Sunday, January 01, 2017

Anthony Bourdain Helps Us Ring In 2017


Although Anthony Bourdain is a legitimate chef, he’s best known— certainly outside of NYC— as the host of some notable TV series, the Travel Channel’s No Reservations and, more recently, CNN’s Parts Unknown. You can watch the recent episode of Bourdain with President Obama in Hanoi above. Bourdain seems obsessed with the smells of Vietnam. Remember, he dedicated one of his best-selling books, The Nasty Bits, to Joey, Johnny and Dee Dee. Hs loved the early punk music of NYC and has joked that playing schlocky commercial music by Elton John, Abba and Billy Joel would get you fired in his kitchen.

So… a man with those musical sensibilities probably wouldn’t surprise anyone with some forward political pronouncements. No, he’s not a Trump fan. The day after the electoral college confirmed the bad news, New Zealand writer Alexander Bisley interviewed him for Reason. Not a fan of Trump’s— nor, as you might guess, a fan of political correctness.
Bisley: What concerns you about Trump?

Bourdain: What I am not concerned about with Trump? Wherever one lives in the world right now I wouldn't feel too comfortable about the rise of authoritarianism. I think it's a global trend, and one that should be of concern to everyone.

Bisley: You're a liberal. What should liberals be critiquing their own side for?

Bourdain: There's just so much. I hate the term political correctness, the way in which speech that is found to be unpleasant or offensive is often banned from universities. Which is exactly where speech that is potentially hurtful and offensive should be heard.

The way we demonize comedians for use of language or terminology is unspeakable. Because that's exactly what comedians should be doing, offending and upsetting people, and being offensive. Comedy is there, like art, to make people uncomfortable, and challenge their views, and hopefully have a spirited yet civil argument. If you're a comedian whose bread and butter seems to be language, situations, and jokes that I find racist and offensive, I won't buy tickets to your show or watch you on TV. I will not support you. If people ask me what I think, I will say you suck, and that I think you are racist and offensive. But I'm not going to try to put you out of work. I'm not going to start a boycott, or a hashtag, looking to get you driven out of the business.

The utter contempt with which privileged Eastern liberals such as myself discuss red-state, gun-country, working-class America as ridiculous and morons and rubes is largely responsible for the upswell of rage and contempt and desire to pull down the temple that we're seeing now.

I've spent a lot of time in gun-country, God-fearing America. There are a hell of a lot of nice people out there, who are doing what everyone else in this world is trying to do: the best they can to get by, and take care of themselves and the people they love. When we deny them their basic humanity and legitimacy of their views, however different they may be than ours, when we mock them at every turn, and treat them with contempt, we do no one any good. Nothing nauseates me more than preaching to the converted. The self-congratulatory tone of the privileged left—just repeating and repeating and repeating the outrages of the opposition—this does not win hearts and minds. It doesn't change anyone's opinions. It only solidifies them, and makes things worse for all of us. We should be breaking bread with each other, and finding common ground whenever possible. I fear that is not at all what we've done.

Bisley: In your Brexit episode of Parts Unknown, Ralph Steadman, who illustrated Appetites eye-catching cover, said "I think human beings are still stupid." Does that explain Trump's election?

Bourdain: I don't think we've got the [exclusive] franchise on that. If you look around the world (in the Philippines, in England), the rise of nationalism, the fear of the Other. When people are afraid and feel that their government has failed them they do things that seem completely mad and unreasonable to those of who are perhaps under less pressure. As unhappy and surprised as I am with the outcome, I'm empathetic to the forces that push people towards what I see as an ultimately self-destructive act. Berlusconi, Putin, Duterte, the world is filled with bad choices, made in pressured times.

Bisley: A few years back you were on Real Time with Bill Maher and part of the discussion was about people living inside their own bubbles. What do you think of Bill Maher?

Bourdain: Insufferably smug. Really the worst of the smug, self-congratulatory left. I have a low opinion of him. I did not have an enjoyable experience on his show. Not a show I plan to do again. He's a classic example of the smirking, contemptuous, privileged guy who lives in a bubble. And he is in no way looking to reach outside, or even look outside, of that bubble, in an empathetic way.
And he doesn’t much care for vegetarians either.

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At 9:49 AM, Anonymous Hone said...

