Dead Men Left

Saturday, December 04, 2004

The revolution will not be televised: The West Wing is festering lump of warmed-over tripe

(With apologies to H.)

It's come to a pretty poor state of affairs when the sharpest political writing to be found on a regular basis in the weekend papers is confined the Saturday Guardian listings magazine. Whole weekends' worth of liberalamatic hack journalism can go by without a single original or dangerous thought apparently bothering the teetering pile of newsprint and deceased conifers you stagger back from the newsagent's with. As the Charlie Brooker Affair demonstrated, even the minimal amount of space left to minimally subversive writing is under threat. How glad I was, then, to find this assesment of US liberalism buried away in an otherwise slightly predictable feature letting the critics take pot-shots at cultural icons:

The West Wing
The West Wing proceeds from the premise that eminences grises, yes-men, toadies, flunkies, nerds and wonks can mesmerise a TV audience so long as they keep walking down long corridors, zipping in and out of shots, and mouthing the latest politically correct banalities. Yes, Minister without the humour, the subversiveness or Nigel Hawthorne, The West Wing exists in a parallel universe in which Martin Sheen is not a bloated ham and big-screen has-been, but the "authentic" voice of high-minded American liberalism. Ceaselessly praised for its fine writing, The West Wing is in fact a weekly recycling of the cliches du jour proceeding from Los Angeles, New York and Washington: health care good, Republicans bad; peace good, war bad; Democrats good, Republicans bad. Republicans may in fact be very bad people but at least they are not smug and pious about it. The West Wing is television for people who think they're better than everyone else; if you want to know why Kerry lost, tune in to this sanctimonious blather next week.
Joe Queenan

(Jacques Perretti, dissing the appalling Strokes, is also worth a read. Hurrah for Jacques Perretti.)