Home Pop Culture Bill Maher Milo Yiannopoulos: The art of the spectacle

Bill Maher Milo Yiannopoulos: The art of the spectacle

Bill Maher Milo Yiannopoulos
Bill Maher Milo Yiannopoulos as they appeared on HBO's 'Real Time'.
Bill Maher Milo Yiannopoulos
Bill Maher Milo Yiannopoulos as they appeared on HBO’s ‘Real Time’.

Bill Maher Milo Yiannopoulos HBO’s ‘Real Time’ show puts two provocateurs side by side as they explored notions of freedom of speech, trolling along with some fireworks. 

Friday night saw the ‘interesting’ spectacle of two self avowed provocateurs, Bill Maher and his ‘impish, faggy, charming’ guest Milo Yiannopoulos politely sparring on HBO’s ‘Real Time’.

Except by the end of the show one was left wondering if what they really had witnessed was a sincere intellectual (god forbid) debating of each other’s points of views or the pacification of controversial points of views interspersed with wit, charm and the ability to emotionally ingratiate/flummox viewers.

Yes looks and charm go a long way, sometimes making nonsense remarks (gays are trouble makers, all druggies and late to work- thanks Milo) momentarily plausible until one realizes that such remarks are prefaced by contradictory sensibilities and more to do with getting a rise- than actually validating ideas and what may actually take place in the real world.

Then again what goes on in the real world is so often one’s perception of the world and using their cultural prism and experiences to justify or denounce other’s prism of experience.

But that’s perhaps what we mean by free speech in 2017, the ability to say as one pleases and feel vindicated to offend and confront views, ideas and facts that would cause the rational amongst us to wince.  

But then again this is HBO. This is cable TV and importantly Bill Maher and Milo Yiannopoulos are there to entertain us, and shock us (would we watch otherwise?) no matter how much we crave rational discourse with facts and numbers to support interviewees or hosts’ claims.

Told the HBO comedian as the bangles and beads senior Breitbart editor measured the pulse of the audience: ‘I think you’re colossally wrong on a number of things. But if I banned everyone from my show who I thought was colossally wrong, I would be talking to myself.’

The comment came after pundits had earlier on in the week cringed with the announcement that the conservative parody of ideas and ‘noxious’ troll would serve to delegitimize Maher or worse normalize the devout troller as an everyday man’s choice menu item.

But then again, at least both ‘provocateurs’ could agree that one should be open to expressing ideas and views that one might find unpalatable if not for the sake of engaging discourse.

‘All I care about is free speech and free expression,’  Yiannopoulos explained. ‘I want people to be able to be, do and say anything. These days, you’re right, that’s a conservative issue.’

Tell that to the Intercept’s Jeremy Scahill who upon finding out that Milo would be on the show decided to withdraw his appearance, tweeting in part: He has ample venues to spew his hateful diatribes, there is no value in ‘debating’ him.’

To which Maher rightfully responded, ‘If Mr. Yiannopoulos is indeed the monster Scahill claims — and he might be — nothing could serve the liberal cause better than having him exposed on Friday night.’

Bill Maher Milo Yiannopoulos
Bill Maher Milo Yiannopoulos appearing on HBO’s Real Time.

From there, Milo was soon in full form, taking an umbrage with gays, ‘they’re not to be employed, they’re sex starved druggies who come to work late’ (was he serious or just joking?) before moving on to his curt regard of  feminist comedians, Amy Schumer and Sarah Silverman, while describing the Democrats as the ‘party of the Lena Dunham’.

Explained the right wing provocateur: ‘Im a virtuous troll, I hurt people for a reason’

‘I want to police humor because they can’t control it’

‘Because the one thing that authoritarians hate is the sound of laughter’.

Added Maher ‘And also, because when people laugh, they know it’s true.’

To which Yiannopolous replied, ‘Nothing annoys people, or amuses people, like the truth.’

Bill Maher Milo Yiannopoulos HBO Real Time
Bill Maher Milo Yiannopoulos HBO Real Time. Guest panelists included, from left to right, Malcom Nance, Larry Wilmore and Jack Kingston.

It’s when Bill and Milo moved on to the panel discussion when things really began to degenerate, with Milo openly criticizing the members of the panel as being stupid, and that Maher ‘needs to start inviting higher IQ guests’.

In response to his calling dedicated counter terrorism official Malcom Nance and former Georgia representative Jack Kingston on the show’s panel ‘stupid’ guest panelist, comedian Larry Wilmore took Milo’s bait (after Bill Maher had moments before warned the audience to not take the bait) when he spewed a series of fxck you’s to Milo as Milo nonchalantly smiled on, having bagged another one in his trap.

So much for intellectual discourse and the free speech that both Bill and Milo had promised us.

The shit show comes off the back of Milo having erupted fury at UC Berkely after protesters blocked a planned speech he was meant to give, arguing that his version of free speech serves to engender hate and violent actions. Could one argue the same of the liberal class as well?

Looking at the delicious mess in front of him and ever the star wit man, Maher motioned over to Milo, telling the happy go lucky media sensation, ‘this is the beginning of your career, people are only just starting to hate you.’

Or perhaps love him ….