Complaining About Anthony Bourdain

B got me the last season of No Reservations on DVD for my birthday.  Last night, as a post-dinner-with-friends winding-down, we watched the Ozarks episode, which consists largely of Tony tooling around in the backwoods of Missouri with different gaggles of rednecks, killing (or at least trying to kill) animals.  As usual, his own humor and gravitas are such that the hillbillies he's hanging out with, whether in the duck blind or the tavern with the arm-wrestling tournament, seem to warm up to him pretty quickly, and he goes to great pains to relate to them, to join them, and not to stick his nose in the air just because he happens to be visiting a fly-over state.

The episode is highly reminiscent of one he did several seasons ago where he zipped across the southwest, ending up at Ted Dickhead Nugent's survivalist mansion/compound, where Tony cheerfully joined Uncle Ted in shooting machine guns and listening to foaming-at-the-mouth libertarianism given free reign.

I like Tony Bourdain, I like his show a lot, but I hate these episodes.  It strikes me that he suffers from a bizarre kind of liberal guilt in which he feels guilty for BEING liberal; it's not so much that he questions his own politics, but instead that he feels ethically obligated to demonstrate with great force that his open-mindedness extends to people on the other side of the aisle.  He also makes a big show of his dislike for mealy-mouthed political correctness; his whole San Francisco episode consisted of him trying to find something he hated, gloomily concluding that San Francisco is really cool and fun, much to his own irritation.

I have two problems with this:
  1. The other side doesn't launch liberal-outreach programs.  Ann Coulter does not visit Berkeley or Austin or Portland and ask around to try to understand us better; she instead compares us to satanic Stalinists and hopes that we get what we got comin'.  I do not think Bourdain does "his" side any service by putting on a one-man dog and pony show to conspicuously reach out to them.
  2. Liberalism has always needed more balls.  Obama in his second term, whatever else can be said about him, is at least coming out swinging.  He wasted so much time and political capital in his first term being a good liberal conciliator, and it's nice to see that he's finally acknowledged that Republicans are not reasonable people capable of compromise.  For his part, Bourdain has plenty of balls, and I hate to see him wasting his ballsiness trying to hate on liberal stereotypes (another tired vegetarian joke, anyone?) rather than sticking it to the idiots who, like Nugent, think every man is an island, and that island should be surrounded by guard towers and stocked with wild game to kill.

1 comment:

noncoupable said...

Ha! I was just about to comment on the fact that I'm tired of him giving vegetarians crap (because he's just not as funny as he things he is) until I read your last line! I like watching the old episodes online when I can find them -- the snarky comments he makes in the European-based shows are usually spot-on. With that said... I'm sort of over him. When I watch now I somehow find him to be annoying in his d**kish attitude.