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'Last Week Tonight' Returns To Give Americans Something To Feel Proud Of On President's Day. No, Really.

By Emily Cutler | Last Week Tonight | February 19, 2018 |

By Emily Cutler | Last Week Tonight | February 19, 2018 |


Oh, thank the Sweet Baby Jesus, John Oliver has finally returned to us. He’s been gone for such a long time, but now he’s back and things will be mostly heart-breakingly bad with a touch of slow progress and hope as well as the occasional genuine changing of minds. So, just late night as usual.

And as the opening credits were rolling, I was slightly concerned about how Oliver would handle all of the news that had happened while he was away. Would he tackle gun control after the most recent “unprecedented” biweekly mass-shooting? Or the tax plan that handed out millions to taxpayers the rich while giving average citizens a nice bonus squandered future? Or would he, as with most of the country, just say “fuck it”, and gently rock himself in a corner while weeping quietly?

Hell no. John doesn’t have time for that.

See, I got into a bit of a Facebook argument over the weekend (which everyone knows is the best and most productive form of arguing with strangers/your cousin’s husband), and this interaction, along with a few other random podcasts and articles, forced a shocking thought to bubble to the forefront of my brain: Maybe we can do something.

Not that it would be easy, necessarily. Congress is still overwhelmingly controlled by lobbyists who buy them off, wages and infrastructure have been degraded to the point that the average citizen is working too much to pay for things that now cost more than they should, and a buffoon of a failed businessman is ostensibly running the country. These are very big obstacles. But they’re not insurmountable. Especially not for a group of highly pissed off, recent gun violence victims with absolutely no fucks left to give.

And more importantly, not in a country that was theoretically built on doing things that had never been done before (that, and, you know, on the backs of enslaved peoples). We invented the telephone. We put a man on the moon. We created Taco Bell fries, and, more importantly, roundly condemned that monstrosity. Unless you actually like them, which I don’t understand, but, as many, many terrible movies have told us before, this is a free country and you can like them if you want. This is also not me being flippant. I genuinely think the idea of people putting on ridiculous T-Rex costumes and making YouTube videos is an example of the best shit the U.S. has to offer. We can be funny. And irreverent. We don’t have to take ourselves seriously, yet we can still get that fucking car fixed while looking like an idiot. We can do all of those things, and we can still work to vastly improve the lives of most citizens.

See, I think deep down the reason Trump is so objectionably vile to most Americans is because he’s a bastardization of all the values we really like. We want people to be salt-of-the-earth folk who don’t look down on others. Trump looks down on everyone, but does so while eating a Big Mac so he thinks he’s “regular.” We want people to work hard, and demand that they get paid a fair wage for that hard work. Trump wants to golf and claims that being born with a name is worthy of billions. Trump only cares about everyone liking him even though he has absolutely no empathy or understanding of anyone who isn’t living inside his body (and that’s a rough position to be in. It needs some work in there).

But we don’t have to give up on the things we value just because Trump has turned them into things assholes do. Trump is the worst the U.S. has to offer, but he doesn’t get to define what being from the U.S. means. We can not give a fuck about what anyone thinks of us in the best possible ways, and make some significant changes. We just have to remember who we are. We’re the country that made the Batmobile Bed, and goddamn it, we should be proud of that.

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