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Old 01-26-2016, 01:38 PM
Rodgers01 Rodgers01 is offline
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Real Time with Bill Maher

This thread has a side conversation going on about Bill Maher's show in general, and I thought it would be worth broadening that conversation into a topic of its own.

Personally, I really enjoy the show. I never watch it (don't have HBO) but I listen to the podcast version, which is literally just the audio track from the regular show. I'm actually surprised that HBO gives it away for free because I seldom feel like I'm missing anything by not having the visual.

Some thoughts: Maher is not a great comedian (I'd have little interest in seeing his standup), but I think he's a fair-minded and interesting host. He usually gets together a good panel of people with diverse opinions and makes sure they all get a chance to talk. He seems sincerely grateful to have people with differing perspectives come on. The topics of discussion are usually interesting. He lets his guests speak - too often, actually, they won't shut up. He's not afraid to be contrarian himself. (Speaking of which, several posters on the other thread mentioned that they won't have anything to do with him once they'd heard he's anti-vacc. Frankly I'd completely forgotten about that. It was a blip that came up in a few episodes a year or two back, and he was not "anti-vacc" so much as cautiously skeptical. It's hardly a mainstay of the show, unlike, say, his opposition to religion or his support of legalized marijuana.)

On the negative side when Maher himself gets to speak (again, most of the conversation is between his guests) he can be too strident and snide for my tastes. I'm an atheist myself, but geez - not everyone who believes in religion is a drooling idiot. Also, you can't brush off any and all Republican opposition to President Obama as them not wanting to support "President Blackenstein", as he's ever eager to assert.

Still, though, I find the show an enjoyable chance to hear a clamor of opinions on what's in the news. Thoughts?
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Old 01-26-2016, 01:49 PM
CarnalK CarnalK is offline
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You brought up my problems with the guy, he's just so snide and caustic that he wears on my nerves even when I agree with him. For instance, the religion thing. I too am an atheist but shut the fuck up already about it. Years ago I would tune him in because I enjoyed the discussion to some degree, but I just can't take him anymore.

Last edited by CarnalK; 01-26-2016 at 01:50 PM.
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Old 01-26-2016, 01:58 PM
wolfpup wolfpup is offline
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Maher is a polarizing figure and I suspect some will try to take this thread in a direction in which my only response can be "haters gotta hate". But personally I never miss his show and really enjoy his sarcastic biting wit -- the fact that sometimes it's over the top just makes it funnier. I get why those with opposing points of view can get riled up. But gentle persuasion of those with differing viewpoints is neither his purpose nor his style -- his style is what he'd regard as a merciless all-out assault on idiocy.

It's really not hard to define why his show is well worth watching except for staunchly ideological right-wingers -- I listed some of his past guests here -- his guest interviewees and panelists are generally accomplished, intelligent, articulate people representing views across the political spectrum. It's informative and sometimes hilariously funny at the same time -- what's not to like? As I mentioned before, there's a reason that Real Time has been nominated for a Prime Time Emmy almost every single year in its 14-year run so far.
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Old 01-26-2016, 02:04 PM
CarnalK CarnalK is offline
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I most often don't disagree with him. He's just kind of an annoying dick.
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Old 01-26-2016, 02:25 PM
wolfpup wolfpup is offline
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I most often don't disagree with him. He's just kind of an annoying dick.
Some people just don't like his style of humor, and that's fine. Personally I do, and I go into humor withdrawal when his show is on one of its holiday breaks!

The common criticism I hear about Maher is that he's "arrogant and smug". Folks, the subtitle of his second New Rules book is "Why everybody but me has their head up their ass" -- it would take a pretty dry and humorless person to think that this is his serious persona! This is his whole schtick -- so again, it comes down to liking his style or not. One might have said the same thing about the great George Carlin, whose basic schtick was to punctuate every observation with a bunch of f-words and whose basic humor setup was that everyone in the world was an idiot. Not everyone's cup of tea, either.

Seinfeld summed up Maher perfectly: "he just doesn't care". In the good natured sense of not being obsessed with what people think of him. Rather admirable, actually. In the informal and offbeat Comedians in Cars series, Maher was one of the more congenial and entertaining guests. One of the few who let the privacy of his own home be invaded.
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Old 01-26-2016, 02:33 PM
billfish678 billfish678 is offline
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Here is my beef with Maher.

He will take a given situation and will make it into a joke. Which is fine.

But I get the impression that HE THINKS that actually proves something.

I could probably come up with some funny joke that ends up with Obama saying "don't ask me...I'm fron Kenya!". Might even be funny as hell. Has fuck all to do with Obama ACTUALLY being from Kenya (or not obviously).
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Old 01-26-2016, 02:36 PM
John Mace John Mace is offline
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Originally Posted by wolfpup View Post
Maher is a polarizing figure and I suspect some will try to take this thread in a direction in which my only response can be "haters gotta hate". But personally I never miss his show and really enjoy his sarcastic biting wit -- the fact that sometimes it's over the top just makes it funnier. I get why those with opposing points of view can get riled up. But gentle persuasion of those with differing viewpoints is neither his purpose nor his style -- his style is what he'd regard as a merciless all-out assault on idiocy.

It's really not hard to define why his show is well worth watching except for staunchly ideological right-wingers -- I listed some of his past guests here -- his guest interviewees and panelists are generally accomplished, intelligent, articulate people representing views across the political spectrum. It's informative and sometimes hilariously funny at the same time -- what's not to like? As I mentioned before, there's a reason that Real Time has been nominated for a Prime Time Emmy almost every single year in its 14-year run so far.
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Originally Posted by wolfpup View Post
Some people just don't like his style of humor, and that's fine. Personally I do, and I go into humor withdrawal when his show is on one of its holiday breaks!

The common criticism I hear about Maher is that he's "arrogant and smug". Folks, the subtitle of his second New Rules book is "Why everybody but me has their head up their ass" -- it would take a pretty dry and humorless person to think that this is his serious persona! This is his whole schtick -- so again, it comes down to liking his style or not. One might have said the same thing about the great George Carlin, whose basic schtick was to punctuate every observation with a bunch of f-words and whose basic humor setup was that everyone in the world was an idiot. Not everyone's cup of tea, either.

