Monday, March 05, 2007

Ann Coulter's Inappropriate Laugh Track

Through Lawyers, Guns & Money, I was introduced to a piece of ambush journalism from CPAC which starts with Michelle Malkin refusing to sign a photograph of Japanese Americans, interned during WWII, and closes with Ann Coulter's now infamous "faggot" joke. I'm not a huge fan of ambush journalism, but I'll leave that topic for another day. I did appreciate the opportunity to see Ann Coulter make her joke, and to get a better impression of why it flopped.

The problem isn't that it was different or more inflammatory than her past rhetoric. It wasn't.

The problem is that she had a laugh track.

In fairness to the CPAC audience, the laughs were far from uniformly appreciative of the joke. There's enough groaning and surprise mixed with the laughter to let you know that many people were reacting to the outrageousness of the statement, which was probably Ann Coulter's expectation - this is her M.O. Does anybody contend that she truly believes John Edwards to be gay? There's nothing clever about a third grade insult like, "He's gay", but Ann Coulter has built her career largely on similarly childish insults.

The problem this time is that there was obviously a significant percentage of her audience who found her funny. Had she made the same comment on a show like Real Time With Bill Maher{, the audience would have... oh, how did Hitchens put it... they would have made "booing and mooing noises". Ann Coulter would have displayed her trademark smug smile and said something derisive about the audience (like, they're so PC they'll want to send her to rehab for making that joke). And everything would have carried on as usual.

The problem here isn't that Ann Coulter did something more outrageous than she's done before. The problem isn't that she embarrassed herself - to the extent that she ever had any shame, she gave it up a long time ago in pursuit of riches. The problem is that this time she got a large number of self-described conservatives at a major conservative event to embarrass themselves. Ann Coulter did what a good speaker does - she knew her audience, she spoke to her audience, she connected with her audience, and she told a joke that worked with her audience. The conservative horror, be it feigned or real, is not a reaction to what she revealed about herself, but is to what she revealed about a large percentage of self-described modern conservatives.

1 comment:

  1. It's good to see that the family values and Christian ethics of CPAC make for a great place for Ms. Coulter's use of the word "faggot". Nice work, Ann! Perhaps she can go to Walter Reed and mention the "gimps and crips" while she's there.


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