Well, sometimes contempt is deserved, Mr. Bourdain, although perhaps painted with a less broad brush. Should we have reached out more to Hitlerites in the 1930's and tried to change their opinions? What about the racist Supremacists who hate anyone who is not white or Christian? Can we possibly change their minds about anything? Those who adore Trump, and I do mean many of his supporters who gaze on him with adulation and chant, "lock her up," do have my contempt and I would hope, yours as well. Sorry, Mr. Bourdain. I would not waste time reaching out to them. This is no longer kumbaya time, this is political war. Sometimes calling a spade a spade is worthwhile. There are enemies out there and they are part of us and must be called out. Surely Dems playing nice have gotten us nowhere. And the ridiculous balancing act of the press of two totally non equal sides of reality did not serve us well either in this election season. AND, I have little sympathy for those who voted for Trump and brought this horror show upon us - they not see the devastating consequences of their actions and bear a lot of the responsibility.

Bill Maher, whom I agree is smug, at least speaks out in ways that are quite rare in the news, and has a critically needed approach, especially in these times. I for one am glad he is on air. Would you prefer, Mr. Bourdain, the normalizing of Trump that will be done by the mainstream media in order to appease those on the right? What about all that right wing "news"? if you are a true liberal, how about saving your criticism for these scumbags instead of Bill Maher, who at least speaks for liberals such as yourself.

At 10:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with Hone.
The D's have always approached things with a "big tent" approach to reach out to more groups.
But when they reach out to the whack jobs, delusional ( by this I mean the cultist - be they christian, muslim, followers of either zeus or Odin, mormons, sceinctologist's etc) they are inviting the irrational with baseless bigotry and inane beleifs inside thus internalizeing what should be the external debate.
i.e. A womans's right to choose. This is a fundamental human right that, within greater historical context, has rarely been questioned except in situations where the woman was in a dynastic situation ( i.e. Queens, Royalty, etc)
To even allow anti choice people (most people are pro Life in the sense they don't want to die. These people are anti choice language counts) to affect the policy discussions within the party is to subvert and disillusion those who thought that the d's were on their side when fundamental rights are concerned.
It was when FDR changed course on this and disavowed the KKK first by supporting Al Smith then in '32 convention that d's won. It was Harry Truman and the happy warrior ( Humphery -Boy mayor of Minn.) continued this by chasing strom thurmond and his bunch of knuckledraggers out of the party in '48 that they won.
When JFK made his speech about being free of religious control in '60 they won. When hillary goes and kisses the ring of a war criminal ( kissinger) they lose.
The point is not to accomadate ignorance and bigotry but to fight it. to allow apolagist's for unacceptable behavior only obscures the message but makes people wonder how a party that is willing to compromise its basic principles can be trusted.
The point is to raise them out of their swamp of delusions, ignorance and prejudices and join the post enlightment society rather then let them pine over the lost good ole days of the dark ages.

At 11:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tony lost me when he partied with Ted Nugent. I sometimes watch because CNN plays him incessantly and sometimes House Hunters International or Diners, DriveIns and Dives (much more fun and none of Tony's moralizing: "Colombia is doing so well. Look at all these happy people!") And while I am not yet a vegetarian I cetainly don't enjoy killing animals as Bourdain does. Last night he delighted in shooting a pig in the head. He loves slitting necks, shooting birds out of the skies, all of it. Maybe I'm a hypocrite but he is a sadist.

So now he says no to Trump? You can't party with Nugent and be taken seriously as anti-Trump.
But ratings are ratings so there you go. Tony joins the ranks of Trump deniers whose fans would desert them in droves if they adquiesced.

At 9:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agreement with Hone and 10:33.

The current democrap party is evil. They excused trillions in fraud and empowered the criminals with government appointments, as has drumpf. That fraud cost millions of jobs and homes and a few dozen lives. But they're just fine with it.

The Democratic Party of Truman is long gone... flushed along with all their principles of altruism and protecting the powerless from the powerful.

Whoever they "reach out to" that isn't writing them 8 figure checks will know that they are being patronized. And in the case of $hillbillary, $he barely bothered in that regard.

And, yes, reaching out to racists, misogynists, religiophiles, Nazis and other lower forms of imbeciles just makes the already useless Democraps even more useless as a political party.

At 9:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

should have been religiophobes above. sorry.


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