Beast of the Month - July 2007
The View, Annoying Daytime TV Talk Show
"I yam an anti-Christ... "
John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten) of The Sex Pistols, "Anarchy in the UK"
"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." So said Charles Dickens at the start of A Tale of Two Cities, and it could easily describe the boobtube landscape during the decade of zeroes. Far from The Boss' dire prediction of "57 channels and nothin' on" in a 1992 song, thanks to DirecTV and TiVo, there's 500-plus channels to surf with almost always something worth watching. Of course, that sometimes may be hard to believe with the countless inane reality shows that seemingly dominate the dial. Still, with all due respect to Temptation Island, Joe Millionaire, and Britney & Kevin: Chaotic (as well as the atrocious family drama 7th Heaven) the most annoying TV show of the decade, hands down, would have to be The View, the female gabfest talk show created by Barbara Walters and The Konformist Beast of the Month.
About here we should insert a disclaimer about gender bias. Yes, a look at Konformist Kontributing Editors over the years would reveal a male-dominated species. Fair enough. So with that acknowledged, the general consensus view of The Konformist staff is thus: for all the crimes against humanity unleashed by Michael Bay in Armageddon and Pearl Harbor, we still firmly believe a pop-culture decided by nine-year old boys is infinitely superior to one dominated by middle-age women. (As proof, we present as exhibits Josh Groban, Michael Bolton and Steel Magnolias.) Further, we bluntly declare that the whole so-called purpose of The View, to allow a group of women to speak what's on their minds, is misguided. Frankly, we think women spend way too much time speaking about what they're thinking and feeling to begin with. If that be sexist, so be it.
(And in a similar vein, we cite Grey's Anatomy, an insufferable experience for any man to watch - made all the more insufferable due to the only reason any guy watches it is he's being forced to by some woman. By the way, here's a tip to networks on how to make shows more appealing to men: don't have characters with nicknames like "McDreamy" and "McSteamy" in the cast.)
Making The View all the more unappetizing to men: any female on the show that even begins to appeal to guys soon leaves. The most noted example: Lisa Ling (who is still often referred to as "the hot Asian chick on The View") was perhaps the only non-obnoxious female besides Babs to co-host the show, after she replaced the annoying Debbie Matenopoulos. Despite her harmless personality and disarming looks, she left after only three seasons. Her replacement, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, though a noted babe since her stint on Survivor, prattles on about her right-wing political beliefs that neutralizes any appeal she may have. (Though she comes off as a more attractive but less shrill Ann Coulter, that's still not a compliment.) Then there's the curious case of Star Jones, who for years was an obese, controversially combative member of the cast. In 2006, her contract was not renewed, coincidentally when a diet and exercise regiment (and by that we mean gastric bypass surgery) turned her suddenly a sexy svelte. Looking at all this, one has to wonder if The View is some kind of twisted joke created from the nightmares of Sam Kinison in hell to torture all men.
That seems to be the explanation for what happened after the bland Meredith Vieira left the show at the end of the 2006 season to replace Katie Couric on The Today Show. (She, along with Walters, Jones and the shrill Joy Beyhart, was a co-host of the show since its debut 1997 season.) Where oh where could they find someone that could turn what was already a black joke on men even worse? They seemingly found the perfect answer in Rosie O'Donnell, the loudmouthed former talk-show host and alleged comedian. Here was someone with an uber-obnoxious personality that was like Star Jones on steroids, minus the dark skin and weight loss.
Perversely, the hiring of O'Donnell worked, as oddly this hefty, adversarial lesbian has a huge following among soccer moms. (Again, evidence that middle-aged women shouldn't control our popular culture.) Ratings skyrocketed to record levels, fueled by a media catfight between Rosie and a hissy Donald Trump. And then surprise hit, which turns the whole tale of The View into a truly Beastly affair.
At some point in 2007, Rosie, long a critic of George W. Bush and the Iraq Quagmire, apparently became interested in 9/11 conspiracy theories, and in late March repeated some of the juiciest 9/11 con claims and evidence on the show. She elaborated on it further on her blog. Though right-wing mouthpieces (most notably the falafel-loving Bill O'Reilly) demanded show boycotts and her firing for her utterance, The View suffered no loss of popularity following the controversy.
