When both commercial success and critical acclaim are considered, Chris Rock is the hottest comedian going. Critics like Rock in part because he doesn't merely entertain; he also delves into Serious Issues. Reviewing Rock's current HBO special, "Bigger & Blacker," Ken Tucker of Entertainment Weekly wrote that "one crucial trait that distinguishes Rock from every other comedian of his generation is that his jokes proceed from a thought-out political philosophy containing both radical and conservative elements."
Oh-oh. A "thought-out political philosophy"?
Even if that's true, that's not saying much - after all, the other prominent comics roughly Rock's age (33) are Adam Sandler and Carrot Top - but I find Tucker's opinion dubious given Rock's most notorious political utterance. Last August he appeared on the "Today" show and, in defense of Bill Clinton, told Matt Lauer, "Do you know how low it is to go after somebody's sex life? You know that's the lowest you can do...If Clinton would pardon me, I would whip [Ken] Starr's ass right now. I will get a crew from Brooklyn and we will stomp him."
In defense of Rock, let us pray that such a truly disgraceful comment was not thought out before it was spewed. So let's look at Rock's prepared material, where he's had plenty of time to think and to express those thoughts. Let's look at "Bigger & Blacker," his book "Rock This!" and other recent quotations.
Rock, who was raised in a two-parent home, would like us to believe he's firm on the importance of family and, specifically, of parents devoting themselves to their offspring. In "Bigger & Blacker," he talks about being in a nightclub with a woman at 2 a.m. on a weeknight when she mentions that she has two children. Rock wonders why, in that case, she's out so late, and says to her, "Go take care of them kids 'fore they rob me in ten years." So far, so good.
He's also in agreement with Dan Quayle on the Murphy Brown issue: "Buncha girls say, 'You don't need no man to help you raise no child'...Yeah, you could do it without a man, but that don't mean it's to be done. S-t, you could drive a car with your feet if you want[ed] to. That don't make it a good f-kin' idea...You could be the baddest mama on earth...and nothin' you could say [is] more powerful than 'I'm gonna tell your daddy.'"
I just don't know if Quayle would put it that way.
Rock's essential problem is that while he praises the family, he has no idea what that means. While praising (I guess) the nuclear family, he's extremely indulgent regarding Clinton-style sexual libertinism. In the HBO special, Mr. Family declares, "A man is basically as faithful as his options...No more, no less." Rock hints that those who pursued Clinton's impeachment were motivated by jealousy. During Monicagate, he says, "you [saw] all these fat Republican guys goin', 'I would never [have an affair with an intern].' I'm like, 'Nobody's tryin' to [fellate] you.'"
Not only was Bill and Monica's dalliance no big deal to Rock, neither was the coverup. In a February concert held a few hours after the Senate acquitted Clinton, Rock, according to the Washington Post's review, said, "They had the president on trial for absolutely nothing...You're supposed to try people for the crime, not for trying to get away from the crime." Obstructing justice, Rock added, just "shows [Clinton] has common sense."
Rock's pro-Clinton stance predates Monicagate. In "Rock This!" - published in the fall of '97, three months before the scandal broke - he wrote, "Everyone's always on Clinton...Leave him alone. Now they're trying to get him for sexual harassment. What happened? [Paula Jones] came to his hotel room, he whipped it out, she said no, and left. And she wants to sue him? He's the one who got turned down."
And should pregnancy result from Clinton's (or any other man's) promiscuity, well, that's no big deal, either. In his book, Rock stated, "Abortion [is] a women's issue. We should have separate Supreme Courts: one for men, one for women. It's bad enough that a bunch of men get to vote on abortion. I wouldn't want a bunch of women voting on what I could do with my [testicles]."
Such is the state of one man's "thought-out political philosophy" if we accept the notion that he's capable of thought.