The 1980s were a blast for movies and one of my most whimsical childhood memories is of the silver, shimmering “HBO” flying through space. It was the early part of the decade when my family had the premium movie station installed and the thrill of getting to potentially watch Star Wars six times a day was about as much as an eight year old could handle.
Around the same time we got HBO, another significant event occurred, my dad took me to see my first rated “R” movie, the raucous, sporadically hilarious comedy, DC Cab. How or why my father deemed DC Cab to be the movie to elevate me out of ‘parental guidance’ status I may never know but I had a great time and turned out to be a pretty well-adjusted teenager so I guess there’s no reason to examine things further.
Question: So what do HBO and a movie about degenerate, goofball cab drivers have in common?
Answer: Bill Maher
That’s right. Before Mr. Bill became the hostile voice of the Home Box Office network and champion of the limousine left, he was just another under-the-radar actor/comedian trying to make it in Tinsel Town. And amazingly, in DC Cab, he actually comes across as pretty likable, playing a sort of modern, zen character who dispenses pearls of life wisdom to his cab driving buddies.
A calmer, more metaphysical Bill Maher
So who would have ever guessed that HBO and Maher would one day join forces to broadcast some of the nastiest liberalism the nation’s home viewing audience has ever seen? As a politically oblivious kid living in the dawning age of video games and Transformers, certainly not me.
For better or worse, the entertainment landscape has changed since the Reagan years. HBO has gone from being a magical window to the cinematic world to becoming another quasi liberal corporation, that like other leftist entities (The New York Times, Hollywood, any television news network not named FOX), has learned to draw a hefty amount of revenue by promoting and selling a product that spews forth a spectacular degree of anti-american ideology. The product in HBO’s case is the Emmy award-winning and painfully heavy handed, Real Time with Bill Maher. Seriously, in what other country could you make such a fortune by publicly bashing the aspects of that country which allowed you to earn said fortune?
However, what makes Real Time unique from any other left leaning program is the pathological intensity of Maher’s hateful rants towards Republicans and his blatant obsession with letting us know just how dumb he thinks Americans are (the latter most likely a sign of Maher’s own deep rooted insecurities).
And then there’s the former DC cabby’s delightful thoughts on conservative women.
Most of what Maher says about right-of-center women is too stupid to repeat on this blog. However, ever since his first late night show “Politically Incorrect” (1993-2002) hit the air, which ironically became the prelude to the disingenuously politically correct ‘Real Time’, Maher has displayed a strange contempt for the opposite sex. Back in his ‘Incorrect’ days, Maher’s jokes about women, although still pretty lame, at least came across a bit more lighthearted, like he was just trying to get under the skin of the hypersensitive, 1990s Starbucks crowd. However, once Maher performed his swan dive into Real Time’s post 9-11 sea of angry leftism, his issues with the ladies (and Republicans in general) exploded into a venomous assault which only a stunningly hypocritical liberal society could approve of.
This brings us to this past weekend’s premiere of the HBO original movie, Game Change.
While HBO’s depictions of women in mega hits such as Entourage and Sex and The City were never overly flattering, (I used to wonder if Maher secretly wrote for Entourage) they were more or less acceptable in a silly, leave your brain at the door way. By contrast, Game Change is the network’s oh-so-important presentation of Sarah Palin’s selection and bid to become the first female vice president of the United States. Does the movie portray Palin in a thoughtful, honest way? Of course not. In fact, if you didn’t know better, or just love ridiculous hatchet jobs of conservatives, you’d think (or gleefully believe) that the former Governor of Alaska was the real life equivalent of a conservative Barbie doll. An attractive, but hyper-emotional, intellectually empty political recruit with a dimwitted third grader’s grasp of the world (actually sounds like Maher’s kind of woman).
However, despite the relentless attacks, the truth is that HBO, Maher, and all the other leftist entertainment operations for that matter, love Palin. She’s served as a wonderfully photogenic punching bag for the smirking Obama crowd and is persistently unapologetic, a trait making her all the more enticing of a target.
So here’s the hidden parallel of HBO and Maher.
In HBO’s case, you have a once fledgling movie channel whose 1981 transformation into a 24 hr/7 day a week network led to its remarkable evolution into a meticulously produced, cutting edge entertainment force. And not just for movies and brilliant original programs (no, I don’t include Entourage in this) but also for sleek presentations of music concerts, big time boxing (Mike Tyson’s whirlwind, mid to late eighties run with the network was wildly epic), and comedic performances.
Unfortunately, due to the now decade long alliance with the talent devoid Maher and some other shaky programming choices, (Who in the hell green lighted George Lopez’s 2008 hate fueled “comedy” concert?) the network has transformed into a charismatic, manipulative henchman for the Left.
Likewise, but far, far down on the relevance meter, Maher, who was never meticulous or cutting edge, managed to rise from obscurity by appearing as, at least for a while, an intellectually complex, occasionally semi-witty, political gunslinger who was too cool to align himself with a single party (primarily during his Politically Incorrect days). This facade of course went down the tubes thanks to his last seven or eight years on ‘Real Time’ with the exclamation point being his recent million dollar tribute to President Obama. I’m betting HBO soon announces Maher as Hollywood’s official voice of the 2012 Barack Obama reelection campaign.
So there you have it. As unlikely as it would have once seemed, the formerly great A-list movie channel and the barely mediocre D-list actor/comedian have bonded to become a nefariously perfect fit for our entertainment times. As a lifelong movie fan I guess I shouldn’t be all that surprised. After all, there have always been bizarre, villainous alliances in cinema, and in this sad, albeit not quite cinematic story, Maher and HBO have made for one hell of a team.
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