Seinfeld summed up Maher perfectly: "he just doesn't care". In the good natured sense of not being obsessed with what people think of him. Rather admirable, actually. In the informal and offbeat Comedians in Cars series, Maher was one of the more congenial and entertaining guests. One of the few who let the privacy of his own home be invaded.
Agreed and agreed. It's one of my favorite shows. It falls flat once in awhile (maybe 1 out of 10 episodes), but when it's good, it's great. I rarely laugh as hard as I do watching him.

He's a bit of a vaccine nutter, but not as bad as most of that stripe.
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Old 01-26-2016, 03:03 PM
SaharaTea SaharaTea is offline
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I hate his standup, but I enjoy the rest of the show. I agree he can be obnoxious about religious people. But given the enormous amount of religious hypocrisy in our country, and the fact that atheism is still a huge obstacle for anyone running for public office, I don't blame him for harping on the subject.

Maher recently started a petition to get President Obama on the show before his term ends. He's never been on, which is strange considering he's been on just about every other show. I wonder if it's something personal. With a few exceptions, Maher has good things to say about his presidency.
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Old 01-26-2016, 03:04 PM
Mahaloth Mahaloth is offline
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He was better on Politically Incorrect, which should have never been cancelled. I haven't watched as much of Real Time, but he seems more.....cynical/rude/caustic. I'm not sure what adjective to use, but he's different.
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Old 01-26-2016, 03:25 PM
phreesh phreesh is offline
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His show would be GREAT if it had 100% less Bill Maher.

Lots of intelligent, interesting people discussing important issues with a rude jester periodically interjecting himself.
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Old 01-26-2016, 03:27 PM
CarnalK CarnalK is offline
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He was better on Politically Incorrect, which should have never been cancelled. I haven't watched as much of Real Time, but he seems more.....cynical/rude/caustic. I'm not sure what adjective to use, but he's different.
Yeah I enjoyed Politically Incorrect more too. I can't be sure if it's because he changed or I did, tbh. I'll never forget the bit that apparently got him fired "Call them what you like, but the 9/11 hijackers weren't cowards". It was a fair point and pretty gutsy to say - I have a hard time believing he delivered that one solely for shock value.
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Old 01-26-2016, 03:35 PM
BigT BigT is offline
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Originally Posted by wolfpup View Post
Some people just don't like his style of humor, and that's fine. Personally I do, and I go into humor withdrawal when his show is on one of its holiday breaks!

The common criticism I hear about Maher is that he's "arrogant and smug". Folks, the subtitle of his second New Rules book is "Why everybody but me has their head up their ass" -- it would take a pretty dry and humorless person to think that this is his serious persona! This is his whole schtick -- so again, it comes down to liking his style or not. One might have said the same thing about the great George Carlin, whose basic schtick was to punctuate every observation with a bunch of f-words and whose basic humor setup was that everyone in the world was an idiot. Not everyone's cup of tea, either.

Seinfeld summed up Maher perfectly: "he just doesn't care". In the good natured sense of not being obsessed with what people think of him. Rather admirable, actually. In the informal and offbeat Comedians in Cars series, Maher was one of the more congenial and entertaining guests. One of the few who let the privacy of his own home be invaded.
And you've just shown why it the comedy excuse doesn't work. Carlin had a caustic style, but he wasn't an asshole. Despite his arrogant jokes, the underlying message was one that showed he cared about other people. The underlying character of Carlin was that he cared so much about people that stupid stuff made him angry.

Maher completely lacks this. The sympathy isn't there. It isn't that I don't like his humor. It's that, once I take away the humor, the message is still shitty. He's not a good guy who plays an arrogant character. He's an arrogant guy who covers it up with humor.

I like arrogant humor. Either it can have a message that I think is decent (even if I don't fully agree), or it can be completely message-free. Maher's problem is not his humor style but his content. It's hateful.

Throw in what we do know about him as a person: anti-vax means anti-science, and his anti-Muslim stuff is a form of bigotry. He makes a big deal about of how crappy being politically correct is--something liberals believe just means being a nice person. I found out the last time we discussed the guy here that he contributed a bunch of stuff to Obama's campaign. But did that turn out to be because he believed in his uplifting message? Nope, it was, as he said, because he thought he would make more money that way.

He doesn't seem all that different to me than the worst people on the Right. They deny the science of evolution and/or anthropogenic climate change. They are generally anti-Muslim. They whine about political correctness. They make their decisions based on how much money it will make them.

I just don't think you can blame the problem on not liking his style of humor. Hell, I've even occasionally found what he's said funny. It's just that, if I wait just a little longer after the joke, he does or says something offputting again.

I know we don't have Jon Stewart anymore, who basically did Maher but as a decent person. But there's still Jon Oliver or Stephen Colbert--even if the latter is now watered down. And some Daily Show or Nightly Show stuff still pull out zingers. I fail to see any reason to watch the asshole do it.
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Old 01-26-2016, 03:36 PM
wolfpup wolfpup is offline
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Maher recently started a petition to get President Obama on the show before his term ends. He's never been on, which is strange considering he's been on just about every other show. I wonder if it's something personal. With a few exceptions, Maher has good things to say about his presidency.
It's not personal -- Maher donated $1 million to Obama's 2012 campaign, and though Maher is fairly wealthy, that's still serious money to him.

I can only speculate why Obama hasn't been on the show but I can think of some reasons. I said earlier that there are several guest formats into which Obama could be slotted, but in rethinking that I'm not sure that any are really suitable. The one-on-one interview at the beginning? It ends with Maher leaving the guest and going off to join the panelists, not really a very dignified way to abandon the President of the United States. Showing up as a panelist to argue with the other panelists? Not really cool. Appearing as the "special guest" mid-show? Not really different than being a panelist. So they'd likely have to arrange some special format.

