Why are people so emotional and worked up about the Leno/O'Brien fiasco?

In a recent thread (and a number of previous ones) discussing the switcheroo thing with Conan O’Brien and Jay Leno’s talk shows, the discussion seems to invariably approach a level of religious zealotry and blindness, with posters vehemently supporting one of the noted talk show hosts while viciously attacking the other, and casting dispersions on fans of their target of wrath as being the very scum of the earth. Actually, in the recent thread it doesn’t approach it, it STARTS there, with a personal attack in the thread title.

Like, *what the hell? *

It’s safe to assume Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien don’t personally post here. So why are people so… weird about this?

You see this sort of bizarre brand loyalty elsewhere too, such as the bizarre Windows-Mac hatred. But with computers at least they’re important things you actually use a lot to interact with the world. Len oand O’Brien are just late night talk shows, and they’re not even actually watched by that many people, relative to prime time shows.

Why has this little controversy got people so bananas? Honest question. What are the forces at work here?

People who like comedy, resent Leno because he’s so milquetoast middle-America, so safe, so bland, so predictable, so old and so tired.

He has none of the self-aware wit or the madcap humor of Conan…

When Conan bombs with a terrible joke, he’s quick to point it out and half the fun of Conan is an improvised line based on a lousy joke. When Leno cracks a lousy joke, it’s just a lousy joke…

I miss Johnny Carson.

This is true, I like comedy and I find Leno ho-hum. But I also find Conan juvenile and not-funny. It’s because I like comedy that I’d rather watch Craig Ferguson and Jon Stewart. Those guys *are *funny.

So it must be something else.

Because Leno’s been deserving this public skewering ever since he decided to remove any and all edge from his previously genuinely funny act, at about the same time he started guest hosting the Tonight Show for Carson; has been deserving of a public drubbing ever since he let his batshit insane manager muscle the great Johnny Carson into retirement, so that Leno (and, it must be noted, NBC) could be free to rape and pillage the legacy of a once truly great, deservedly legendary show, and in the process, usurping the show’s hosting duties from the the rightful heir to Carson’s crown.

Yep. Jay Leno’s deserved all the recent shit that’s been lobbed his way, and then some.

In all fairness, I think it was decided between the network and Johnny Carson that it was TIME for him to give it up. (I don’t know if he was edged out, paid off, went willingly, or what, but he pretty much disappeared from TV after that). Johnny Carson appealed to the older viewers who were so familiar with him. Edgier, younger guests who needed exposure would have looked silly sitting there plugging their movies on Johnny Carson, new musical acts would have been out of place in the rat-packy jazzy Doc Severinsen ouevre. It was a bygone era in the last few years.

With respect to the OP, I’ve observed that phenomenon, but only in one direction: Conan supporters seem to hate Leno with a passion, but I don’t see a lot of Leno supporters bashing Conan.

I think Conan, with his pseudo-hip artificial edginess, makes people feel relevant and superior, and Leno reminds them that they are, after all, just ordinary folks like everyone else. So the one-way venom makes sense in that context. Just MHO, of course…TRM

For years, I’d heard that Leno was a class act in show biz; hardworking, respectful of everyone working in the industry. As an example, here is the first of a three-article set written and published in 1995 by Mark Evanier chronicling the eventual success of Jay Leno. He lays on the nice-guy stuff in the second article, including this interesting bit: "And then there were tales of Leno the Ethical. He was completely honest…never stole a joke, never knifed another comic. There were anecdotes of other comics — guys who’d stolen unashamedly from Jay and others — receiving unexpected counsel and assistance from him when they got into trouble or had an important audition. One night, sitting with a bunch of comedians, someone told a story of Leno lying to steal a job from someone else. When he finished, all the other comics at the table — Jay’s competitors — all said, almost in unison, “Leno would never do that.” If you’ve never been around comedians, you have no idea how incredible it is to have that kind of reputation.

(Part 3 also has an interesting hypothetical about what would have happened if NBC had forced Leno out after a short period of time for less-than-successful ratings and replaced him with Letterman…)

Anyway, Leno’s had a nice-guy image for a long time, especially when it comes to helping out fellow comedians, and I think there was a bit of genuine shock/dismay at something so seemingly out of character like the O’Brien fiasco (whether he really had much of a say or not in the matter). There’s also the lingering memory of how Leno was shabbily treated by NBC back in the day, and so people are a bit disappointed to see him in a situation where he looks like he’s doing the same thing to someone else.

The same is true about Leno and Letterman fans - Leno fans don’t care much about Dave but the Letterman fans hate Leno.

As far as Leno being bland, that is the way network TV works except for rare shows. If you want stuff that’s not mainstream you need to go to HBO or other pay channels.

Conan’s fans are younger and more vocal. In real life there is little controversy. The bottom line is Conan failed. It doesn’t matter what the reason is. In REAL LIFE, you are measured by results, not excuses.

Conan fans insist that it was Leno’s lousy 9pm show that caused Conan to fail. Even if it were true <insert major argument here> what Conan fans fail to realize is that doesn’t matter.

