Sunday, November 23, 2008

Red Eye: A Bad Show, or the Worst Show?

I recently started an internship where my primary responsibility is to watch assigned television shows looking for (then pulling, editing, and uploading) newsworthy, interesting, or entertaining clips for the web. On my first day, I dutifully moved down the list of shows until I hit one I’d never heard of, a Fox News offering called Red Eye. (I’m not exactly Fox News’ target demographic.) I started to watch, and after about five minutes I turned to my editor, slightly alarmed. “Is this a real show?” I asked. Part of me suspected they were hazing the new girl by making me watch a compilation of terrible clips or something. My editor assured me that Red Eye is a real show that real people pay money to produce. So I watched. And after it was over, I told my editor that I was a worse person for having watched that.

Red Eye is, in theory, a funny look at the day’s news that airs on Fox News every morning at three a.m. It’s exactly like The Soup, if The Soup was daily, aired in the dead of night, focused on news instead of pop culture, was packed to the gunny walls with slanderously racist, misogynistic, anti-Semitic, and homophobic remarks, and was painfully unfunny. Which I guess means it’s nothing like The Soup. Of course something like this would air on Fox News.

Fox News and I go way back. In 2006 there was an incident at my school that made a lot of national headlines, and Fox News picked up on it and held on like a monkey with a damned banana. They spent the rest of that semester and a good part of the next trolling for non-stories to make us look bad. For example, I wrote a completely innocuous newspaper article that had a section on our school’s S&M club. A few weeks later, Ann Coulter’s reporting on how depraved the student body is because we have an S&M club. Because I was the humor editor for our newspaper’s spin-off magazine at the time, it was my job to try and comment on all the insanity, but I found it oddly difficult to make fun of Fox News because they were insane on a level that seemed to exist outside the confines of reality. I do recall writing one spoof article that was so vitriolic and unambiguously offensive that my co-editor had to reverse our usual dynamic and tell me I’d gone too far – that was usually my role. The toned down version was still pretty terrible and I’m unbelievably relieved that the archives for that semester are not online.

So there I am on Friday, watching Red Eye, feeling far less alarmed than I was in my first outing. Somewhere along the way, the show kind of grew on me. That, or Stockholm Syndrome has set in. I’m now ashamed to admit I’ll occasionally flip it on at home when I have insomnia. It’s just so surreal to see that many racist/homophobic/misogynistic/anti-Semitic comments packed into one hour. Sometimes, a particularly crazy homeless person will come onto your subway car, ranting about the government and Jews or whatever, and you don’t want to stare because he might try to dash in your brains with a brick, and also he smells like pee. But with Red Eye, there’s a television set standing between you and the crazy ranting man! You can openly stare and not even feel guilty because, against all odds, the crazy ranting man is getting paid to do this! For all you know, Greg Gutfeld might not even smell like pee!

Anyway, after the show I wanted to see if any of the other episodes this week had covered a particular topic in the faux news alerts that kick off the show, so I went through the episodes I had on hand. I didn’t find what I was looking for, but I did find something else - a bizarre pattern of picking on Belgium. Belgium is not a country I’d ever given much thought to outside the confines of French class. I know they have good waffles and chocolate, and I sometimes confuse Belgium with Germany and Austria because I have an astoundingly terrible sense of geography and global politics, but that’s about it. But here were two clips in one week, picking on Belgium for no discernible reason. Still looking for the other topic I wanted, I hit up Hulu to see what they had, and the first thing I clicked on, an episode from September, featured more Belgium mockery. I found the arbitrariness of it hilarious – Belgium! Who in the world has a deathgrudge against Belgium? – so I compiled the clips and sent them off. The managing editor, Gabriel Snyder, picked it up and wrote a hilarious post about it. So if you go here, you can read his hilarious post and see video proof that someone at Red Eye has a grudge against Belgium. (Belgium! Really!)

Earlier in the day, I had pulled another hilarious clip off Fox and Friends, Fox News’ answer to the Today Show, which is only slightly (slightly) more PC than Red Eye. In the clip, Fox and Friends claimed that 81% of all “babes” were planning to see Twilight, and that most young girls were turned on to the book series by their mothers. (Which may have been true in the 80s/90s when I was a kid pilfering my mom’s V.C. Andrews, but I think it’s safe to say that nowadays, moms are following their daughters into the Twilight, not the other way around.) The clip was picked up by both Defamer with New 'Twilight' Report Affirms Fox News's Commitment to Cultural Tone-Deafness and Jezebel with 80% Of All Women Babes Plan To See Twilight. Fox News might in fact be my new favorite place to go for I’m-laughing-at-not-with-you hilarity.

As far as Red Eye, I can’t in good conscience recommend that you watch this show on TV. If everyone reading this blog tuned into Red Eye all at once, their audience would grow 1000% to a staggering twenty viewers, and that would send the producers the wrong message. But it’s worth pulling up some clips on YouTube and marveling at the insanity. Just make sure to cleanse your palate by tuning into The Soup on Friday.


Sex Mahoney for President said...

I can't wait to see this show. I loved the clips. All comedians need a country on which to pick, and I suppose that, in a very loose sense of the word, this is comedy.I thought it was funny... not their jokes, but the poor writing. I wonder if they're hiring. I'm coming back to America soon and I could use a hate spewing job.

Belgium is the greatest country in the world, and not for it's chocolate or waffles, but for it's pommes frites. I once took a fifteen hour train ride to spend a whole day in Belgium eating all the fries I could stomach. By the time I left, I was so sick. It was glorious.

Sex Mahoney for President

smd said...

That's definitely the greatest thing about Red Eye: the knowledge that people are getting paid to write this shit. They could just make a recording of a crazy homeless man ranting incoherently with the same results, and they could pay him in cans of Miller Lite.

And I agree, pommes frites are reason enough for Belgium to exist. When you re-emerge stateside, you should hit up this Belgian fry place down in I think Chelsea in the city, called B-Frites or something. Much shorter trainride.

Sex Mahoney for President said...

Cheers. I will be sure to check that out.

Alex said...

Ya this show is almost as outrageous as Chris Matthews or Keith Olbermann... man aren't those guys a riot!