And AFAIK the other shows Obama has appeared on have either been non-political or a kind of "politics lite". Real Time is sometimes serious stuff, and, as already said, sometimes divisive. And the perceived anti-Muslim meme, however one might want to defend it, is antithetical to a significant message the administration is trying to promulgate. I suspect those last two are the biggies. Obama likes to appear on a show and crack a few lighthearted jokes, maybe make a serious point or two, not become embroiled in a national controversy. He doesn't want to be Ben Affleck in another Maher-Affleck type confrontation. I'm not saying he shouldn't appear, and I hope he does, but I think these things figure in the thought process.

Also the show's signature feature is that it's live, broadcast from LA at 7:00 PM Pacific time. I suppose they could make an exception and tape Obama's appearance or do remote from DC, but the logistics are a complication.
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Old 01-26-2016, 03:58 PM
Rodgers01 Rodgers01 is offline
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He was better on Politically Incorrect, which should have never been cancelled. I haven't watched as much of Real Time, but he seems more.....cynical/rude/caustic. I'm not sure what adjective to use, but he's different.
More HBO, perhaps?

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Originally Posted by BigT View Post
And you've just shown why it the comedy excuse doesn't work. Carlin had a caustic style, but he wasn't an asshole. Despite his arrogant jokes, the underlying message was one that showed he cared about other people. The underlying character of Carlin was that he cared so much about people that stupid stuff made him angry.

Maher completely lacks this. The sympathy isn't there. It isn't that I don't like his humor. It's that, once I take away the humor, the message is still shitty. He's not a good guy who plays an arrogant character. He's an arrogant guy who covers it up with humor.

I like arrogant humor. Either it can have a message that I think is decent (even if I don't fully agree), or it can be completely message-free. Maher's problem is not his humor style but his content. It's hateful.

Throw in what we do know about him as a person: anti-vax means anti-science, and his anti-Muslim stuff is a form of bigotry. He makes a big deal about of how crappy being politically correct is--something liberals believe just means being a nice person. I found out the last time we discussed the guy here that he contributed a bunch of stuff to Obama's campaign. But did that turn out to be because he believed in his uplifting message? Nope, it was, as he said, because he thought he would make more money that way.

He doesn't seem all that different to me than the worst people on the Right. They deny the science of evolution and/or anthropogenic climate change. They are generally anti-Muslim. They whine about political correctness. They make their decisions based on how much money it will make them.

I just don't think you can blame the problem on not liking his style of humor. Hell, I've even occasionally found what he's said funny. It's just that, if I wait just a little longer after the joke, he does or says something offputting again.

I know we don't have Jon Stewart anymore, who basically did Maher but as a decent person. But there's still Jon Oliver or Stephen Colbert--even if the latter is now watered down. And some Daily Show or Nightly Show stuff still pull out zingers. I fail to see any reason to watch the asshole do it.
I hear what you're saying, but funnily enough I get the opposite feeling from Maher. Caustic though he can be, I get the impression that after the show he'd enjoy continuing the conversation with all his guests, conservative and liberal alike, over drinks (or...smokes). As I said before, I get the impression that he genuinely appreciates having people on who disagree with him, who can challenge him and challenge his audience. You mentioned Stewart, and to me he seemed to live much more in an echo chamber. If you bumped into him in real life and disagreed with him on something I imagine Stewart would be much more cutting and dismissive than Maher would be, who I imagine would be sarcastic but would engage you. To each their own, though.

ETA: I think people make too much of the supposedly anti-vacc thing. As mentioned, I listen to the show regularly and had all but forgotten about it. I don't think it's fair to categorize Maher as overall "anti-science" based on that.

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Originally Posted by wolfpup View Post
It's not personal -- Maher donated $1 million to Obama's 2012 campaign, and though Maher is fairly wealthy, that's still serious money to him.

I can only speculate why Obama hasn't been on the show but I can think of some reasons. I said earlier that there are several guest formats into which Obama could be slotted, but in rethinking that I'm not sure that any are really suitable. The one-on-one interview at the beginning? It ends with Maher leaving the guest and going off to join the panelists, not really a very dignified way to abandon the President of the United States. Showing up as a panelist to argue with the other panelists? Not really cool. Appearing as the "special guest" mid-show? Not really different than being a panelist. So they'd likely have to arrange some special format.

And AFAIK the other shows Obama has appeared on have either been non-political or a kind of "politics lite". Real Time is sometimes serious stuff, and, as already said, sometimes divisive. And the perceived anti-Muslim meme, however one might want to defend it, is antithetical to a significant message the administration is trying to promulgate. I suspect those last two are the biggies. Obama likes to appear on a show and crack a few lighthearted jokes, maybe make a serious point or two, not become embroiled in a national controversy. He doesn't want to be Ben Affleck in another Maher-Affleck type confrontation. I'm not saying he shouldn't appear, and I hope he does, but I think these things figure in the thought process.

Also the show's signature feature is that it's live, broadcast from LA at 7:00 PM Pacific time. I suppose they could make an exception and tape Obama's appearance or do remote from DC, but the logistics are a complication.
A couple years ago Maher did a special episode in which he spent the entire hour interviewing Gore Vidal. (Or was it Norman Mailer? I can't remember.) If Obama goes on his show I imagine he would do something similar.

Last edited by Rodgers01; 01-26-2016 at 04:02 PM.
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Old 01-26-2016, 04:08 PM
GargoyleWB GargoyleWB is offline
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In general I enjoy the show, mostly for the free-form and unpredictable discussion panels. I think the show has declined over the recent few seasons due to Maher sliding from sarcasm and wit into just being a cranky old-man contrarian. Similar to George Carlin's slide.
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Old 01-26-2016, 04:55 PM
ISiddiqui ISiddiqui is offline
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Originally Posted by SaharaTea View Post
I hate his standup, but I enjoy the rest of the show. I agree he can be obnoxious about religious people. But given the enormous amount of religious hypocrisy in our country, and the fact that atheism is still a huge obstacle for anyone running for public office, I don't blame him for harping on the subject.

