A Tale of Two Sundays
by L. Brent Bozell III
May 5, 1998
I know I'm all alone on this one, but I've never been able to stomach Barbra Streisand's voice. To me it sounds at times like an untuned banjo. Still, I'll vow to listen to her music for as long as she wants if in turn she will promise to stop producing her boorishly PC movies.
Three years ago, Streisand produced the heavy-handed "Serving in Silence," an NBC film which advocated an end to the military's ban on open homosexuals and portrayed as bigots those supporting it. Last Sunday [note to editors: May 3], she was back with another NBC movie, "The Long Island Incident," another blatant propaganda effort, this time in favor of gun control.
"Incident" traces the transformation of Carolyn McCarthy, whose husband was killed and her son wounded in Colin Ferguson's 1993 Long Island Rail Road shooting rampage, from a generally apolitical housewife to a Democratic pro-gun control congresswoman. The story of the McCarthy family is a compelling and tragic one, and therefore useful as a framework for the filmmakers' true enthusiasm: bashing the National Rifle Association.
The caricatures are so crude as to be laughable. In easily the most offensive scene, a slimy NRA lobbyist confronts McCarthy on Capitol Hill in front of several reporters. "I was wondering how it feels to become a celebrity at the expense of your husband's life," he jabs, adding, "You're quite the actress." As McCarthy walks away without answering, the lobbyist continues his taunt. "No comment, huh?" he smirks, and for good measure throws in, "I'm here to keep sentimentality out of the political debate. My job is to protect the Second Amendment from people like you."
The NRA's Bill Powers says that he asked "every one of our federal lobbyists" and they insist this conversation never took place. Simple logic bolsters that claim. After all, if those media reports telling of the wealth and power (and, therefore, danger) of the NRA are true, you'd think they could afford classier lobbyists than this James Carville stereotype. In Hollywood what Streisand and Co. did is called dramatic license; in the real world it's known as deception. And what makes it especially reprehensible is that this is essentially the only scene in which the NRA supposedly is speaking for itself; otherwise, the organization's positions are filtered through politicians or the media.
This deck-stacking was too much even for some television critics. Eric Mink of the New York Daily News noted that although he's for gun control, the film "sacrifice[s] dramatic integrity for the sake of condescending?propaganda." Diane Eicher of the Denver Post declared "Incident" guilty of "tedious?moralizing.
"For her penance, Streisand should be made to watch hours and hours of the Fox animated-cartoon sitcom "King of the Hill," the most politically incorrect series on prime time television today. Just one week before her annoying rant, "King" demolished a liberal sacred cow - the Americans With Disabilities Act - with a splendidly irreverent use of humor.
In the episode, Hank Hill, the main character and de facto second-in-command at Strickland Propane, hires Leon, not realizing this bum is an irresponsible, unreliable, unproductive drug addict. Before long, Hank fires him, but Leon returns, accompanied by Anthony, a case worker from the local rehab center. Anthony explains that under the ADA, Leon can't be fired since it's illegal to dismiss anyone who's in treatment for a disability.
So Leon stays. Protected by the ADA, he now comes in several hours late each day because he's in withdrawal therapy, needs the office lights dimmed because his pupils are dilated, and gets to keep a futon in his work station because... well, he feels like it. His presence saps the morale of the other employees; they in turn claim "disabilities" of their own, among them obsessive-compulsive disorder and "yuppie flu." Productivity at Strickland grinds to a virtual halt.
In response, Hank summons Anthony back to the office and tells him, "I recently came to realize that I, too, suffer from a disability. It's called GWS, Good Worker Syndrome. I get sick to my stomach unless everyone around me is givin' 110 percent. The symptoms include pride, responsibility, and a feverish enthusiasm. It used to be a common condition among Americans." Hank ultimately solves the problem in the most un-PC way. He quits, thereby putting Strickland below the minimum number of employees necessary for a business to be subject to the obnoxious ADA regulations. Strickland's owner, thus liberated, fires Leon the louse and then hires back Hank.
It's a head-turner, this "King of the Hill." It hits at liberal icons with an unfettered joy. What makes the series the most fun is that it is sure to offend so many oh-so-very-serious liberals. My guess is that Barbra Streisand is probably already hard at work on "The Strickland Story."