Despite the record ratings, deemed overwhelmingly due to O'Donnell's giant fan base, it was publicly announced less than a month later her one-year contract would not be extended by ABC. Officially, the sticking point was money and contract length: Rosie wanted a one-year, $10 million contract, ABC three years for $18 million. But in closer examination, this doesn’t make sense. To begin with, like her or not, $10 million still would be a bargain for someone with a proven following like Rosie. As for the contract length, there's no reason this should be a deal-breaker, as one season of Rosie guaranteed is still better than none. All in all, the gap between the two parties was pretty normal for contract negotiations.
One widely believed rumor is that ABC had demanded that Rosie clamp down on her 9/11 conspiracy talk, to which she rightfully refused. This, and not money, was the big issue. Making this theory all the more plausible: according to the New York Post Page Six, Rosie had booked the makers of the 9/11 conspiracy documentary Loose Change for the May 24 episode.
Unfortunately, the Loose Change makers never got their chance to promulgate con theories to soccer moms, as on May 23, Rosie had a televised meltdown in a now infamous battle of words with Hasselbeck on the show. The knock-down drag-out was instigated by right-wing mouthpieces that were increasingly trashing Rosie for her high profile criticism of the Iraq War, twisting her words to claim she viewed American soldiers as "terrorists." Rosie denounced Elisabeth as "cowardly" for not sticking up for her in a heated exchange that lasted well past what should have been the commercial break. (As the argument enfolded, the two were shown together on split screen.) After the episode, it was announced that her contract with ABC would end early and she would no longer appear on the show.
Let it be said that though Loose Change is (unsurprisingly) very popular among most Konformist Kontributors, it does have its critics over both its methods and conclusions. This shouldn't be a surprise, as there is among the Konformist editors widely different views about what happened on 9/11 and who was behind it. But if the merits of Loose Change can be summed up in one phrase that unites the Konformist staff varying viewpoints, it's that while it may not have all the right answers, it definitely asks all the right questions, questions that have both a right and a need to be asked.
Likewise, The Konformist may prefer to have someone besides Rosie be the face of 9/11 conspiracies (someone noted for their good judgment, classy sophistication and intellectual depth - like, say, Charlie Sheen) but like it or not, she's become it, and has done more than anyone since Michael Moore to encourage questioning and examination of the 9/11 story. For this, she should be saluted. The evidence suggests that it was her speaking her mind (which was what she was hired to do) that ended her relationship with The View, a relationship that had shown no signs of faltering or advertising backlash. In other words, ABC had no legitimate reason to release her from the show. While there is room for speculation, it appears that ABC wimped out to appeal to the right-wing mob mentality, much like its parent company Disney did with Michael Moore and Fahrenheit 9/11.
The punch line is, like with the Mickey Mouse Fahrenheit wimp-out, the cave-in has backfired. Within two weeks of Rosie's departure, the show's audience has tanked over 400,000, with advertising revenues surely soon to fall. (This is contrast to the Don Imus firing, which was preceded by a sudden bailing of big advertisers over his racist snickerings.) But, as with the Michael Moore flick, it appears Disney is more interested in schmoozing right-wing political interests for governmental favors than present a popular, albeit provocative, viewpoint.
While speculation continues over where Rosie will go next (a solo talk show, perhaps, or maybe The Price Is Right) or who will replace her (one disturbing name floated by Babs: Paris Hilton) The View clearly has jumped the shark culturally and lost any worth as something more than women babbling about Dancing with the Stars. It's kind of sad: despite her dubious credit as creator and co-host, Ms. Walters has long been among the most thoughtful and empathic voices in the mainstream media (male or female.) Thanks to Rosie, Babs' show was finally presenting something that made it almost worth watching. But just when it got interesting, it switched gears and removed the one thing that wasn't shrill brain-rot for bourgeoisie housewives. But hey, what else can you expect from a bunch of women?
In any case, we salute The View as Beast of the Month. Congratulations, and keep up the great work, ladies!!!
Special Konformist Note: For the writing of this article, Konformist Editor Robert Sterling was forced to do something men don't normally do, which is watch The View (via clips on Youtube.com.) While he sacrificed his own health for the good of Konformist readers, he doesn't advocate other men do the same, for they may suffer the effects of estrogen poisoning. If, for some reason, you are someday forced to watch The View (most likely by the same woman who forces you to watch Grey's Anatomy) we recommend that you keep something nearby that will give you the necessary hormonal boost to counteract the effects of the show. In particular, Jean-Claude Van Damme action films on video seem to do the trick.