Bill Maher is a rotting legume, somewhere between two weeks and two decades past its prime. Maher has been broadcast comedy/politics' enfant terrible for as long as anyone can remember, but he truly seems to be living on borrowed time since his most recent series of face-plants. His most notable fuck-up of late was, of course, using the term “house n*****” during a taping of his show Real Time With Bill Maher three weeks — or 7,000 news cycles — ago.
Since then, he's sputtered out an apology and continued business as usual — whether that’s having black guests on his subsequent show publicly flagellate him for a bit or having the editor-in-chief of Breitbart News on to find common ground. For every good thing Maher tries to do to make up for his mistakes, he finds a way to do something doubly stupid. That’s his pattern: two steps forward, 10 steps and a few racist slurs back. He’s been doing it for decades.
Maher knows that HBO probably will let him say whatever he wants forever, being that it isn't beholden to advertisers. But the point is: He got away with it, again. Just like the cops who get off for “doing their jobs,” Maher rests on the defense that comedy is a sacred place for bad politics. Same as shitheels like him practically always do.
Maher has been called out for using the N-word in the past by one black ex-girlfriend in particular who claimed he would use it regularly, as if it were acceptable behavior. But, as many are right to point out, it’s not just that word. He’s also been spewing Islamophobic horseshit for ages, espousing all manner of atrocious politics via hacky, ’80s-style stand-up bits on multiple networks.
If you’re left of the Republican Party and for some reason still watch this program, ask yourself, “Why? Why do I do this thing that I know is bad?” It’s bad. Why do you do it? Is it because Bill Maher speaks to some part of your lizard brain that hates Islam or POC? If so, maybe you should check that out.
But there’s no difference between Maher and any of the putrid pundits on the right. Bill Maher is Milo is Alex Jones is Mike Cernovich. These entertainers-cum-pundits have no politics except the politics of self-promotion. Maher is always waiting in the wings to fire off some “anti-PC” hot take about how liberals are stupid before parroting the most inane liberal tropes, like entertaining hysterical Russian conspiracy theories. He both hates liberals and is their accidental official mascot. Maher obviously needs to go (tell your mom, or whoever’s HBO GO password you use, to cancel their subscription), but he won’t leave until they pry that stage away from his cold, lifeless hands.
There are many factors contributing to why Trump is president, and the center-left's propaganda machine — Maher included — is likely part of that calculus.
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So who lets Bill Maher do this? HBO, obviously, a network that seems to operate under a moral debit/credit system. It gave a black comedian her own show and it's good? Kudos! Bravo! Let’s get some awards recognition. But, also, let’s let a white POS use the N-word on the same network.
Unfortunately, morality or having any sort of politics doesn’t work like that. One bad thing is a bad thing. A good thing doesn’t undo the bad thing that you’re conveniently ignoring. This is Hollywood’s version of penance: Keep doing the bad thing but throw money at something with good media optics. They think we’re stupid. And maybe they’re right.
But HBO should know better. It can see the content bubble looming like some tsunami on the horizon. When that wave hits, will there be any place for shows like Real Time? Or networks that play fast and loose with hate speech? Let’s sure as shit hope not.
If Bill Maher and HBO are supposed to represent some sort of standard of what prestige TV has come to mean — the sense that it’s a place for erudite opinions or “mature” themes and adult conversations — then maybe we need to flush some of these turds, as well as prestige TV that's willing to stoop to cheap tabloid sensationalism, down the content hole for good.