Maher recently started a petition to get President Obama on the show before his term ends. He's never been on, which is strange considering he's been on just about every other show. I wonder if it's something personal. With a few exceptions, Maher has good things to say about his presidency.
It may be a result of your first paragraph. Obama, being a serious religious believer, may not enjoy Maher's obnoxiousness towards people of faith.

I agree that Maher is smug and arrogant and generally an asshole. Some people think that's funny. A lot of people don't. I also dislike how Maher basically follows up really offensive comments (which Maher isn't using as a punchline, but as his actual POV) with "I'm just being honest", it's strikes me as saying "I'm not racist, but..." before saying something incredibly racist.

I also think that billfish678 is right - Maher seems to think a joke makes some sort of political point, which is not necessarily the case.
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Old 01-26-2016, 05:06 PM
wolfpup wolfpup is offline
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And you've just shown why it the comedy excuse doesn't work. Carlin had a caustic style, but he wasn't an asshole. Despite his arrogant jokes, the underlying message was one that showed he cared about other people. The underlying character of Carlin was that he cared so much about people that stupid stuff made him angry.

Maher completely lacks this. The sympathy isn't there. It isn't that I don't like his humor. It's that, once I take away the humor, the message is still shitty. He's not a good guy who plays an arrogant character. He's an arrogant guy who covers it up with humor.

I like arrogant humor. Either it can have a message that I think is decent (even if I don't fully agree), or it can be completely message-free. Maher's problem is not his humor style but his content. It's hateful.
I don't know Bill Maher personally and I suspect neither do you, so how is it possible that we all watch the same show and you conclude that he's an arrogant asshole, yet folks like myself, John Mace, Rodgers01, and approximately four million viewers seem to feel quite the opposite? The funny thing is that I'm actually quite sensitized to assholes, to the extent for instance that I cannot watch a movie that features an A-list known asshole.

I suggest that it's because, contrary to your claim, it **is** about the style of humor. It's biting and sarcastic humor and it's a style that helps drive in the point it's trying to make, at least with those who aren't put off by the style. The "arrogance" is exactly the George Carlin kind of put-on, and it's the idea behind the "New Rules" segment at the end which is also the basis of two of his books -- it's actually really witty social commentary. Maybe I appreciate it because dry sarcasm without great regard for political correctness is kind of my own style. But I'm hardly the only one who appreciates him.

In fact, there's something about that whole panel segment -- the cerebral, witty conversation on a late Friday night -- that always evokes a relaxing mental image of a fireplace in the background and wine glasses glittering in the firelight while good friends discuss and debate the issues of the day. It's homey and inviting. "Hateful" would be the very last word that came to mind to describe it.
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Throw in what we do know about him as a person: anti-vax means anti-science, and his anti-Muslim stuff is a form of bigotry. He makes a big deal about of how crappy being politically correct is--something liberals believe just means being a nice person.
OK, I watch his show all the time and I've heard the alleged "anti-vax" stuff just once, IIRC, and I can't even remember what his point was, that's how big a deal it was. It's hardly a hot button with him. "Anti-science"? You must be joking. Maher has had on his show some of the most prominent scientists and science advocates of our time!

And gimme a break with this "nice person" stuff again. How do you know Maher isn't a nice person? And why does it even matter, if he's doing good things -- providing informative conversation, healthy laughter, and advocating for good causes like intelligent politicians and environmental responsibility?

As I said, I appreciate his style of humor because it's much like my own. Indeed I got slammed by a couple of posters in these very forums recently when I criticized a politician and used a pejorative that was deemed politically incorrect. To me the word just made the criticism more colorful and pithy. The interesting thing is that they chose to ignore the entire substance of an important criticism of an incompetent and malignant political figure in order to wail and whine about the use of a particular word. The entire substance was lost in the faux-indignant cacophony. If that's political correctness, you can have it. I know how Bill Maher feels.
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I found out the last time we discussed the guy here that he contributed a bunch of stuff to Obama's campaign. But did that turn out to be because he believed in his uplifting message? Nope, it was, as he said, because he thought he would make more money that way.
I've never heard this. When did he say that? What did he say? I honestly want to know. I can't imagine how the election of Obama would make Maher more money. Comedians and pundits generally profit handsomely when the likes of Sarah Palin or Donald Trump are in the news.
  #18  
Old 01-26-2016, 05:25 PM
Nonsuch Nonsuch is offline
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And you've just shown why it the comedy excuse doesn't work. Carlin had a caustic style, but he wasn't an asshole. Despite his arrogant jokes, the underlying message was one that showed he cared about other people. The underlying character of Carlin was that he cared so much about people that stupid stuff made him angry.
Did you hear any of Carlin's last, oh, six or so specials? "Compassion" was not his bag. He thought people were venal, destructive idiots and made no bones about saying so, not out of hope for making them better, but because it was fun. (Carlin's 2001 special Complaints and Grievances was going to be called I Kinda Like It When a Lot of People Die before 9/11 intervened.) Check out this interview with Dennis Miller. Representative quote:

Quote:
I don't care what happens to you. I don't care what happens to your country. I don't care what happens to your species. You can go get fucked, because it's fun to watch you destroy each other.
Miller's expressions throughout are kind of priceless; he plainly didn't know what he was getting into.
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Old 01-26-2016, 05:41 PM
CarnalK CarnalK is offline
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There was a joke Iiked, don't remember who said it:
"I'd rather die in a nuclear holocaust with billions of other people rather than alone in some car crash. But I guess that's just because I'm a 'people person'". Lewis Black maybe?


Anyway, I never liked Carlin either. Just didn't find him funny most ofthe time, not so much his attitude or aanything.
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Old 01-26-2016, 07:57 PM
marshmallow marshmallow is offline
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Maher is an asshole and he's funny. They're not mutually exclusive. The panel's mix of lefty libs and fundamentalist pubs leads to some top tier cringe comedy, which makes some people uncomfortable. It's funny when there's an establishment guy there who has a reputation to uphold and everyone is making racial and sex jokes and being edgy as hell and they're sweating bullets thinking what the hell did I get myself into. I especially like it when Maher triggers his lib crowd, they start to boo, then he makes an even worse joke and they start laughing again despite themselves. Never watch a show like this to be informed.

