I didn’t know if we’d top “selling guns to children,” but a couple of segments this week make a good case for it– and naturally, one of them once again features Col. Erran Morad. Morad is so perfect for this show because he flips that switch in Republican politicians where their critical thinking shuts down for lobbyists thanks to his two pet issues– guns and Israel.
In his first segment, he does just that with Georgia State House Rep. Jason Spencer, already previously in the news for issuing threats at a fellow state representative (a black woman) over Confederate monuments. During the segment, Col. Morad manages to get Spencer to:
- admit his “anti-masking legislation” is actually a burka ban, “but to win in the courts in this country, you have to get around the first amendment”;
- use a selfie stick to take up-burka photos while doing an impression of a Chinese tourist that includes “Red Dragon,” “konnichi-wa,” “sushi,” and “Ho Chi Minh City”;
- shout the N-word at full volume to indicate a terrorist attack;
- and thrust his bare buttocks at Col. Morad while warning that touching them will turn him homosexual.
I don’t even know how I add comment to that; it’s every bit as ridiculous as it sounds. The ease with which Who Is America? gets people to do truly asinine things, even by comparison with The Ali G Show, suggests the degree to which America has descended into farce.
The second segment is lighter and sillier– we get a new character, as we’re introduced with subtitled narration (which I presume is supposed to be Italian, not speaking it myself) to Gio Monaldo, “billionaire playboy and fashion photographer from Milan” and host of La Vita Diamante mit Gio (“The Diamond Life with Gio.”) The mark this segment is Corrine Olympios from some season or other of The Bachelor, a show I’m not at all versed in. She seems pretty vapid and more blandly agreeable than anything else. Gio introduces her to his charity which does work in Africa, getting her to partake in a pretty silly photo shoot where she wears a hazmat suit and gets flirtatious with the camera so she can be Photoshopped into a scene of doing Ebola-related charity work.
He then leads her on in an interview segment about her charity work, before dropping in an anecdote about a Sierra Leone warlord recognizing her and expecting her to improvise. None of it is particularly biting so much as goofy. (This is another one of those segments I saw someone suggest was “punching down,” which seems like a good time to remind readers that anyone who gets famous from appearing on a reality show is certainly in the 1%.)
In the third segment, we get the return of Dr. Billy Wayne Ruddick, Ph.D, and Truthbrary, interviewing Ted Koppel about fake news. Koppel runs out of patience with this pretty quickly, and it’s not hard to see why, given that the segment is essentially just Ruddick insisting on ludicrously untrue things and Koppel being unwilling to humor him. (It is pretty funny that Ruddick tries to pass off a photo of Trump’s inauguration as genuine when it has a giant clock reading “11:56 p.m.” in broad daylight.) I’m not surprised Ruddick has drawn these kinds of reactions so far; given the people he’s parodying (InfoWars, basically), and whom he’s trying to confront, most of these are going to be (somewhat more polite) variations of “You people have, like, worms in your brains, honestly.”
Infowars took this down lol so just gonna leave this here pic.twitter.com/erBolHnNRz
— dasha (@nobody_stop_me) May 2, 2018
Col. Morad comes back for another segment, Kill or Be Killed, which is one that feels closest to a classic Ali G interview. Former vice president / walking lizard-cyborg / human embodiment of evil Dick Cheney is the guest. SBC doesn’t get anything particularly new out of Cheney here, I suppose, although a few moments are quite telling. Cheney corrects him on the use of “torture;” “We don’t call it torture. We call it enhanced interrogation.” Morad says his cousin is in prison for murder, “or as we call it, enhanced tickling. But even if you call it enhanced tickling, it’s still murder. The same thing.” “Yeah.”
Also telling: Cheney’s laugh when Morad says he waterboarded his wife when he thought she was cheating on him.
But most of all, I just noticed the actual joy he seemed to take in his foreign policy escapades, reminiscing on the first Gulf War like old college buddies might talk about “the best time of our lives.” Cheney seemed particularly fond of the technology America was able to deploy for the first time in that war; after all, what are the lives of some foreigners with brown skin in the face of the U.S. Department of Defense’s desire to see what its cool new toys can do?
