Did you catch the latest Penn and Teller Bullshit?
If you’re not familiar with the show, each week they tackle an issue they consider to be comprised mostly of BS. It’s, to me, the number one reason to be a Showtime subscriber. (of course, there are other, very effective and up to date means of getting the show…cough..torrent..cough..usenet..cough)
For the first time, this week, I found myself at odds with their point of view. Now, it’s clear they understand this one is a tough one, but they really go for the Wal-Mart love in full effect. Sure, I’ve kind of winced at their opinions on certain things before, but I’ve always understood their point of view and drew my own conclusions without the sense that they had missed the mark. Was it because this time *I* was the mark? Not exactly. I’m one of the few atheists who “got” the south park atheist jab-isode (or poke-fun-a-thon). It didn’t offend me because I knew what they were doing. They were not degrading atheism, they were pointing out the frail, easily persuaded human psyche. Basically, sheep are sheep, no matter what they decide to take a stand for. When Garrison accepts Dawkins’ ideas on a basic, ignorant, superficial level almost as religious doctrine rather than understanding the ideas on a deeper level, he became just another believer. (God is a spaghetti monster instead of an absent, distant, aloof sky-daddy) You cannot ignore the absolute fact that there are a percentage of atheists who call themselves so simply for the instant access to sexually sophisticated, chubby goth chicks.
But I digress.
Having said they maybe hit a nerve with me, I must admit I’ve come out on the other side of this episode with a changed opinion. WalMart is evil, but maybe just as or in some cases not as evil as some small businesses in my town. Then again, with success comes a great big, red target (get it?) on your ass visible from space. It’s kind of hard to feel too sorry for them. It reminds me of people who feel bad for celebrities plagued by the press. That’s just the way fame works. Don’t like it? Fail. Go away. Get fat. Get ugly. Have sex with a producer’s wife.
Yeah, I didn’t think so.
Like Penn, I’m more of a Target guy myself. But I find it a bit disingenuous to go after all of US (your average wal mart haters) for making fun of Wal Mart’s redneck, flag waving, voting against their own interests, welfare clientele after all the “good fun” they’ve poked at the VERY SAME type of people themselves. (oh, I really should do a clip edit for proof)
However… they were spot on when it came to the associations of unions and politicians. A problem that could be fixed with public disclosure. That’s one of the problems with Democratic candidates these days, and why they’ve had problems being elected in recent history. They’ve been unwilling to be up front and maybe a bit extreme when it’s been a true representation. At least when some religious, zealous Republican runs, in most cases he or she will be completely up front about it. If you are in love with unions, let us know. Maybe we’re on your side. At least give us the chance to be. If these guys really wanted to help small business survive, they they would be harder on greedy landlords, ridiculous taxation, endless regulation, insane start-up costs and NIMBY zoning laws. But no, they go after the big, easy target instead. And as they’ve pointed out, when a town refuses Wal Mart, they just find a way to build nearby and people DRIVE to them!!
Again, having said that, the show made it seem like Wal Mart is the only business that gets refused the “right” to build a store. Try on adult book stores, head shops , tobacco shops, fast food, liquor stores, tatoo parlors, halfway houses, homeless shelters (the last 2 not being just a business particularly). In some cases, a church will move into an area just to oust one of these, on purpose when the aforementioned business was there first. Where are Penn and Teller when it comes to defending these places and their right to conduct business? Just who exactly, in the end, is attacking the easy target and defending the convenient, popular defensible evil?
Like it or not, Wal Mart is easy to defend. You wouldn’t think so based on what’s written and broadcast about them, but the fact remains that they are successful because they have millions and millions of paying customers. This means millions of people will automatically agree with you. In the end, I just think it was a bad choice for topics. I’m not saying they choose topics to win some kind of popularity contest, the opposite is true. And that’s why I love the show. But I think a show about zoning laws and ordinances in general would have been more interesting with just a segment on the demonization of Wal Mart included. Too easy, but just controversial enough to get people like me talking about why it is, after all, kind of Bullshit.
See a segment here and catch Penn and Teller’s Bullshit on Showtime, Thursdays at 10PM et/pt. (the new season just started, this was ep 2)