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But there's still Jon Oliver or Stephen Colbert--even if the latter is now watered down.
Oliver has about four jokes:

1. Mention a stat or a fact. How bad is it? Explain it with a random analogy. The quirkier, the more pop culture references, the better.

2. Yelling at an imaginary person like they're a dog or a small child. Bad Trump! No cookies! You're ruining it for everyone else!

3. Point out how someone looks like someone else.

4. Mislabeling maps or showing the wrong infographic. I'll admit to still laughing at the map thing, though.
  #21  
Old 01-26-2016, 09:27 PM
wolfpup wolfpup is offline
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Maher is an asshole and he's funny. They're not mutually exclusive.
No, they're not necessarily mutually exclusive. But as already discussed, we have different prevailing views on whether or not he's an asshole. Millions of people disagree. Perhaps you'd like to share your conclusive evidence to support your contention that he is one.
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The panel's mix of lefty libs and fundamentalist pubs leads to some top tier cringe comedy, which makes some people uncomfortable.
Which of this first group I listed here would qualify as "lefty libs and fundamentalist pubs"? Or is it possible that you really never watch the show or just don't know what you're talking about?
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Originally Posted by marshmallow View Post
It's funny when there's an establishment guy there who has a reputation to uphold and everyone is making racial and sex jokes and being edgy as hell and they're sweating bullets thinking what the hell did I get myself into.
That must be one hell of a brilliant "establishment guy" who agreed to come on a major network show that was broadcast live internationally and yet had absolutely no idea what the show was about!
Quote:
Originally Posted by marshmallow View Post
Never watch a show like this to be informed.
Considering the "informed" opinions you've just bestowed, maybe you should watch the show!

For instance, I mentioned at another time about Rick Santorum appearing on Real Time and spouting complete bullshit about climate change. This was a one-on-one and Maher, as a non-scientist, and doing a live show, was in no position to refute the details of the crap that the denialist crowd had stuffed into Santorum's little brain except to say that he highly doubted the veracity of something that contradicted the basic findings of climate science. I explained in the cited link why it was bullshit. But here's the zinger: I was really impressed, as I noted here, that Maher and his staff didn't just let it slide and they did their research, and in the very next show Maher made a point of setting the record straight and exposing Santorum's mendacity, explaining exactly why Santorum had been wrong and deceptive, pretty much in the exact terms I had just described.

Of course, the vast majority of the time, the debate is on political and not scientific issues, between equally well-informed participants, and so one learns a lot from the conversational exchange. This is really the heart and soul of what Real Time is all about.

So yeah, if you want to be informed, watch the show.

Last edited by wolfpup; 01-26-2016 at 09:32 PM.
  #22  
Old 01-26-2016, 09:46 PM
John Mace John Mace is offline
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He has a slew of very high quality guests as his initial interview. Al Gore, Jane Goodall, Bob Gates, Sister Helen Prejean (anti-death penalty nun), etc. You can actually learn a lot and be entertained at the same time.
  #23  
Old 01-27-2016, 02:11 AM
Red Barchetta Red Barchetta is offline
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Originally Posted by marshmallow View Post
Oliver has about four jokes:

1. Mention a stat or a fact. How bad is it? Explain it with a random analogy. The quirkier, the more pop culture references, the better.

2. Yelling at an imaginary person like they're a dog or a small child. Bad Trump! No cookies! You're ruining it for everyone else!

3. Point out how someone looks like someone else.

4. Mislabeling maps or showing the wrong infographic. I'll admit to still laughing at the map thing, though.
You know, I used to love (and still enjoy) last week tonight. But as soon as I noticed the template they used, the show did seem to lessen for me. They really do just reuse the same style of jokes ad nauseam

Last edited by Red Barchetta; 01-27-2016 at 02:11 AM.
  #24  
Old 01-27-2016, 04:25 AM
adaher adaher is offline
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I think the show is great, regardless of what I said about Maher's oddball antics in the other thread. I think too many people expect the show to be serious since it has some true experts and statesmen on the panels, but the discussions often get unserious pretty quickly because Maher usually takes them in directions where they are on less firm ground. But I don't expect TV shows to be perfectly informative. I just treat Real Time as like the View: regular folks, sometimes famous, sometimes very, very smart and informed, just sitting around and shooting the breeze about the issues of the day.
  #25  
Old 01-27-2016, 04:36 AM
Bridget Burke Bridget Burke is offline
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I don't have HBO so I've rarely seen Bill Maher. Don't miss him, although I generally agree with him. One show I remember featured Gene Simmons from Kiss & some unfamiliar young Republican. The Vietnam war came up; Maher & Young Republican both lamented that they'd been too young to participate. Simmons explained that he & his bandmates had wanted to fight, but they were in college. Yeah, right. Others managed to fit college & a tour of duty into their lives--more used college to avoid the draft. (And I don't blame them. Vietnam was Not Our Fathers' War.) Maher let him get away with it.

A recent episode of Finding Your Roots explored The Irish Factor: Bill Maher, Bill O'Reilly & Soledad O'Brien. The host played the Bills a bit. O'Reilly exclaimed how his "Irishness" made his family tough, no complaint folks; Gossett went into the Great Famine & almost had him in tears. Then he showed Maher some family information recorded by a priest; much Irish data was lost during the Civil War when the archives burned. Maher almost said one good thing about that priest but stopped.

The show did some genetic testing--finding markers that indicated two guests shared a common ancestor within the last 500 years. Yup, Maher & O'Reilly. (Soledad O'Brien had a link to a former guest--Stephen Colbert.)
  #26  
Old 01-27-2016, 12:55 PM
mr. jp mr. jp is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by marshmallow View Post
Oliver has about four jokes:

1. Mention a stat or a fact. How bad is it? Explain it with a random analogy. The quirkier, the more pop culture references, the better.

2. Yelling at an imaginary person like they're a dog or a small child. Bad Trump! No cookies! You're ruining it for everyone else!

