Flipping through the channels tonight, I had the misfortunate of stumbling upon an episode of The O'Reilly Factor. There was a time in my life (about tenth grade) that I kind of liked Bill O'Reilly, surprisingly enough. I read his book The No Spin Zone and appreciated his unfettered honesty and actually, his solution to the prison overpopulation problem (mostly expanding the old license-plate stamping operation into more and varied menial labor to make prisoners earn their keep). But that doesn't alleviate the fact that the man is completely insane and more of a rumor-monger than Dr. Phil, Oprah and my mother combined.
Tonight's show was about parents and how unbelievably bad they are these days. They don't read the Bible, they drink beer, they smoke weed--and all right in front of their kids! With two correspondents flanking him, O'Reilly went off on a rant about how much worse parents are in 2009 than they even were in--gasp!--1969! Woodstock! Brown acid! Marijuana and tie-dye! Yes, in this age of selfishness, we've even outdone our pot-smoking, baby-booming parents and their feel-good parenting ways. How? Well, other than cell phones, Facebook, "emo" and body modifications, we do drugs too! And apparently we encourage our kids to do them too?
Or at least we "exploit" them. That was O'Reilly's focus as he played a clip from one of my recent favorite internet videos, "David After the Dentist." In the video, a father in the front seat of his car asks his son, who recently just had oral surgery some questions as the boy is still in a different galaxy from being under. The video is definitely good for a laugh, with little David totally freaking out, questioning his existence and screaming uncontrollably at one point. But as for exploitation... really? That's what made your radar tonight, Bill? A months-old video of a kid high on nitrous oxide after getting stitches in his gums?
I mean, I could understand if David's father had just convinced his innocent son to drop acid or something--that would be horrible and absolutely worth the outrage. But this was a kid after a routine medical procedure, and frankly, it's kind of cute. The dad isn't doing anything bad to him, he's just having a good giggle, and I'm sure that afterwards, David thought the whole thing was pretty damn funny as well. I still remember getting my wisdom teeth out, and my mother telling me I wouldn't remember anything. So naturally, I forced myself to stay awake during the ride home, talking so much that my gauze fell out and blood poured out of my mouth and got all over my shirt. I finally got to bed and slept but when I groggily woke up, the bleeding still hadn't stopped and I started freaking out and yelled for my dad who gave approximately half of a shit because he knew I was fine. Still, I yelled "huck huu!" after him ("fuck you!" with a mouthful of cotton) as he left my room, laughing out loud.
Point is, kids on drugs are funny. If, of course, they're not nine-year-olds on heroin; Harmony Korine's movies really aren't much for knee-slappers. If you're teaching your second grader to smoke a bowl, that's probably not cool at all, but if you're just having a laugh because your son can't feel his face after getting some teeth pulled, I'm pretty sure child services isn't going to be bursting through your door at any point in the near future.
There are plenty of stories that deserve outrage, and it should be the responsibility of a spotlighted loud-mouth like O'Reilly to showcase those. Instead, he turns his ire in the direction of a harmless YouTube video and then gets some sycophantic lackeys to get behind him on camera and tell the world that his shit smells like roses? I thought he was supposed to be a hard-hitting newsman. Where's the No Spin Zone, Billy? You're making me dizzy.