For the first time in a long time, Hank Williams Jr. and all his rowdy friends were not there on Monday night.
ESPN relieved the country singer of his crooning duties at the start of Monday Night Football because of comments he made about President Barack Obama on Fox and Friends. Fox, clearly having a slow news day, had Williams on discussing Obama playing golf alongside House Speaker John Boehner, which prompted Williams to use the go to move in the “Douchebags Discussing Politics” playbook – comparing those you don’t agree with to Hitler.
Williams said that Obama and Boehner teaming up on the golf course was “one of the biggest political mistakes ever,” adding, “That’d be like Hitler playing golf with (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu.”
Williams later backpeddled a bit and apologized, trying to explain that he was simply attempting to make a point about two rich guys with opposing political ideologies teaming up to play golf while the working class in this country continues to get ignored.
“Working-class people are hurting – and it doesn’t seem like anybody cares,” Williams later said. “When both sides are high-fiving it on the ninth hole when everybody else is without a job – it makes a whole lot of us angry. Something has to change. The policies have to change.”
I’m not going to attempt to break down Williams’ comments or throw in my two cents on whether he is right or wrong. Despite his later statements, I’m not going to attempt to get inside his head and figure out why he thought it was a good idea to compare Obama to Hitler. To me, the bigger question is: Why was he talking about this on television in the first place?
Who thought we cared what Hank Williams Jr. has to say about politics? Why did that seem like a good idea? Who thought I respected his opinion on anything other than whether the two teams about to take the field were or were not “ready for some football”?
We had a good thing going, me and ol’ Hank. He’d put on his cowboy hat and warble on about the two teams getting ready to face off on the gridiron and I’d pretend like the whole thing wasn’t ridiculous. It worked. But Hank had to go and muddle things up by sharing his political views with the world.
I really wish celebrities would stop feeling the need to tell us all how they feel about politics. To me it always seems like a dicey proposition. Especially with singers. It’s arrogant to think your fans care about your political views. Besides, you risk alienating people who like your music but don’t agree with your ideology.
(This is also true with actors, though at least they are playing characters on TV and in movies, so we can attempt to divorce the actor from the character they play. This always worked for me with David Schwimmer and Jason Alexander, who both played characters I loved on television, but are both insufferable in real life.)
Now, there are certain singers who are overtly political. They write political songs that have an agenda. At least with those singers, you know what you are getting when you go to one of their concerts. If you buy a ticket to see them live, for better or for worse, you know what you are signing up for. If you pay to see U2 in concert, you know you are going to have to listen to Bono talk about saving the world and hear anecdotes about how awesome and selfless he is. It’s part of the shtick at this point, along with the light show and the sunglasses indoors.
But if you are going to see someone mainstream whose poppy music you enjoy, being forced to listen to his or her political ramblings seems unfair. I paid 80 bucks to see you sing “Poker Face” and to wear a slutty meat dress, Lady Gaga, not to hear your insights on our dependency on foreign oil.
The biggest problem is that political discussions in this country have become insufferable. We all agree that things aren’t great in right now, but trying to figure out how to fix it leads to heated debates involving Hitler comparisons and petty insults. Often times, even if you actually agree with a point a pundit makes, the person making the point is so insufferable that you feel slimy for agreeing with them.
Seriously, I don’t care what side of the debate you are on – Bill O’Reilly is a blowhard. So is Bill Maher. So is Glenn Beck. And Keith Olbermann. And Ann Coulter and Michael Moore and everyone else who goes on TV and shouts their opinions. I don’t want to hear what any of them think.
I try to avoid political talk shows. For me, the only thing they are good for is inducing migraines. I watch television and listen to music as an escape. I don’t need those actors and musicians mucking things up by talking to me about politics.
That’s not to say that I don’t have political opinions or care about what’s happening in this country. I have plenty of thoughts on the state of this nation. I just like all of you too much to share those opinions with you.
Joel Murphy is the creator of HoboTrashcan, which is probably why he has his own column. He loves pugs, hates Jimmy Fallon and has an irrational fear of robots. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.