Greg Gutfeld’s House of Delusions

By Amanda Marcotte
Thursday, September 8, 2011 11:48 EDT
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I can't even blog about the heavy levels of wingnuttery in the Republican debate, since right now it's a game of "what's going to piss off the liberals the most?", and that makes me profoundly sad not just for the fate of our nation but for the mental health of conservatives.  It just can't be good stewing non-stop in hate of a largely mythical "liberal elite", hate so profound that you will gladly destroy the nation just to piss them off.  One thing that's increasing my sadness about this situation is the constant stream of clips from Greg Gutfeld's Fox News show. The primary purpose of his show appears to be telling his conservative audience how much better they are than those silly liberals, but the effect is not one of feeling like they actually are better than silly liberals.  It actually causes that same feeling you get when you read some Nice Guy® on an anti-feminist forum ranting about how stupid bitches don't know what they're missing by passing him over in favor of men who shower regularly and don't wax poetic about Ayn Rand on dates.  The delusional myths that Gutfeld and his friends feed their audience tell you nothing about liberals, but are an excellent demonstration of what kind of anxieties Gutfeld thinks are fueling the folks in Wingnutia. Like this rant:

There's so much irrationality here that it's amazing.  Gutfeld denies that science has any value, but then says, "Listen to your doctor."  But your doctor knows what she knows because of science.  It's not actually the white coat.  I'm also guessing there's more to that study than he's saying, stuff that could actually negate the conclusions he's drawing.  The entire segment is dedicated to exploiting the audience's resentments of people that are smarter than them in order to argue that we should basically shut down any kind of non-corporate-funded research, i.e. bring an end to science conducted for the good of humanity instead of some corporation's bottom line. But the to get the buy-in from the audience for this argument, the strategy is to drum up resentment against others for being smarter than you and having better health habits.  Specifically, Gutfeld says, "Why are health food freaks always so sickly looking?"

Now, this comment is just sad-making.  It's supposed to be "funny", but unlike real humor, it has no grounding in reality.  Instead, it causes the non-wingnut audience to feel bad for the people laughing at this, trying desperately to convince themselves that while they get winded climbing a single staircase and they haven't lifted their hands over their heads in a decade, that it's those other people who look "sickly".  Now, it's true that there's no one-on-one correlation between being healthy and looking healthy, and of course "lookingly sickly" is a subjective statement, but this comment is just plain delusional, and in the most obvious sort of way.  Someone who laughs at this is so sad that I can't even be angry at them.  Their need to believe makes me profoundly uneasy, especially since I can see with my own eyes the evidence that the same people laughing at this joke don't really believe it.  After all, one of the reasons Sarah Palin is idolized is because she's youthful and healthy-looking—she's a runner!—and she can be paraded around as another balm for widespread insecurities.  According to Gutfeld's joke, she looks "sickly", but obviously the people out in Wingnutia don't actually think that.

Then there was this whole situation on his show:

Even within this screed, there's a contradiction.  Andrea Tantaros claims both that feminists have sex "like men", i.e. for pleasure, and that we're sexually unsatisfied because we're not getting any.  But it's an even more profoundly stupid statement if taken in the larger context of Fox News and the conservative movement.  After all, the number one priority of the Republican party after the 2010 elections was punishing "feminists" for getting some by defunding Planned Parenthood, restricting abortion out of existence, and just generally expanding the angry rhetoric around female sexuality.  Overall, the tone of the conservative movement regarding female sexuality is one of being furious at anyone else, especially anyone female, who might actually be having fun….with someone else.  "Keep your legs shut!" is the conservative mantra these days.  The concern is actually that feminists are getting some. 

This is in the same category as "health freaks look sickly".  It's a bit of self-delusion fed to a gullible audience who is consumed with jealousy and hatred and who are being instructed to channel those feelings towards "liberals", who are portrayed as an undifferientiated mass of people that are a cross between Rob Lowe's character on "Parks and Recreation" and kinksters who have completely fresh and unique sexual experiences every night.  And the instructions for sticking it to these people for thinking they're so cool is to vote Republican, because it's better to burn this country down than share it with people who make you feel so insecure.

Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
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