For example, I work for a temp agency in a factory. They get a bonus if the assembly line hits 90%. Yesterday the line failed. They were at 94% when it failed. But the machine broke and the order could not be completed that day. Did the assembly line people get their daily bonus for exceding quota? No. Was it their fault? No.

But the bottom line in every business you have to produce to get numbers. The circumstances surrounding the job don’t matter. RESULTS matter.

Conan couldn’t pull in the numbers so he was let go. This happens in real life all the time, I say “real life,” because Conan, unlike “real life” people, got rewarded with MILLIONS of dollars for not living up to expectations. While the rest of us would’ve been lucky to go on unemployment without the employer disputing the claim

It sounds a little like a sports rivalry—maybe these are people who are as serious about comedy as rabid sports fans are about their team?

Those who are serious about comedy have reasons for holding strong opinions. Try Googling something like “Why comedians dislike Jay Leno.” From one article from this past January:

Or maybe it’s a matter of, if a guy is often the last person you see before you drift off to sleep at night, you get really attached to him. You think of him almost as family, and you hate to see him get taken away from you or screwed over.
Or maybe it’s a generational thing. Earlier generations Gapped over popular music or politics; now the Xers and the Boomers are at odds over late night TV. See this previous thread and the article I linked to in its Post #14.

You want a reason as to why Conan, not to mention Letterman fans deem Leno to be on a par with the Antichrist? I’ll give you a few: Leno’s disingenuous, he evinces, on occasion after occasion, an obscene penchant for false humility (I mean, he could practically make Garth Brooks blush), and he’s an outright liar. All of which is best summed up by listening to this and this.

With due respect, you are not so much contributing anything to answering my question as you are just being an example of what I find so mysterious.

I think it is like a sports rivalry. All those people who say “Yankees Suck” are not that different from the “Leno sucks” crowd. It’s not enough to like your guy/team, you have to hate the other guy/team too.

In the previous threads, Exapno Mapcase (and possibly others but his stood out the most) would go well out of his way to say “Conan sucks! Nobody watches Conan! It’s just a bunch of internet fanboys!” It seemed over-the-top and vitriolic, and even more personal than any of the Conan fanboys in the thread.

To answer the OP, people take their forms of entertainment too personally. They allow themselves to be defined by what TV shows they like, so that any (seeming) attack on their preferred form of entertainment is seen as an attack on themselves personally. If I were to post a thread in here titled “Firefly is trite and hackneyed” I bet people would be pissed off.

This particular situation is highly unusual. It’s almost like pro wrestling, with Leno being the heel bringing in a foreign object and NBC being the idiotic easily-distracted ref. Conan seems to have gotten cheated out of his title shot after over a decade as the plucky underdog fan favorite working his way up. Yes his fans are a little too into it, but if anything is going to bring that out, it’s this bizarre set of circumstances.

My impression of that time was that Carson caught NBC flat-footed with his retirement announcement. NBC president Warren Littlefield, by all accounts was taken completely by surprise. I know that Helen Kushnick got NBC to write into Leno’s contract that he would take over as host of the Tonight Show when Carson retired, but I didn’t believe that she or Leno had an active role in causing NBC to seek Carson’s retirement.

Leno and NBC are not worried about what other comics think, they are only concerned with how well the show does with the general public. If they geared the show to appeal to comics it would not last more than a few months before getting axed.

Understood. What I was trying to do was to illustrate why those of us who have a grudge against Leno, in fact, do so. Maybe I haven’t been clear enough that that was my intent, or maybe you just missed it for, uh, whatever reason?

Casting “aspersions”, not “dispersions.”

I think people hate Leno because he is billed as (and self-promoted as) the ultimate nice guy while in reality he is as cutthroat as everybody else, if not moreso. That kind of hypocrisy usually elicits vitriol.

I mean, c’mon, the guy’s signature bit is a blatant ripoff from Howard Stern and he refuses to acknowledge it. Instead, he claims he stole it from Steve Allen. Contrast that with Letterman who openly credited Stern with the calling your mother on the air bit. Leno’s ego simply cannot admit the truth.

Leno also really bugs some people with his in-your-face boyscout-ism. Like, for example, how he never spends his Tonight Show money but instead lives only off his standup income from when he goes on the road. This is offensive in just so many ways. Not to do it, mind you; hell that might even be admirable. But openly talking about it is unseemly. It’s like bragging about how much you give to charity. Just low-rent.

And I personally find Conan O’Brien an unwatchable mess. Leno is much better. But I hate Leno with a passion. O’Brien I couldn’t care less about.

Because you’ve done none of that. All any of you have done is explain what you think he’s done wrong. You have not explained why you actually care so viscerally. You haven’t even remotely explained the grudge.

As for Ellis: there are quite a few “Hollywood nice guys” who are only nice when the cameras are rolling. And you most of you didn’t even care about Leno until the whole Conan thing started. All anyone ever mentioned before that was that he wasn’t funny, which is a merely matter of taste.

I just don’t understand why you guys (including the Team Jay people in the aforementioned thread) don’t find your own visceral hatred for a guy you’ve never met to be more disturbing than anything these guys have ever done.