Why Glenn Beck Cries
My fellow Americans. Do you yearn for a simpler time, a happier time — a time when you weren’t continually bursting into tears? Of course you do! And Glenn Beck really does:
Though Glenn Beck seems like an easy target for satire, in reality, he is a complex target. What words could be more humorous or eloquent than those spoken in Mr. Beck’s own unique idiom? And how do you mock a video in which Glenn Beck breaks down crying over commercials for Coca-Cola and Kodak Film, and then breaks down crying again while relating a long anecdote that seems to be about him personally, and seems to involve him… being beaten by his dad?¹
After watching the above four-minute video, I slumped over in my chair and stared at my computer in a horrified trance. What… just happened? And then, still lost in that trance, I tried to think of some joke; any joke. Here’s what I came up with:
“WTF, Glenn Beck? What’s with the constant crying? Are you having… your goddamned PERIOD? Get a fucking grip, man!”
But no. That’s kind of a non-starter. And not very funny. And so, let’s not make fun. Rather, let us dispassionately analyze the message contained in Glenn Beck’s video:
1) Glenn Beck watches commercials from the Seventies, and then feels nostalgic for the Seventies, and then cries. Ah, yes. The 1970s. Who isn’t nostalgic for that decade? OPEC. The Vietnam War. The Cold War. Race riots. A recession. Terrorism. Cocaine overdoses. Polyester. Disco. Jimmy Carter declaring a “national malaise.” Ah; good times, good times.
2) Glenn Beck compares America to a teenager who catches a ride to a local party, but then America’s friends ditch him and he gets stuck out after midnight curfew and then comes home stinking of beer and pot and then America maybe possibly gets beaten by America’s dad.² …Huh. That’s weird. I would have compared America to two goth-y emo chicks who show up stoned for a 10:00 PM showing of “Twilight” but then get the munchies while standing in line and go and get some chicken strips and so are late for the movie and miss the previews and part of the first act. …Does my metaphor explain anything about America either? No. But then, Glenn Beck has set the bar pretty low.
So there’s that. But hey, why does Glenn Beck cry so much? It’s clear that Glenn Beck sees himself as a hero, a prophet, a modern-day Cassandra. He sees all the ills of modern America, and shouts out brave warnings that only a select band of loyal followers can understand and interpret. You’d be crying too. Glenn Beck weeps not for himself; he weeps for us.
Glenn Beck stares into the void, and the void stares back into him. And what does the void say? It whispers to him, in a low, sibilant voice: “Hey, man. Wasn’t America sooooo much better off when we didn’t have a black guy as President? Remember the 70s? Back when you were a teenager, and had no real responsibilities? Those were good times, amirite? …Coke prices were really low back then too.” And Glenn Beck nods, and licks his lips: “You’re right; you’re right. Things were better back then. …Man, I used to really love doing coke.”
And then Glenn Beck cries, thinking of the past, mourning the lost coke parties.
The tears of Glenn Beck express a universal human fallacy; the idea that, in some distant, dimly remembered past, things were different and everyone was really happy all the time. The first poet in the history of Western Literature expressed this theme as well. “Ubi sunt?” he said. “Where are the glories of the past?” That was in 750 B.C. If people were bitching and moaning about the present, and saying that the past was better 2,700 years ago… then maybe it’s safe to say that the present has always sucked, the past was never that great, and things have always been so-so-ish, just like they are today.
Glenn Beck weeps because he yearns for the impossible. He yearns for the past, but the past exists only in memory. He’s like a man chasing his own shadow. Step by step, he races towards the past, and step by step, the past recedes before him. And the faster he runs — the more he reaches out his grasp — the more the past eludes him.
And that is why Glenn Beck cries.
…Either that, or he’s just fucking faking it.
1) Unless I’m missing something here. “You’re going to get your butt kicked”? “It’s not going to hurt Dad more than it hurt you″? This lengthy, incoherent anecdote seems to involve him getting beaten by his father… right?
2) Or not. I really can’t tell! The metaphor gets really confusing by the end. But note that if we actually follow the metaphor to its logical conclusion, then Glenn Beck’s dad represents the King of England. …Think about it for a second and this will make sense to you. Or don’t think about it. I really don’t care.
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