Superhero For The Week Of November 4: George Carlin
This is another in what will hopefully, through the winter, be a series of posts on people who IMHO quality for superhero status in our culture.
These posts are not awards or rewards or anything like that. They are just mini profiles about some of the people I have come to admire, who are or were working to change the world for the better.
I remember first seeing George Carlin on the Tonight Show back when it belonged to Johnny Carson.
I remember him being both extremely clever and a bit sarcastic at the same time. As his career advanced and his popularity grew, his situational comedy turned more and more into social commentary, which led me to believe that that was his objective all along.
In America, you can only get away with that shit if you are extremely popular and becoming an almost regular and sometime substitute host on the Tonight Show gave him that popularity.
Carlin almost put a lot of his comedy onto records and later into books, and was one of the most successful comedians at this. We owned several of his albums back in the day, and it was amazing just how, to quote my pal Dean Rayner, ‘listenable againable’ he was.
And while I was a solid fan of his intelligent brand of comedy, I became a much bigger fan as he moved into the area of social criticism.
His full on attacks on religion, censorship, capitalism, consumerism and just about anything else you could think of, really opened my eyes to the world around me in an almost painful way. But at the same time, he did it with a kind of cleverness that endeared him to his audience and even though it would have been easy to take his vitriol as insulting, the majority of his audience never really did.
As time went by he became a genuine culture hero for a lot of people my age. Mainly because he confirmed a lot of the belief we had, and made us realize that we weren’t being overly cynical, just seeing what was really going on out there.
And for that I will be eternally grateful.
George Carlin passed away in 2008. Quite a bit sooner than he should have I guess. But in his time here got famous for a lot of good reasons, created his share of controversy, and, I believe, also made it possible for a whole new generation of ‘woke’ comics like Bill Barr and Sam Kinneson, to find an audience and flourish.
The last thing I remember about George Carlin, was seeing an interview he did with Jon Stewart, in which he admitted that the reason he was able to be the social critic that he was, was because he got himself out of the headspace of a participant and into the headspace of a close observer, which meant he wasn’t so much giving his opinion as he was reporting on what he was seeing and hearing out there in the crazy fucked up world that we have all created.
And ask George once said….it’s a dirty job, but somebody’s gotta do it.
You can read more about George Carlin here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Carlin
You can find other posts in this series on my beBee.com publisher page:
Jim Murray is an experienced advertising and marketing professional and amateur photographer. He has run his own strategic and creative consulting business (Onwords & Upwords), since 1989 after a 20 year career in Toronto as a senior creative person in major Canadian & international advertising agencies. He is a communication strategist, writer, art director, broadcast producer, prolific marketing & op/ed blogger & beBee Brand Ambassador.
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