3. Point out how someone looks like someone else.

4. Mislabeling maps or showing the wrong infographic. I'll admit to still laughing at the map thing, though.
This is really accurate.
  #27  
Old 01-27-2016, 10:47 PM
Bryan Ekers Bryan Ekers is offline
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I most often don't disagree with him. He's just kind of an annoying dick.
I'm along those lines myself. He has a point now and then, but he undercuts himself by not putting enough wit in his humour, so he strikes me as being a jerk. Jon Stewart had the right balance - he could talk about a subject that he found clearly outrageous but in a way that was clever, meaning I could chuckle along with him in what felt like shared intellect rather than the "Fuck yeah, you said it, Bill!" chest-beating reaction Maher is trying to cultivate.

Or so is my impression, anyway. I'll cheerfully admit not having watching Maher enough to have fully gauged his charms.
  #28  
Old 01-27-2016, 10:59 PM
HowSoonIsThen HowSoonIsThen is offline
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Originally Posted by Bryan Ekers View Post
I'm along those lines myself. He has a point now and then, but he undercuts himself by not putting enough wit in his humour, so he strikes me as being a jerk. Jon Stewart had the right balance - he could talk about a subject that he found clearly outrageous but in a way that was clever, meaning I could chuckle along with him in what felt like shared intellect rather than the "Fuck yeah, you said it, Bill!" chest-beating reaction Maher is trying to cultivate
Yeah, that's the problem. Bill's humour only really works if you already agree with him. And when he's not bitching about Muslims (or other religions) or going on some weird anti vaxxer rant, I usually do agree with him. But when I laugh it's, like you say, a more "damn straight" than a "ha, that was a good joke" laugh.
  #29  
Old 01-28-2016, 12:41 AM
Boyo Jim Boyo Jim is offline
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Mahar is most annoying when he thinks his audience isn't properly appreciating his lines, and he sometimes approaches heckling them.
  #30  
Old 01-28-2016, 12:41 AM
Dajn Dajn is offline
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Originally Posted by SaharaTea View Post
I hate his standup, but I enjoy the rest of the show. I agree he can be obnoxious about religious people. But given the enormous amount of religious hypocrisy in our country, and the fact that atheism is still a huge obstacle for anyone running for public office, I don't blame him for harping on the subject.

Maher recently started a petition to get President Obama on the show before his term ends. He's never been on, which is strange considering he's been on just about every other show. I wonder if it's something personal. With a few exceptions, Maher has good things to say about his presidency.
Maher loves the president. The reason Obama will not go on real time with bill Maher is because of what Maher has said about muslims. It's sad really. Bill Maher deserves to have the president on his show.
  #31  
Old 01-28-2016, 01:15 AM
Johnny Angel Johnny Angel is offline
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Bill Maher is pro-science when it comes to climate. He is anti-science when it comes to health and nutrition. Long ago, I recall him being perilously close to what we would now style an HIV-truther. He was skeptical that HIV caused AIDS. He has backed away from that edge, though he continued to repeat his opinion that disease is caused by unhealthiness of the body due to poor nutrition, and not by pathogens. He has not repeated that claim in some years, but he did shift into an occasional polemic against what he sees as a conspiracy to push an ineffective flue vaccine. I don't recall him ever actually claiming that vaccines cause autism, but he is an enabler of those who do. He occasionally bitches about Western Medicine, extolling the virtues of the unscientific Traditional Chinese Medicine. He is apparently under the care of a naturopath.

He accounts for this duality, claiming that people should listen to the people who know what they're talking about on climate change, but that he dismisses scientists who know what they're talking about on health issues because he says climate science is much more certain and medicine has a lot of unknowns. This really grates on me, because his reason for supporting some science is markedly anti-science. That is, scientists do a lot of careful work to define how much they can actually know with certainty precisely because they can't make sufficiently good claims about what belongs in these areas of uncertainty. It is not therefore a magical fairy land where all your fantasies might be true. If you're pro-science you accept that scientists have good reasons for not having larded these blind spots with all kinds of claims, however fun it might be to believe in chi-energy or magnetic wristbands or other such flummery.

Neil DeGrasse Tyson is a frequent guest on Maher's show, but they never talk about the quackery that Maher supports, so Maher doesn't get called on this particular bullshit. He brings on guests that will argue with him politically all the time, but I've never seen him bring in a guest who will call bullshit on his health and nutrition beliefs.
  #32  
Old 01-28-2016, 04:28 AM
mr. jp mr. jp is offline
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I would like a cite for these allegations. The only thing I have heard him say, is express scepticism about flu vaccines, and about the amount of healthcare people receive in general.

FWIW I work in healthcare, and it is a widespread opinion that people get too many tests and use too much medicine. Which sounds like Maher is saying.

Last edited by mr. jp; 01-28-2016 at 04:29 AM.
  #33  
Old 01-28-2016, 06:07 AM
Bryan Ekers Bryan Ekers is offline
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Originally Posted by Johnny Angel View Post
but he did shift into an occasional polemic against what he sees as a conspiracy to push an ineffective flue vaccine
Hey, he's just trying to protect gullible chimney sweeps. Give him a break.
  #34  
Old 01-28-2016, 06:21 AM
Gyrate Gyrate is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by marshmallow View Post
Oliver has about four jokes:

1. Mention a stat or a fact. How bad is it? Explain it with a random analogy. The quirkier, the more pop culture references, the better.

2. Yelling at an imaginary person like they're a dog or a small child. Bad Trump! No cookies! You're ruining it for everyone else!

3. Point out how someone looks like someone else.

4. Mislabeling maps or showing the wrong infographic. I'll admit to still laughing at the map thing, though.
And Now This: A Rebuttal from Janice in Accounting.

Seriously though, the best part of Oliver's show is the investigative piece. There are plenty of people riffing on current events; it's when there's some serious substance underlying the jokes that they work best.

