Monday, June 23, 2008
He should be remembered as more than a comedian...
"I don't have pet peeves—I have major psychotic fucking hatreds..."
George Carlin—many, many times.
"his biting commentary is not just the stuff of comedy, but of revelation."
Keith Olbermann—introducing Carlin as a guest in October 2007
The King of Telling It Like It Is is gone.
My first "edgy" comedian that I was obsessed with growing up. As a kid, I loved the "Seven Words" and "Stuff" routines and his other classics, but later grew to appreciate what he was really talking about—Carlin was much more than a goofball comedian, he was a cultural icon—but more importantly he was a biting cultural and social critic. Carlin told the uncomfortable truths by setting them in a context that allowed him to say things most people would be afraid to say or would be chased from the public square by villagers wielding torches and pitchforks.
And nothing appeared to give him greater pleasure (torture?) than skewering those in power or those who took themselves too seriously.
Sadly, though he amplified his critique over the last eight years when the things he had been talking about for decades really started being administered in extra-strength doses, I think the "owners" he had long railed against pushed him to the sidelines. Carlin was treated as an old kook or ignored altogether.
He'll be a footnote on the news tonite, and they'll *chuckle* over his famous "edgy language", etc. but it won't be the fucking days-long vigil granted to The Great Tim Russert, who did less for his fellow citizen in his "distinguished career" than Carlin did in one night of stand-up.
I'm curious to hear the grave-dancing from the right about the too-soon passing of this "America-hating Communist wacko," when the real truth is Carlin is the one who loved this country enough to try and wake it up and tell the truth, while everyone else is either part of dispensing the bullshit, or those willing to lap it up with their eyes closed.
So thanks for the effort George, I'm glad you could make a living at it, and we could enjoy it, because we all know that the actual practice was futile.
In tribute to George and as a perfect summation of our trip South and back this weekend, nothing could be more appropriate than this:
UPDATE: While looking up the year of Carlin's birth for my graphic, I read the big AP story on Carlin. Though they spent six paragraphs telling the story, they still were afraid to actually list "the seven words you can't say on television."
For the record: the original list—shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker and tits