Rethinking Bill Maher

Previously I wrote about the enjoyment of listening to Bill Maher’s comedy routine when he came to Cornell. Today, a couple weeks after Maher’s presence at the University I now attend, I have slightly changed my mind. No doubt he was funny, but the elitism/culture war battle is now in full force as the election comes down the stretch and Maher’s chastisement of social conservatives (who deserve to be punched around sometimes) was exactly the type of rhetoric that the right vilifies as East Coast elitism.

As Jed Bartlett always said, for a country that cherishes the value of education, elitism should be a term that is praised, not scorned. It merely means well above average. The problem is, while this is true, there are those who do use their intelligence and speak down to those who have not gone to college or elite high schools…ie: Bill Maher at Cornell and usually in general. There’s a reason why he’s funny. There’s a reason why I was laughing hysterically during many parts of his routine. And there’s truth to what he talks about. But just recently I started thinking about why I was laughing and the feelings behind it and remembered the guy sitting behind me. I could feel the obvious, intense dislike that he was expressing through his laughter, the mocking of a group of people who merely believe in something different than he. It does this culture war no good when one simply fuels a stereotype that is hated by another group. Elitism is good, how it is sometimes portrayed is the problem.

Jed Bartlett and the West Wing portrayed elitism the way it needs to be presented if the culture war started by Nixon will ever end. Bill Maher’s just the Jerry Fallwell of the “elite” left.