Sarah Palin = REO Speedwagon

One of the more remarkable components of the so-called “Right Wing Entertainment Complex” (Fox/AM Radio/a gazillion reactionary websites) is the agonizing and complete predictability of its content. Barack Obama is the most evil, traitorious, illegal usurper, Muslim, Kenyan Socialist dictator alive and the besieged heroes of American patriotism are outnumbered and will be outgunned when Obama seizes their weapons, Obamacare will kill every member of your family assuming they haven’t committed suicide after it bankrupted them, Benghazi was worse than 9/11, Iraq and the 1962 Mets combined and the IRS only hates the brave and fierce Republican Party. Who are the only ones that can keep you safe against the fifth column of baby-killing Hollywood liberals that will brainwash your son into marrying a barnyard animal.

(Also remarkable is however much you try to lampoon their cray-cray, they’re inevitably more out there than even a parodist can dream of).

Flip on any of these mediums and this is what you get and if I know this in advance, so do their fans and they like it that way. Like a soothing wash of a New Age mixtape in the foyer of a yoga studio.Except that the whoosh of the mixtape is familiar in form and not content.

Nope, the real parallel between the RW Entertainment Complex and its musical equivalent would be the aging classic rock dinosaurs of the 70’s and 80’s and the state fair/shitty casino/low rent rally circuit. Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly, the battery of Sunday morning news show dildolatry and especially the Mega MILF of Moosery Sarah Palin are completely and totally identical to the slog it out warriors of faceless corporate FM rock–Foreigner, Journey, Styx, Nightranger and REO Speedwagon.

Think about it–what do Kevin Cronin (REO), Mick Jones (Foreigner, not the Clash’s Mick Jones) and whomever is left in the other bands do for a living? They mount the boards and play their hits–period. And vamoose off to the next hellhole whose main fiscal purpose at this point is alimony, child support and back taxes. 12 tunes, maybe, paycheck and screw. They try not to think about their better days, one imagines, and just do their jobs–which consist now of rote recitation. In that, they are exactly like Palin or Glenn Beck–who hit all the talking points, massage the prejudices of their chosen audience and remind them that only they understand their plight (and then batter them with ads for merchandise and books). Like peas in a pod.  

Except that at one time, these bands were cranking out hit songs and even if you don’t like their hits, writing a hit is hard to do. Regurgitating “the best of Joe McCarthy” only replacing “Communists” with “Muslims” or “libs” is all these verbal midgets need do to cash in. “Hot Blooded” or “Don’t Let Him Go” or “Babe” may sound trite and brittle and overwrought to some, but they had to be concocted, recorded with care and sung in tune. That is a hell of a lot more than these repulsive mountebanks on the right are capable of. 

(And there is, of course, the gent that straddles both worlds with ham-handed, blockheaded glory, the Nuge himself–except he’s third on the bill beneath REO and Styx this summer and is but a mere guest on FOX at best. Sorry, Ted).

Lastly, the rock bands who are on rickety stages this summer outside Lincoln NE or Bakersfield or Dothan Alabama next to livestock and ferris wheels are fucking honest men and women. They travel endless hours for vastly less pay than they used to get. They have seen their expected annuities disappear via digital downloading and YouTube. They look into the smaller crowds and see their reflections in the once fist pumping but now worn looking fans. And they still have enough pride to deliver the goods, because that’s what they do–not chauffered from their expensive mansions to TV and radio studios to spew out the party line that has been focus group and poll tested to perfection. And then home to mansion. I may not like the dino bands but I respect ’em–I have no respect for these reactionary carny barkers at all.