“Please don’t turn the Olympics into Oscars,” pleaded Bill Maher in his New Rules end-of-show monologue when Real Time returns to HBO tonight after a month-long hiatus.
Last April, as he reminded audiences, he said that the theme for this year’s Oscars show was, “We challenge you to entertain yourself. Its producers, he complained, seemed determined not to let the public forget for a single moment the injustices and shortcomings of the human condition.
The Tokyo Summer Games, according to Maher, surpassed Hollywood. He spoke of a series of cases where creative officials and staff have faced the consequences of decades-old behavior. In one case, the music director for the opening ceremony was ousted following a 1994 interview in which he admitted to bullying fellow students as a child at school. “Remember when your teacher was trying to scare you, he would say, ‘You know, this is going to be on your permanent record,'” he said. “It’s not an empty threat now.”
He also ridiculed the media coverage of surfing becoming an Olympic sport in Tokyo. The Associated Press – not exactly a militant left-wing media – wrote that surfing the Games exacerbates cultural appropriation and “racial indignities.” This is because non-Hawaiians have popularized and mainstreamed a sport with deep spiritual and community significance to its original participants. The title of the article described the competition as a “whitewashed” event.
While the jokes still flowed and the opening moments of the segment seemed fairly fluid, Maher’s tone was sharp and his arguments more urgent than most weeks. (It could have been the host’s new glasses, which he unveiled in the opening minutes of the show, calling them a new permanent accessory. In a sort of teaser for the “New Rules” segment, he joked , “They have progressive lenses. When I put them on, I only see white privilege.”)
“It’s called a purge,” Maher said of the climate in the United States and increasingly elsewhere. “It’s a mentality that belongs to Stalin’s Russia. How bad this atmosphere we live in has to be before people who say culture cancellation is exaggerated have to admit that it is, in fact, world-engulfing madness.
As for accusations that his position means he has moved further to the political right (a place on the spectrum given to reflexive denunciation of the culture of cancellation), Maher said: “My politics have failed. not changed, but I react to the policy that has changed. “
The news coming out of the Olympics, he continued, “yet another example of how the revival has reversed the very thing that made liberals liberals. “Snitches and bitches” is not being liberal. “
Maher admitted that “most of human history is a horror story,” but said the notion of keeping cultures and communities in silos interferes with one of the main positives of the life. “The good parties are the groups that come together and share. In a way, that’s the whole point of the Olympic Games, ”he said.
Even the concept of the Olympics itself, he pointed out, was adapted from the Greeks. He swept aside sports and their origins, including badminton in India, tennis in France, taekwondo in Korea. “What’s this new rule that the first to do something is the only one to have it ?!” he wondered.
He concluded with a condemnation of hypervigilance over cultural appropriation, although he said there are legitimate cases. “Stealing the natural resources of indigenous peoples – yes, of course, that is exploitation,” he said.
At the same time, he insisted, “It’s not all about oppression.
Cultural exchange can also work in other directions, he argued. K-pop groups like BTS have become popular in the United States by making catchy pop music for Western ears, not by playing traditional Korean songs in the style of their ancestors.
“We live in a world where straight actors are told they cannot play homosexual roles and where white novelists are not allowed to imagine what it is like to be a Mexican immigrant,” he said. Maher said. “Even though trying to inhabit someone else’s life is almost the definition of empathy, the foundation of liberalism.”