Cohen lets Morad get a few really good lines in here, too. He asks Cheney that if the U.S. hadn’t invaded Iraq, “Do you think it would’ve been a terrorist breeding ground and unstable?” which is of course what it is now. Morad also mentions he’s killed terrorists, but Cheney is “the king” of killing terrorists: “You killed about 100,000 actual terrorists and 700,000 potential terrorists.” “Potential terrorists,” of course, being a convenient euphemism for “civilians.” (Well, not so convenient for the potential terrorists.)
Cohen also goes for some “dick” puns that mostly go over Cheney’s head, and, as the show previews depicted, gets Cheney to autograph his waterboarding kit, which is macabre enough without needing elaboration.
Calling back to the second segment, we get the finished charity video Corinne Olympos films, a bit of nonsense in the vein of Brass Eye where she’s Sally Struthers telling you how you can feed the children for just pennies a day– except the charity’s mission is to properly arm child soldiers (so, as with last week’s similar video, we’re once again arming children). The video contains a few bonkers lines, among which are “Many are not effective fighters at all and are more child than soldier,” “Act now, and you’ll get a handmade drawing of how that child used your gift,” and from a child’s point of view, “Today we burned down a village and launched a grenade at a hospital.”
The last segment is a return of Heal the Divide and Nira Cain N’Degeocello. Here he travels to Kingman, AZ (ominously introduced as “Timothy McVeigh’s hometown”) where he holds a town hall to announce plans for a vast new public works project. The attendees seem on board with a $385 million outside investment into their town… until they learn it’s for a state-of-the-art mosque.
This segment perhaps more than any really illustrates the titular question of the series. Compare it to Da Ali G Show’s infamous segment with Borat as a country singer and his performance of “In My Country There Is Problem.” There, at least, the racism inherent in the song made the people uncomfortable at first, until they realized none of the people around them were particularly disturbed by it, and began to join in happily. Here, the racism is overt almost from the get-go, with the crowd turning angry at the suggestion of a mosque and of Muslim tourists coming to town. One attendee says, “If you bring in Muslims, we might have a problem. We probably will have a problem.”
When asked about anti-terror measures, Nira explains that the mosque will be secure from threats from racists. He’s quick to correct himself: “I didn’t say anyone here was racist…” but then someone in the crowd happily volunteers, “I am! I’m racist towards Muslims.”
Someone else adds “This town is lucky to have black people in it.” Nira agrees and waxes on about what a great part of the community they are, while the attendees continue to try to interrupt, before one of them finally gets across, “He’s saying there are black people in Kingman that aren’t welcome here, either, but we tolerate them.”
And after Nira tries to sing them a South African song to calm everyone down, the same man says “I understand exactly why there was to be no weapons here.”
Ain’t that America.
- Comrade Idran pointed out last week that Kurt Metzger was on the writing staff for this show, and after doing my due diligence, even as someone who thinks comedians should generally get leeway if their intent is to tell a joke and it simply goes awry, it’s hard to ignore or discount Metzger’s history of ugly behavior toward women (far too much of which is not in any way a joke). Whether that is enough to prevent you from watching the show is up to you. The season is already finished filming (I’m assuming this, of course, but there’s no way a show like this couldn’t be finished before airing) and I imagine the backlash means Metzger will be unlikely to be brought aboard for another season or the next SBC project.
- In better news for the creative team, Nathan Fielder is credited as a writer and director on this show, which makes perfect sense, as one of our only other leading lights blurring reality and satire in this manner.
- I love how Col. Morad keeps correcting himself: “I was in the Mossad– I was not in the Mossad for 13 years.”
- “Picture this: You are chained to radiator with bag over head. All of a sudden, terrorists break in and kidnap you, completely ruining your birthday party.”
- Col. Morad tries to get Dick Cheney to admit he shot his friend in the face on purpose, to no avail.
- Cheney misspells Dan Quayle’s last name, going with “Q-U-A-L-E.”
- Col. Morad on the autographs on his waterboarding kit: “I got Netanyahu, Ariel Sharon… I got Demi Lovato…”
- The tag is a short video, “A message to terrorists from Rep. Jason Spencer,” where he uses an unprintable slur for Arabs and threatens to cut their dicks off. “How are you going to rape women and children without a dick?”
- Nira explains how the mosque will be funded: “It’s going to be paid for by the Saudi government, the Clinton Foundation.” “Around here, that’s even worse than the Mosque!”