Remember the Superman cartoon where Bizarro Superman is running wild in Metropolis and nobody can figure out how to stop him, until Superman realizes that Bizarro will automatically oppose anything Superman says or does, so all he has to do to save the city is tell Bizarro he loves him? It’s possible that was just a dream I had, or an early-childhood experience. Anyway, Glenn Beck is the Bizarro Obama. If Obama says “Merry Christmas,” Beck has to wish us all a happy Fourth of July. If Obama likes cake, Beck has to go on TV and say, “No—me hate cake so much!” while eating handfuls of broccoli. It’s a professional obligation, and as the video above shows us, it sometimes puts him in a difficult position.
Beck is railing agains the Entertainment Industry Foundation, a Hollywood charitable organization that has recently announced a concerted, multi-show effort encouraging Americans to volunteer. EIF will run ad spots, muster celebrity endorsements and even, in some cases, work volunteering-related themes into the plotlines of popular TV shows. It’s the same technique Red Ribbon International employed in their famous Everybody Loves Raymond, Which Is Too Bad Because He’s Dying of AIDS episode. All of this is fine with me, as long as they don’t fuck with Tool Academy. Beck, on the other hand, sees a downside.
“It’s almost like we’re living in Mao’s China right now,” he says of the news that Alec Baldwin might ask us to bring an old lady lunch. Beck thinks is just a little too coincidental that EIF, after functioning as a “health, education and social service” organization for sixty years, should suddenly take up the sword for volunteering at the exact moment, give or take ten months, that Obama called for increased American volunteerism. He thinks it’s another instance of the President’s total control of the media, which he uses to promote his Socialist Agenda. Beck points out that the media went nuts when the Bush White House paid conservative columnists to promote administration policies. Granted, Obama isn’t paying anybody, whereas Bush used federal funds, and the Iraq war and No Child Left Behind are a little more political than the notion of helping one’s fellow man, but they’re basically the same thing. I mean, both involved the President and the media agreeing on something.
“Volunteering is working for free. Remember that,” Beck says. He’s quoting Ashton Kutcher, who appeared at Michael Bloomberg’s 9-11 Day of Service—”not a day of remembrance,” Beck reminds us bitterly—to deliver a series of what can only be described as unprepared remarks. Beck suggests that, if Kutcher is having a hard time finding reasons why people should volunteer, he should check out the writings of Karl Marx. Having successfully connected helping others with communism and thereby fulfilled his contract with the Devil for the rest of the day, he devotes the rest of his argument to repeating other people’s statements in a pussy voice.
Sarcasm is the lowest form of irony, Glenn Beck. He sells it particularly hard in that video, and I think it’s because even he can sense the absurdity of his position. The federal government has been encouraging people to volunteer in their communities forever, as has just about every other organization of public figures who don’t want to be seized and roasted for their protein-rich musculature. In fact, the importance of volunteering may be the one thing all segments of the political spectrum have agreed on throughout American history, until now. “Americans are some of the most generous people in the world,” Beck says. “Are we trying to fix a problem that doesn’t exist?” He implies that volunteering is not only a political tool of the Obama administration but actually unnecessary, something I’m sure homeless shelters and rural fire departments across the nation will be relieved to know. It’s a patently ridiculous position, and one that the otherwise grassroots-obsessed, non-governmental solutions-loving Beck takes up purely to be contrary.
Which would be kind of funny, if the man didn’t speak to 3 million people every day. At least for this episode, if Glenn Beck can convince even one person not to volunteer in his community, he’s done his job. That he calls it his job—that he makes $23 million a year doing it—makes it either a little bit better or a lot more horrible, depending on how you look at it. Probably, Glenn Beck is not actually against volunteering. In his heart of hearts, I suspect Glenn Beck believes that a bunch of Americans helping one another for free will make this country a better place. Which, when you think about it, makes his willingness to go on TV and say the opposite for money a lot worse.