On Maher: I'm in the "he's a funny asshole" camp. For a long time I watched because the panel discussions were good and he had the occasional good joke but eventually the assholery outgrew the good parts of the show and I gave up.
  #35  
Old 02-03-2016, 07:42 AM
Jackmannii Jackmannii is offline
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Originally Posted by Johnny Angel View Post
He is anti-science when it comes to health and nutrition. Long ago, I recall him being perilously close to what we would now style an HIV-truther. He was skeptical that HIV caused AIDS. He has backed away from that edge, though he continued to repeat his opinion that disease is caused by unhealthiness of the body due to poor nutrition, and not by pathogens.[/URL].
Maher is back into HIV/AIDS and cancer quackery, credulously embracing a loon who charges people millions of dollars for "cures" founded on stuff like drinking goat milk.

http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/20...aids-quackery/
  #36  
Old 02-03-2016, 08:09 AM
mr. jp mr. jp is offline
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That didn't come at a good time for my half-hearted Maher defence.
  #37  
Old 02-03-2016, 11:05 AM
ISiddiqui ISiddiqui is offline
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Originally Posted by adaher View Post
I think too many people expect the show to be serious since it has some true experts and statesmen on the panels, but the discussions often get unserious pretty quickly because Maher usually takes them in directions where they are on less firm ground.
That is one of my biggest problems with Real Time (I found this was far less pronounced on Politically Incorrect) - the conversation starts getting really interesting, and then Maher decides to do a silly tangent and all of a sudden the conversation moves from interesting to talking about Maher's silly statement.
  #38  
Old 02-03-2016, 12:26 PM
Sampiro Sampiro is offline
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In addition to his nuttery on vaccines he's a PETA supporter and a friend of Ann Coulter.

I think he's a narcissistic dickhead who lacks the talent or empathy of equally but differently obnoxious Howard Stern. (Stern somehow has a soul even underneath the dickery.) I want to slap his smarmy face when he breaks off a very interesting conversation to go into the usually painfully unfunny New Rules.

That said, I never miss his show and he's made me research some things. (Too busy this week to look into it but I'm wanting to research Dr. Samir Chachoua- the doctor from last week who claims to have injected himself with Sheen's blood.)

I far prefer (in order of most to least) John Oliver, Trevor Noah, and Larry Wilmore to him. While I think Noah is charming and intelligent and doing well in a show that is technically but isn't really The Daily Show, Oliver is the only who fills any of the void left by Jon Stewart.

Last edited by Sampiro; 02-03-2016 at 12:27 PM.
  #39  
Old 02-03-2016, 01:47 PM
Dogzilla Dogzilla is offline
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I like Bill Maher and have watched his shows for years. I'm a huge fan of Vice, which he's a producer for I think.

I think, however, on Real Time, he has shown some misogynist tendencies, although he pays lip service to feminism once in a while. I don't believe it. I think he's old-school sexist pig, but tries to be PC on camera.

But, fine, whatever, I can suck it up because often he has really great, intelligent, articulate guests from whom I learn a thing or two.

The biggest problem I have is he's a shitty discussion moderator. He allows people to talk over each other so that you can't discern any one person's point. The loudest shouter gets the most attention. Unfortunately, that's often the biggest full-of-shit windbag who knows he or she has to shout to get any attention at all. When he allows two or more panelists to just continually talk at the same time during the panel segment, I just turn it off. I can't hear or understand anything anyone is saying anyway, so I'm getting zero value out of the discussion and wander off to find a movie or something. Anything that doesn't have that cacophony of assholes screaming over each other. I hate that.
  #40  
Old 02-03-2016, 01:59 PM
QuickSilver QuickSilver is offline
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I'm a fan of Bill.

Though not a fan of his endorsement of quackery.

I wish he'd knock it the hell off, or at least keep that stupidity to himself.
  #41  
Old 02-03-2016, 02:36 PM
Johnny Angel Johnny Angel is offline
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Originally Posted by Jackmannii View Post
Maher is back into HIV/AIDS and cancer quackery, credulously embracing a loon who charges people millions of dollars for "cures" founded on stuff like drinking goat milk.

http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/20...aids-quackery/
I saw that guy, had never heard of him, and didn't pay a lot of attention. But it sounded like pure quackadoodle. I didn't realize is was more HIV quackadoodle. What I remember about him was that he insisted on a view of science that I try to disabuse people of. That is, he claims that it's nonsense that science functions by gradually developing consensus through the hard toil of millions of scientists working at away at a problem. No, according to this guy, science really only advances when individual geniuses such as himself have huge leaps in understanding. This is of course the same romantic notion of science that climate-change deniers and creationists rely on to insist that their claims are just as weighty as any amount of contrary professional opinion.

Looks like Salon is also calling attention to this jobbo.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sampiro View Post
In addition to his nuttery on vaccines he's a PETA supporter and a friend of Ann Coulter.

I think he's a narcissistic dickhead who lacks the talent or empathy of equally but differently obnoxious Howard Stern.
I think his biggest fans probably also consider him a narcissistic dickhead. It used to be that I would watch him and think, "So why are you a liberal, since you clearly despise people?" Lately, he hasn't been nearly so strident at sneering down at the very people liberal causes are supposed to defend.
  #42  
Old 02-04-2016, 01:53 AM
Cyberhwk Cyberhwk is offline
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Originally Posted by Sampiro View Post
In addition to his nuttery on vaccines he's a PETA supporter and a friend of Ann Coulter.
Was a good friend to Andrew Breitbart too IIRC.
  #43  
Old 02-04-2016, 10:22 AM
Sampiro Sampiro is offline
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Charlie Sheen responds to the doctor (who is not licensed to practice in the US) Maher interviewed on last Friday's episode: Calls him a liar.

Last edited by Sampiro; 02-04-2016 at 10:22 AM.
  #44  
Old 02-04-2016, 10:43 AM
ISiddiqui ISiddiqui is offline
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The biggest problem I have is he's a shitty discussion moderator.
Is it just me, or was he a better discussion moderator on Politically Incorrect? Maybe it was just having that extra panel discussion person that made him better at that job.
  #45  
Old 02-05-2016, 05:26 PM
Sampiro Sampiro is offline
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Is it just me, or was he a better discussion moderator on Politically Incorrect? Maybe it was just having that extra panel discussion person that made him better at that job.
I think 20 years on he's just a lot richer and more full of himself.
  #46  
Old 02-25-2016, 12:16 AM
wolfpup wolfpup is offline
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I thought about starting a separate thread on "the petition" but since it was previously discussed here I'll just throw it in here as an update.

