Monday, March 23, 2009

We Are Not Amused

Greg Gutfield, is host of Fox's "Red-Eye," an allegedly funny show. He's managed to get a lot of attention for his show by pissing off Canada. As a nation. On an official level. That takes some world-class offensiveness, folks. From CTV news:

In an interview with CTV Newsnet earlier on Monday, [Defense Minister Peter] MacKay expressed his anger over the comments and demanded an apology.

"It's crass, it's insensitive, it's in fact disgusting given the timing where Canada is just receiving back four fallen heroes here at CFB Trenton," MacKay said.

On Friday, Master Cpl. Scott Vernelli, 28, Cpl. Tyler Crooks, 24, Trooper Jack Bouthillier, 20, and Trooper Corey Joseph Hayes, 22, were killed in two separate IED blasts that injured another five soldiers.

The deaths bring the total number of Canadian soldiers killed in Afghanistan to 116.

MacKay said the Canadian government will be demanding an apology from the panel and from Fox.

The matter started with a segment that was perhaps born out of ennui regarding "Octomom" jokes or possibly a visible lack of persons with developmentally disabilities. It seized upon the fact that Canadian forces have been materially over-extended in their Afghanistan mission.

"Once their Afghan mission winds down sometime in 2011, certain members of the Canadian military are looking to take a much-deserved break. And by certain members I mean all of them," Gutfeld said.

"Meaning, the Canadian military wants to take a breather to do some yoga, paint landscapes, run on the beach in gorgeous white Capri pants."

It must be said that an apology was made. But there are apologies and there are "apologies." Greg's was of the latter sort.

Gutfeld issued an apology Monday afternoon saying, "I realize that my words may have been misunderstood. It was not my intent to disrespect the brave men, women and families of the Canadian military, and for that I apologize."

I have two questions. The first, is "How exactly could anyone possibly misunderstand your intent?"

The second is more fundamental. "How could you have ever thought that was funny?" I fail to see what's humorous about mocking soldiers for having fought hard and needing a rest, much less anyone on the single most bellicose American network suggesting that invading Canada - that "ridiculous nation" - would be a good idea.

In the four-minute segment, Gutfeld asked the other three members of his panel: "Isn't this the perfect time to invade this ridiculous country? They have no army!"

Panelist Doug Benson, a comedian, replied: "I didn't even know they were in the war. I thought that's where you go when you don't want to fight. Go chill in Canada."

Doug, I suggest you cancel any Canadian engagements for the foreseeable future. Unless you really want to try and be funny with a front row filled with uniformed veterans of Afganistan, Cyprus, Korea and WWII. I'd enjoy watching that. Your genitailia might vary.

But while the insults of a fool say more about the fool than those they are trying to offend, those words say a great deal more about those who would put such a fool on the air. Greg Gutfield could be suffering from some sort of untreated personality disorder - a sort of moral Tourette's syndrome. Perhaps he does not really know that there is a line that is labeled "funny ends here." Fox COULD be seen as exploiting a man with an unfortunate disablity for whatever ratings it brings.

When the comedy fails and feelings are hurt to the point that you make yourself and your employer object of intense diplomatic disgust, it is at best clueless to respond with a legalistic variant of "what, can't you take a joke?"
"I realize that my words may have been misunderstood. It was not my intent to disrespect the brave men, women and families of the Canadian military, and for that I apologize."
Greg, I'm sorry that you are incapable of understanding how you fucked up and embarrassed your network and your nation. You should pray someone cares enough about you to explain to you, personally and in small words, exactly where you crossed the line.

But frankly, I doubt that Fox gives a scintilla of a damn. Not when there are "male enhancement supplements" and 900 number chatline subscriptions to sell and you serve that sad, pathetic demographic so very well.

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