles.

All of which is fine, but there is a problem. The problem is that while I am generally regarded as an erudite writer, I am a worse orator than your average Premiership centre-forward (look it up or you won’t learn!). I need time to go for a walk, think about what I want to say, sit down, do some research, confirm my basic assumptions. And only when I have done all that, only then do I make my opinion known. You should try it sometime.

Besides, what would be the point? Oh Foxnewsians, you are so deluded and so lacking in even the most rudimentary self-awareness, the kind one normally associates with plant life, that we wouldn’t get very far. How could we, I would have to stop you every 5 seconds to correct your misunderstanding of a word, phrase or hand gesture? For instance, I keep hearing mention of this group called the ‘lefty liberals’. Now who exactly do you mean by that? I know you will say they are the same, but actually they’re two disparate ideologies. Let’s deal with the lefty part first. Do you know the etymology of the terms left and right in politics? It is traditional in the British parliament that the government of the day sits to the right of the speaker, while those in opposition sit on the left. Hence, left and right. So, you are currently the lefties. The terms have no currency beyond that basic understanding.

Now liberal, if we set the liberals down in the traditional political spectrum, they are of the middle ground. In Britain, the Liberal Party were the ones in favour of slavery. Is this really how far to the right American politics has lurched that the furthest to the left one can now aspire to is the centre ground? BREAKING NEWS: American liberal media still significantly to the right of those found in most other democratic countries.

Another example, one which has been bothering me for some time. You keep referring to Barrack Obama as a Socialist. Now what does that mean? In my fantasy, I ask rent-a-bigot what he means by this. “You don’t know what a Socialist is?” he asks. “Yes.” I reply. “I’m just wondering if you do.” And anyway, what’s wrong with being a socialist? “Er, we’re just getting some breaking news reaching us, apparently Jesus was a socialist (‘You know Cathy, this is yet another example of pathetic Liberals trying to smear the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. If God’s so liberal, how come he told George Bush to invade Iraq then?’).” Jesus was a socialist. Consider this: “You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth. But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” Or this: “You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbour and hate your enemy. But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.” Or even this: “Sell your possessions and give to the poor.” What a sandal wearing liberal hippy freak!

As I understand that your audience is largely made up of people who claim Jesus Christ as their personal saviour, why on earth are they watching Fox? “I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, ‘You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell of fire.” Good luck down there guys.

Buy a dictionary and look up socialism because I guarantee you that whatever you think it means, that’s not what it means (Nn. You spigotty ang-glease? Nnn. You phonio saxo? Nnnn.). You use the NHS as an example of socialised healthcare and claim that in Britain the elderly are put to death. Where do you think we live exactly? I’ve worked in NHS complaints and I’ve seen what happens when the system goes wrong, but I do have two points to make. Firstly, the NHS is not the only nationalised healthcare system in the world you know: The French system, part public, part private, is regarded as the best in the world by the World Health Organisation. Canada, Australia, Japan, all have health care systems that are largely publically funded, and all of those countries have significantly higher life expectancies than the United States. And you know what else? The NHS may be far from perfect, but it is still significantly better than your system. A Briton’s life expectancy is still better than an American’s. You’re the richest country in the world, the greatest country in the world according to your goons, shouldn’t you then live longer than anyone else? Shouldn’t you have the best healthcare in the world? Glen Beck’s always crying about how much he loves his country (with as much conviction as Keanu Reeves’s English accent in Dracula), do the poor not count as his countrymen? Y’know, the people in those places in America that the UN says constitute part of the third world, the places where people can’t afford to get sick? If you’re so patriotic, how can that not make you sick? How can that not make you ashamed?

And can you see what a long time it has taken us to come such a short distance, simply from misunderstanding two not terribly difficult words? So how can we ever get ‘round to discussing our countries’ mutually dismal histories in Iraq, or how the cluster bomb is to the US Government what the crucifix was to the Romans, or how Clinton left your country in the black, and George Bush II sold your collective ass to the Chinese (which isn’t partisanship, Clinton did some pretty despicable things during his incumbency too, but at least he didn’t leave you another country’s bitch).

But we’d never get near that, you are so entrenched, oh Foxnewsians, in your dichotomous, 2d world, that you have forgone sentient thought, instead arbitrarily insisting that anything ‘conservative’ is good and anything ‘liberal’ is bad. If Obama is a Socialist, what does that make you? What is the opposite of socialism? I leave that as homework for next time.

Well, that is my confession. And I know you will never read this, for you ignore all that disagree with your blinkered world view (even yourself, five minutes in the past). So instead I will write these letters for the enjoyment of my fellow mammals. I know if you did read this, I would be quoted out of context and called anti-American, which is a curious thing to be accused of: How can you be prejudiced against 280 million people all at once? Who’s got the energy for all that?

So I say keep up the good work. Many of my friends regularly record Hannity and The O’Neill Factor because they are funnier than most of the current crop of British comedy. Keep it up, we can hear the sound of your audience de-evolving from across the pond. Read ‘The Time Machine’, for that is the dystopian future to which you are leading your viewers. Actually, you’d probably be better renting the movie (the one with Rod Taylor from 1960).

They say end on a joke, so here’s another bit of recycling, this time from a great American, Mark Twain: Imagine that you were an idiot. Imagine that you were a Fox News presenter. But, I repeat myself.

Keep it up, you shall hear from me anon.

Amused, Manchester (buy an atlas).

Mark Twain imagining he were a member of Congress 

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