For those who don't know, on the first show of the new season in January, Maher was lamenting the fact that President Obama has seemingly been on every TV show in existence except Real Time (including, I might add, Seinfeld's webcast Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee where Seinfeld asked Obama momentous questions like the color of his underwear and who sets out his suits in the morning). So he asked his audience to sign an online White House petition to have Obama come on his show. It reached the requisite 100,000 signatures requiring a response within a day or two (would have been sooner but apparently the traffic crashed the system) and then went to over 320K.

So after a little more than a month, there's an official White House response. You can read it here. It's actually very well written. It was rather suspiciously complimentary, though, in a way that sounded like the brush-off. It seemed to be saying "Everyone here loves you, Bill, but we make the decisions about where the president appears." It wasn't a "no", it was more like a Japanese no -- i.e.- "we will give it most respectful consideration, Billy-san. Have a nice day and sayonara!"
  #47  
Old 02-25-2016, 01:24 AM
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A while back, I was really struck by a TED Talk by Jonathan Haidt, called The moral roots of liberals and conservatives. [Video | Transcript] One "ah-ha" moment I had was that one of the foundations of our morality is based on purity
Quote:
The fifth foundation is purity/sanctity. This painting is called "The Allegory Of Chastity," but purity's not just about suppressing female sexuality. It's about any kind of ideology, any kind of idea that tells you that you can attain virtue by controlling what you do with your body, by controlling what you put into your body. And while the political right may moralize sex much more, the political left is really doing a lot of it with food. Food is becoming extremely moralized nowadays, and a lot of it is ideas about purity, about what you're willing to touch, or put into your body.
With this in mind, the root of Maher's obsession with organic foods, pharmaceuticals, etc. (one that is particularly common in LA celebrity circles, which he is always sucking up to) starts to be easier to trace.

Whatever his virtues are, I find Maher an example of taking several tenets that I share, but pursuing them to such an extreme degree, sometimes with a considerable degree of venom, he becomes a self-parody. For me, he's turning into a cautionary tale.
  #48  
Old 02-25-2016, 04:01 AM
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And if you hate the TED site's player or can't get it to work, here's the (official) YouTube version.

(There's another one in 240p that is a bit longer. But I'll leave you to Google that one yourselves if you need it.)
  #49  
Old 02-25-2016, 06:19 PM
wolfpup wolfpup is offline
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Originally Posted by B. Serum View Post
A while back, I was really struck by a TED Talk by Jonathan Haidt, called The moral roots of liberals and conservatives. [Video | Transcript] One "ah-ha" moment I had was that one of the foundations of our morality is based on purity

With this in mind, the root of Maher's obsession with organic foods, pharmaceuticals, etc. (one that is particularly common in LA celebrity circles, which he is always sucking up to) starts to be easier to trace.

Whatever his virtues are, I find Maher an example of taking several tenets that I share, but pursuing them to such an extreme degree, sometimes with a considerable degree of venom, he becomes a self-parody. For me, he's turning into a cautionary tale.
I understand your reasoning and I see some basis for it, but I think the "purity" meme is quite a stretch. Sure, Maher likes spreading his organic multigrain bread with organic goat-milk butter, but so does everyone in the upper echelons of LA society. I don't think Maher is "sucking up" to those circles, I think he's in them. He's certainly not sucking up to A-lister Ben Affleck. And I don't think he's "obsessed" by any of this stuff. He likes California sunshine, good food, good living, and organic produce. Good for him.

If Maher is so anti-pharma and obsessed by bodily purity, it's hard to explain why he's basically a dope fiend, to use an antiquated but colorful term. He's been pushing the marijuana agenda since long before it went mainstream. In a recent episode of Real Time, he and a number of his guests lit up on live TV -- that had to be an HBO first!

I think his anti-Muslim thing is driven by his general anti-religion sentiment and is actually a bit more nuanced than many might believe, directed at the beliefs, not the people. And I think much of the anti-vax associations really stem from his skepticism about the flu vaccine which, let's face it, is not very effective in some flu seasons.

There are factually supportable negative things one can say about Maher. I don't mean his cynical and sarcastic personality which offends some people and which I personally love, I mean the fact that when your whole persona and the thrust of your TV show is to be provocative and leading-edge, you're bound to get some things wrong. It doesn't happen often, but two examples that come to mind are a special guest he had on last year and one this year for the one-on-one before the panel segment. Last year was Robert F. Kennedy Jr. who went on about his crackpot theory of thimerosal in vaccines causing autism. This year it was an appearance by Sam Chachoua, who AFAICT is a complete fraud claiming to have a "cure" both for AIDS and many forms of cancer, and many of whose claims are demonstrably false.

But my point is that this is not typical. The vast majority of these one-on-one guests are respected, accomplished individuals, often leaders in their academic fields, senior members of government, or other noteworthy contributors to the public good. His panelists always have informed and thoughtful observations even if they're often on the opposite side of the political spectrum. It makes for great TV and that's why Real Time has had such a long string of Emmy nominations.

To quote from the above-cited White House response to Bill Maher's invitation to President Obama to appear on his show:
Plenty of us around here watch Real Time because we admire Bill's passion for spreading the science on climate change, asking tough questions about money in politics, and trying to burst "the bubble" where some of our politicians -- and too many of our nation's critical political debates -- exist.
And that's very true.
  #50  
Old 02-25-2016, 06:29 PM
Count Blucher Count Blucher is offline
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I Like the show.

I think its funny as Hell (or a Trump Presidency, whichever comes first).
I watch it weekly. I'd love to see it made or even sit in the audience, but I'd be worried I'd laugh for too long or too loudly. Worse, what if I met him? What if I opened my mouth, actually spoke, and he actually laughed?

I mean if he didn't, well thats easy... he'd just flick lit joints at me while I ducked behind folding chairs... but what if he laughed?

That pot would have to be some Really Good Shit, huh...?
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