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Months of Meryl: THE RIVER WILD

"Great post and comments. Yes, Streep had to navigate the rough waters of being in her 40's! I do think she smashed through the glass ceiling for women since she persevered and then became an even bigger star in her 50's." - Sister Rona

"One of my favourite movies from my teen years - I'm shocked at how long ago this was released. It was Meryl that sold this movie for me and is the reason I saw it. At the time, and I still feel this way, she is the reason to watch and believe this film." -Filmboymichael

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Cinema de Gym: 'Blue Collar Comedy Tour Rides Again'

Hello, friends. Kurt here. Boy, oh boy. Where to start? In this very space, I've already been called out for snobbery for sticking it to lowbrow comedy and the people who love it, so I'm gonna try to keep the snark to a minimum. But I definitely stopped dead in my tracks when I walked into the gym this week and saw that the movie du jour was Blue Collar Comedy Tour Rides Again, the straight-to-video sequel to Blue Collar Comedy Tour: The Movie, a feature presentation of below-the-Mason-Dixon comics delivering below-the-belt jokes. My first impulse was to disregard the movie altogether, and just go with another day's title (okay, there was only one other day at the gym this week). Then, the more I thought about it, the more excited I got: this could turn out to be a whole lot of off-the-beaten-path fun, like getting a free glimpse of hell without the threat of damnation.

I exaggerate, but I'm certainly not kidding when I say that the Blue Collar quartet – Jeff Foxworthy, Ron White, Bill Engvall and Larry the Cable Guy – generally make my blood run cold. The latter is by leaps and bounds the worst offender, and his “Git-R-Done!” is, no exaggeration whatsoever, my most reviled catchphrase in the English language. That he is very much viewed as a role model in many parts says horrible, horrible things about our country (I happily missed Cars 2, thank you very much). Engvall and Foxworthy seem like nice enough guys, the former boasting the least identifiable, and therefore most benign, schtick (I couldn't even tell you what it is). Foxworthy has surely been the most successful, as he has the savvy to parlay his white-trash brand into big-time crossover appeal (how many TV shows is he hosting now?). His “You Might Be A Redneck If...” gags are Blue Collar's best because they are the most shrewdly self-effacing, at once told from the inside but also distanced from it. Many are made up, sure, but you get the sense that folks back home are regularly pissed for being anonymously exploited, while Foxworthy can always snap back with, “well, at least I made something of myself.”

But no matter how large the grain of salt with which it's taken, all of this promotes a proudly ignorant way of life that very realistically puts people like Michele Bachmann into positions of power. Don't tell me it's just comedy – it's spoon-fed blinders for pig-in-mud fools and bigots. The segment I saw, which followed a healthy string of “You Might Be a Redneck If...” fan favorites (“If your mother can tell off a state trooper without taking the Marlboro out of her mouth...”), was a lengthy bit with Ron White, whose most fascinating characteristic is that he's still alive despite never being without a cigarette or a scotch-filled tumbler. White's jokes slid from the obvious to the obscene. None were funny. Some simply poked fun at the absurdity of his agent's decision to fly him to a gig that was an easy car ride away, but most just underscored a reckless contempt for women. Commenting on recent De Beers campaigns (this film hit shelves in 2004), he observed that the diamonds are basically designed to shut women up (“Take her Breath Away,” etc.), a notion that everything about his delivery endorsed, not condemned. He also went on about boobs in bars and wanting to see every woman naked and then wanting to vomit after looking at the ugly ones.

Ron WhiteI know rudeness is White's M.O., and I know I'm just not the audience for this. But, as I said, we're dealing with some seriously unproductive stuff here, the ripple effects from which don't just linger inside some smoky, small-town Arizona venue. Worst of all was how willfully the females in the audience guffawed at White's cutting humor, conditioned to think that it comes from a place of wink-wink love, and isn't carelessly condescending. The camera kept cutting to jolly ladies bursting out in giggles, and even the woman on the elliptical beside me laughed hard at the De Beers cracks. Wake up, ladies! Don't better yourself at the gym only to give your thumbs up to entertainment that craps all over your gender! Don't laugh at Ron White, whose closing joke invited roars of applause for exalting Texas death penalty laws! Be better than Blue Collar!


1. If the Blue Collar guys were to be ranked in order of tolerability, it would go like so: Jeff Foxworthy, Bill Engvall, Ron White, Larry the Cable Guy.
2. This post ain't gonna get me any friends in the Bible Belt.
3. If you walk into a gym and recoil at the sight of a marquee that reads, Blue Collar Comedy Tour Rides Again, you might be a film snob.

Can I get an “Amen” in here?


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Reader Comments (8)

this sort of thing makes me lose my faith in humanity ;)

August 12, 2011 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

"...the ripple effects from which don't just linger inside some smoky, small-town Arizona venue..."

Smoky? We don't have smoky venues, they're illegal. (And many of the small towns in this state tend to be more on the liberal side of things, not so much the audience for these guys.)

"Worst of all was how willfully the females in the audience guffawed at White's cutting humor, conditioned to think that it comes from a place of wink-wink love, and isn't carelessly condescending."

Oy, that kind of thing really is killer. I wish I understood it better. Could be just plain stupidity, or maybe that's too simple and dismissive an answer. Maybe it's a coping thing, women convincing themselves that men who disdain them really don't, because it's easier than feeling hated?

August 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJessica

I'm so grateful to be a native Californian.

August 12, 2011 | Unregistered Commenter/3rtfu11

Jessica -- Apparently Ron White gets a pass for smoking. He was smoking up a storm, and he did say they were in Flagstaff.

August 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKurtis O

Flagstaff is a small town? I guess everywhere but Phoenix in Arizona is a small town, lol.

August 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJessica

Since so much of comedy comes from a place of playing on truth, I've always suspected that what you find funny is inherently tied with what you see as truth in the world.

Good comedians are able to reveal things you didn't even realize. But bad one's play off of "truths" that are little more than the stereotypes of beer commercials: Guys are big dumb brutes who like sex. Women are nebbish, nagging prudes or dumb blondes. These are things people believe because they're constantly told them reinforced over and over, not because they're true.

But then the tail wags the dog, and people have an excuse to live up to these stereotypes. Behavior (especially in the case of women tolerating men) is tolerated or expected. People who see the world in one dimension propagate themselves in one dimension. Someone needs to shout at them "Dammit, you are the real thing! TV is the illusion!"

Or maybe I'm just reading too much into it. Maybe "guys wanna see boobs" is just a stupid observation.

August 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRobert

I don't think you're reading too much. Though I don't know if I believe that people laugh at this kind of comedy because they really find it funny. I could be way off base, but I think it's not so much a comedian being funny, and people sincerely laughing, as it is the playing out of a ritual. Where the 'jokes' are the establishment of how we are to see the world, and the laughter is a way of saying 'Yes, yes, we will willingly reinforce that!'

August 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJessica

Kurt - I'm from North Carolina, and I'm proud to call you my friend :) I hail from a small town where ignorance is a badge of honor, and I don't find any of the "blue collar comedy" humorous in the slightest. Ugh, it kills me to know that Larry the Cable Guy gets paid thousands, maybe millions of dollars to be an offensive imbecile. Even Dane Cook is funnier than him.

August 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJason H.
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