Here’s the latest from the crossroads of faith, media & culture: 04/05/21

The World is My Country, narrated by Martin Sheen, is airing on many PBS stations this month. Check your local listings for the time and day in your area. The film, which makes the case that the world would be more just and peaceful if there were no countries and no national boundaries , is quite timely considering the current situation on America’s southern border. My review follows the trailer.

IMHO: The World is My County is a well-made and no doubt well-intentioned documentary offering a very sympathetic – and unchallenging – profile of actor-turned-activist Garry Davis. His story, as presented by former U.S. President Martin Sheen (who hosts/narrates), is an idealistic tale of a former American WWII bomber pilot who came to see national boundaries as the root cause for most of the world’s strife, injustices and wars. His sweeping solution was to do away with nations and borders while simply declaring a world government to be in existence. During the film we are treated to shots of Garry speaking to young adults who appear absolutely mesmerized by his vision for a united world.

That vision apparently drew the some support of the intelligentsia of his era, including the likes of Albert Einstein, Simone de Beauvoir, Jean Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, Albert Schweitzer, and E.B. White, as well as thousands of others. His movement is even credited with helping lead the way for the United Nations to unanimously pass the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on Dec. 10,1948.

Garry Davis died in 2013. He was 91.

So, was he a wise visionary hero for the ages or a useful idiot for truly totalitarian regimes seeking to morally disarm NATO? Some may even have a less kind interpretation of his motives. As for me, I’m for giving the man the benefit of the doubt regarding his motives. You can be wrong about something without being either evil or an idiot.

As for the documentary, it’s interesting and effective in presenting Garry’s POV but a skeptic (like me) will probably be left remembering the adage “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” In fact, I pretty much take the opposite view of Garry. I think many of the problems facing the world today stem from the fact that we don’t adequately recognize the legitimate boundaries of either nations or individuals.

We’re told that Garry’s ideas stemmed from his first-hand experiences during World War II, a conflict he believed could have been avoided if there were simply no countries to go to war with each other over such things as borders.  IMHO, it was actually Hitler’s lack of respect for national borders that led to the war.  Had Hitler respected international boundaries the conflict would have been averted. And, I guess, if he won the war, World Government would have been established. I wonder how that would have worked out. I’m kinda glad we never found out.

The World is My Country is recommended as a coherent presentation of an idea that’s out there and still impacting present-day politics. As a pathway forward for the world, however, I would refer back to the aforementioned adage about the road to hell.

Note: I plan to post an interview with The World is My Country producer/writer/director Arthur Kanegis next week. 
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Gutfeld! debuts tonight (FNC, 11:00 PM ET)! While that may be one explanation point too many for a single sentence, I am actually looking forward to this. For one thing, I just find Greg Gutfeld’s conservative/libertarian brand of comedy to be just plain funny – and especially refreshing and needed in a field of late-night comics who can’t seem to get a handle on how to parody the Biden Administration. Almost laughably (but, of course, not), it’s apparently just beyond them.

Right, left or center, I love good comedy. My first real experience in the media was with Headliners, a news-based cable access comedy show I created and produced with a liberal friend of mind and which led directly to a producer/writer job at CNN in the nineties. That was a decade when you had the likes of Johnny Carson ending his 30-year run at The Tonight Show as the era of Jay Leno and David Letterman was getting underway. Meanwhile, the cast of SNL featured legends like Dana Carvey, Phil Hartman, Darrell Hammond, Norm MacDonald and others irreverently following the comedy wherever it took them. There may have been an overall tilt to the left but Bill Clinton and Al Gore were certainly not considered off the table for spoofing.

Even in the early 2000s with Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert (in character as an insufferable conservative commentator) made their politics extremely clear during the George W. Bush years, they were at least targeting the powerful and were actually funny. Both of them lost a lot of juice during the Obama era when mocking the out-of-power seemed more hackneyed than cutting edge. Fast forward to today and you have current late-night hosts Kimmel, Fallon, Noah and Colbert (whose real persona is often more insufferable than his old fictional one) competing to see who can win the most brownie points with the globalist government/corporate establishment.

If anything captures the difference between the comedy of the 1990s and today, it’s probably the dueling Biden impressions between Dana Carvey and Stephen Colbert on a recent edition of Late Night which begins at 6:39 mark of the clip below. Colbert goes first with a variation of Jim Carrey’s unfunny SNL approach that tries to sell the notion that President Biden is actually pretty cool with his sunglasses and “half smile.” Colbert’s impression (apparently done in consultation with the White House PR team) is so absurdly off the mark that you have to feel for Carvey as he pretends to be amused. He then proceeds to drop his own dead-on interpretation. Colbert laughs awkwardly, as if uncomfortable that actual political comedy has found its way onto his show.  BTW, if you watch the whole clip, Carvey also nails a brilliant take on Dr. Anthony Fauci. This guy needs to be on TV regularly again.

The bottom line is that honest political comedy is actually important to the health of a free society. It shouldn’t be mean for the sake of being mean but it shouldn’t be scared either. Plus, there’s an audience hunger for comedy that doesn’t appear to come with a government stamp of approval. For those reasons, I think Gutfeld! is both a smart programming move and sort of an act of patriotism.

Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

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