Monday, August 12, 2013

"Crossballs" - The Debate Show!

Our motivation on Criminalize Conservatism has always been to instruct and entertain, and we present our posting today, "Crossballs," to entertain - without a bit of instruction.

From Wikipedia, their entry on "Crossballs":

"Crossballs: The Debate Show is a Comedy Central television show which poked fun at cable news networks' political debate shows, especially CNN's Crossfire and MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews. In each episode, comedians posing as experts on a particular subject would debate two real commentators. The true experts were unaware that the show was a sham. Topics ranged from reality television to religion to violence in video games.

"It debuted on July 6, 2004 and ran for eight weeks. It aired Tuesday-Friday at 7:30 p.m. ET. The twenty-third and final episode aired on August 24, 2004. Show number 24 ("Pistol Whipped America") was taped but never aired, after one of the unsuspecting guests, James March, threatened to sue Comedy Central.

And from, Jacob Sullum asked the question, "Crossballs Puzzle: Why don't the guests on Comedy Central's fake debate show get the joke?"

"'Pac-Man's homophobic,' says a video game critic wearing glasses, a sweater vest, and a tie. 'The ghosts are homosexuals: They wear garish, bright colors and dresses, and they rub up against each other in a box. Think about it. Is the Pac-Man going to...let them be homosexuals, let them get married? No, he's going to eat a power pellet and then go chomp the ghosts... If we had power pellets in real life, there would be no gay culture right now.'

"On the other side of the desk, a defender of video games is momentarily stunned. 'It's laughable,' he says. 'No reasonable person would make that connection.'

Jerry Minor

"True enough: His opponent is not a reasonable person. He's a character played by the comedian Jerry Minor on the new Comedy Central series Crossballs . The show's premise is straightforward: 'comedians posing as experts...debating real people who don't know the show is fake.'

"Crossballs is at least as edifying as the typical TV debate show—and a lot more entertaining. But it poses a serious puzzle: How is it that the real guests don't realize the fake guests are fake?

"One possibility is that the positions staked out by the comics pretending to be experts are what we've come to expect from TV pundits: strong beliefs backed up by little more than bold assertions and bluster. When a marijuana activist played by Matt Besser (co-creator and executive producer of Crossballs) begins a segment about drugs by declaring, "I think we all agree that pot is good for everyone," his debating style does not seem very different from what you can see on The O'Reilly Factor any given evening.

Matt Besser

"Likewise, the easy resort to ad hominem attacks is familiar to viewers of real debate shows, so it does not seem so strange when a Crossballs guest calls an opponent 'crazy,' 'stupid,' a 'schmuck,' a 'right-wing fascist type,' or 'no better than Dr. Mengele.' In fact, all those insults come from real guests who think the show is on the level.

"Still, as the impostors' comments become more and more outrageous, you'd think the dupes would realize something is amiss. When Besser's pro-pot character talks about doing 'research' on local kids, getting them alternately high and drunk before sending them out to drive around the neighborhood, can anyone seriously believe him?

"Yes, it turns out. Marilyn MacDougall, executive director of the group Drug Use Is Life Abuse, is outraged. 'You're a jeopardy to society,' she tells Besser (to which he retorts, 'You're a Wheel of Fortune to society').

"In her '50s-style hairdo and high-necked, long-sleeved dress, the stiff, humorless MacDougall is a perfect foil for Besser's character—who, it becomes clear, got high before going on the air. MacDougall, in fact, is suspiciously good at playing her part, but she is indeed a real person.

"The explanation for MacDougall's credulity, I think, is that she assumes anyone who opposes the war on drugs is an irresponsible druggie, just the sort of person who would get high before going on national television or encourage teenagers to drive while intoxicated. Similarly, Wiley Drake, a Southern Baptist pastor invited on Crossballs to condemn homosexuality, takes it in stride when Besser, playing a gay rights activist, discusses his 'polyamorous relationship' with six other men, including his brother, and argues 'there is nothing more pro-family than incest.'

"Or consider biotechnology critic Luke Anderson, who begins a Crossballs debate on genetic manipulation by charging that his opponents are 'techno-utopians' who want to create a world in which 'those of us who don't have artificial chromosomes' will serve the 'gene-rich.' He seems to think no idea is too ridiculous for biotech supporters to believe.

Andy Daly

"Hence Anderson does not guess that Crossballsis putting him on when a futurist played by comedian Andy Daly envisions using locust genes to create 'potatoes that unearth themselves when they're ready to harvest.' Or when a space enthusiast played by Besser proposes sending poor Guatemalan children to the moon so they can do the digging for the first lunar colonies.

"'What is so dangerous is that these guys clearly sound like raving lunatics,' Anderson says, 'and yet they're in charge of huge amounts of money in the most powerful country in the world.' Perhaps what is so dangerous is that we are so quick to believe the worst of those who disagree with us.'"

Mary Birdsong

(Jacob Sullum is a senior editor at Reason magazine and a nationally syndicated columnist. Follow Jacob Sullum on Twitter.)

Episode 1, "The Last Word On Reality TV.":

Each Episode takes a little over 21 minutes, and we recommend that you do NOT drink anything while watching unless you want it to discharge through your nose.

From time to time, we'll present much of the remaining Episodes, but if you can't wait?  Just click here --> Crossballs Episodes.

Another Crossballs victim.

It's worth mentioning for those that have noted that Conservative humor is...well, humorless.  The likes of Victoria Jackson and Dennis Miller have had careers that have bombed once they tried to interject Conservative politics into their routines, and "Crossballs" has successfully pranked Liberals as well as Conservatives with howling success.

See here, here, and here.

Please enjoy!  Joyce, Jnr.


"I have never known any distress that an hour's reading did not relieve.”

Charles de Montesquieu, known simply as Montesquieu. (French social

commentator and political thinker who lived during the Age of Enlightenment. 1689
 - 1755.)