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Real Time Throw Down…

Last week’s airing of Real Time with Bill Maher brought together the passionate, yet varied minds of Salman Rushdie, Mos Def, and Christopher Hitchens.

Things seemed mellow enough for a while. There was some back and forth on Obama’s decisions regarding Afghanistan and -to Bill’s extreme dismay- his reaction to a question about legalizing drugs. Salman was all dignified and brilliant, as usual. Hitchens joined the panel halfway through, along with a half-empty glass of scotch. Mos Def offered up some rather interesting and hilarious insights, including, but not limited to: likening Gov. Bobby Jindal to the kid on the cover of Mad Magazine, saying that the media portrays Bin Laden less like a threat and more like Rasputin, looking straight into the camera and, with feigned panic, asserting that conservatives’ paranoia about Obama coming for their guns is justified (joking, obviously).

“Your worst fears are coming true! He gonna take away your freedom! He gonna take your daughters! He gonna legalize weed! He gonna have casual Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, every day! It’s over!”

Haa… Anyway… they finished the panel time, Bill did his New Rules. The end.

And then… this happened:

Now, Real Time has never had a reputation for being sedated. And tension between guests has certainly occurred in the past. But this felt different to me… loaded, personal… maybe -dare I say it- mean?

Mos Def says some wild shit during this appearance, as he has in past appearances. He is a practicing Muslim, so on a panel of atheists, things are bound to get a little touchy. But I don’t find him to be ignorant, as much as I find him incredibly skeptical. If you get beyond the hyperbole of his statements, which -let’s get real- are at least half for the sake of humor and entertainment, you see that he’s not just a crazy conspiracy theorist.

How do you put your faith in a political system -really, any system- that has, in your eyes, done more to destroy opportunity than create it? All he’s really saying is that the threat of terrorism isn’t any more terrifying to him than the threat he feels on the inside -be it racial, social or economical- from the very institution that is meant to keep him safe. It’s like the big fish telling the little fish to beware of the shark, right before he swallows the little fish whole.

Now Hitch has a brilliant and provocative mind, for sure. But if you’ve ever seen him speak, like EVER… you also know that he’s an arrogant prick too. But even this surprised me. “Mr. Definitely”…? I mean, that had to be a dig, right? And he was basically calling Def stupid, without ever actually saying the words.

As a moderator/comedian/emboldened private citizen, Bill is usually pretty convivial toward his guests, both conservative and liberal, even when his audience is not. And I think Hitch’s attitude surprised him.

But maybe he was right. Maybe it was just the scotch talking. Thoughts…?

2 thoughts on “Real Time Throw Down…”

  1. Jamie says:

    I was lucky enough to catch this one at a hotel in San Francisco, and it felt like watching a train wreck.

    I think the booze was the major driver. Hitch was hammered, having trouble keeping his eyes open, and he was absolutely being an arrogant ass. He COMPLETELY missed the point of Mos Def’s Obama-boogeyman rant (from earlier in the program).

    But let’s not let Mos Def completely off the hook here, brilliant as he is. I think his unwillingness to listen to Salman Rushdie, a man who KNOWS this shit, was frustrating. He kept interrupting Rushdie’s answer to his question by asking for someone to answer his question. He defended stupid points, losing smart ones along the way.

    In the end, just a good old fashioned culture clash. Mos was on the ropes, he got defensive, and everyone ended up trying to salvage their ego and win the fight instead of the debate. The only one who really ended up looking good was Salman Rushdie, who had the writerly good sense to just stop trying to talk around the three-thirty mark.

  2. Jamie says:

    I was lucky enough to catch this one at a hotel in San Francisco, and it felt like watching a train wreck.

    I think the booze was the major driver. Hitch was hammered, having trouble keeping his eyes open, and he was absolutely being an arrogant ass. He COMPLETELY missed the point of Mos Def’s Obama-boogeyman rant (from earlier in the program).

    But let’s not let Mos Def completely off the hook here, brilliant as he is. I think his unwillingness to listen to Salman Rushdie, a man who KNOWS this shit, was frustrating. He kept interrupting Rushdie’s answer to his question by asking for someone to answer his question. He defended stupid points, losing smart ones along the way.

    In the end, just a good old fashioned culture clash. Mos was on the ropes, he got defensive, and everyone ended up trying to salvage their ego and win the fight instead of the debate. The only one who really ended up looking good was Salman Rushdie, who had the writerly good sense to just stop trying to talk around the three-thirty mark.

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