Bill Maher Points The Finger At Us In Friday’s ‘Real Time’ On HBO – Deadline

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The cartoon character Pogo by Walt Kelly is best remembered for his line, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”

That sentiment was the underlying theme of Bill Maher’s Real Time on Friday, as the comedian and his guests explored the various ways that America remains divided, often by our own hand.

B.J. Novak of The Office was up first. His new film comedy, Vengeance, has undertones of the social struggles that divide America. Maher played up that angle, asking about the red state/blue state divide and how it’s possible to love those who don’t share your views.

What’s separating us, Novak said, is more about emotion than the argument. He suggested that we stop “picking at the scab” of the things we disagree about, and focus on comedy, sports, art, “or sitting down over dinner. That is a start.” He added, “There is no separating. We’re stuck.”

Gatekeepers worry too much about hurting the audience with controversial points of view, Novak said. “Audiences can be trusted,” He later added, “People are worried that other people are too sensitive.”

This week’s panel discussion joined Catherine Rampell, op-ed columnist at the Washington Post and political and economic commentator for CNN, and Noah Rothman, associate editor for Commentary Magazine and author of The Rise of the New Puritans: Fighting Back Against Progressives War on Fun.

Maher posited to his panel that the left seems to be hammering on the type of things that used to be right wing bugaboos.

Rothman agreed, saying it “was the right wing for most of our lives.” But now, the left aims to “emphasize their own moral code. “

Rampell wasn’t buying it in total, noting, “We just had a vice president who could not be alone with a woman.” She said she was “more worried about original receipe than progressives.”

The people with the power to control the culture now is “not the right,” Rothman countered.

Maher claimed that it’s “not the government that’s Big Brother. It’s social media.” He added later that there’s a “quiet resentment” brewing, caused by people who are afraid to speak out in an age of cancel culture.

He broght up the recent shutdown of a Shonda Rimes production because of a word in the script. “It was like a reactor leak,” Maher said.

Such actions, Rampell said, are “currency to show they are offended.” Maher agreed. “The only permissible reaction now is overreaction.”

Rothman added that such actions are “how you communicate your zeal for the cause, contorting yourself most zealously for the cause. It gets you a lot of points…but deprives us of something enjoyable.”

In his “New Rules” editorial, Maher suggested scaling back making America great again to a more modest target: “Let’s make the mall great again.”

Online shopping, Maher contended, is “killing us psychologically.” In the Golden Age of the mall, it was referered to as “America’s Town Square.”

Not only is online shopping exacerbating loneliness and isolation, but it’s an ecological nightmare, with excessive packaging and the notion of making people chauffeur your pants all over town wasting resources.

Only 14% of packaging is recycled, Maher said. So his message to those under 30 was simple. Just because an app on the phone makes ordering easy “doesn’t make it cool.”

“It came with a cost,” Maher said, citing the child labor, fuel waste and other downsides. “I hear a lot about my generation ruined the environment,” Maher said. “I don’t think it’s my generation.”

“Go out and play,” Maher said in conclusion. “Go to the mall. Our social skills are atrophying. Amazon is in its prime, but you aren’t.”





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