In a new Will Ferrell comedy sketch, the comedian and a 2-year-old girl have a heated argument:
Girl: Where’s the rent?
Ferrell: You don’t have to raise your voice.
Girl: You pay now!
Ferrell: I can give you half.
Girl: You pay now, bitch! [...]
Ferrell: You need to relax.
Girl: You’re an asshole!
Girl: I want my money, bitch!
Ferrell: (yelling) Don’t call me “bitch,” I’m a grown man!
Girl: Bitch, bitch, bitch, bitch.
The video segment was displayed prominently on FoxNews.com, which asked, “Comedy or Tragedy? Did Will Ferrell’s Profane Comedy Bit Hurt Little Girl?”
Never mind that clicking the link (portrayed as news) led to a recent segment from the Fair & Balanced™ “O’Reilly Factor.” Never mind, also, that the girl in the innocence-stealing clip is in danger of being “hurt” only by swearwords.
The important thing to know is that Mr. O’Reilly is having a genuine debate about this. Bill says, “Did actor/comedian Will Ferrell damage a 2-year-old girl by putting her into a comedy bit? [...] Now, last Friday, Geraldo and I disagreed about this” (emphasis his).
O’Reilly emphasizes “damage” and “Geraldo” as if they’re both of the utmost importance. Oh, Geraldo! You had a discussion with Geraldo? The Geraldo, the one who gave away secret locations of U.S. soldiers in Iraq? Big problems are always solved when these two are on the case.
According to O’Reilly, the clip has been seen “millions of times” (now including, of course, on O’Reilly’s wholesome show). We are asked if Will Ferrell “exploited” this child, an especially important query because über-journalist Bill O’Reilly wants to know. However, there are other pressing matters at hand. First, a setup.
I attended a local minor minor (minor?) league ballgame over the weekend. Near me was the real-life incarnation of Homer Simpson, along with is son, Bart (complete with frightening overbite). The man did nothing but heckle the opposing team’s players, often idiotically: He repeatedly derided opposing pitchers for being “bad,” which, if true, would actually have been good for his team’s hitters.
Regardless, Mr. Simpson had clearly instilled important lessons about sportsmanship to his lone follower, his overbitten son. Often, after the kid launched a pint-sized verbal assault on an opposing player, the boy received an approving thumbs-up from his pear-shaped, gape-mouthed father.
Our real-life Homer Simpson’s IPM (Insults Per Minute) ratio might even approach Mr. O’Reilly’s record of 8.8 (that is, an insult every 6.8 seconds). Fortunately, the bleacher-bound blowhard’s hotheadedness had no damaging effect on the more sensible people who were unfairly subjected to his show. The only victim was his target audience, the impressionable boy.
Now, back to the esteemed Bill O’Reilly. I’m sure that nobody emulates him the way a child will emulate his (ignorant, belly-rubbing, insult-tossing) parent. Nope, not any one of the 40 percent of Americans who call the insult-spraying O’Reilly a “journalist.” (Compare that to the meager 30 percent bestowing that title on Pulitzer-winner Bob Woodward.)
Never mind that the little girl in the video is obviously in no physical danger. Never mind that we live in an age where most of our kids are exposed to cursing as soon as they can read, thanks to the Internet. Never mind that Bill O’Reilly is no less offensive than the average bad sportsman/mal-influence father/Homer Simpson, and never mind that O’Reilly and FoxNews are just “exploiting” the little girl further by broadcasting the comedy bit to millions of Internets and TV viewers.
The important thing, as O’Reilly points out, is to ask is whether the comedian Will Ferrell hurt, damaged, or exploited that innocent child. According to the pundit, Ferrell is wrong to have hurt that little girl. He can’t do that. It’s immoral. He’s not a Journalist like Bill O’Reilly.
Don’t bother counting the number of times that FoxNews.com has broadcast this “exploitive” clip (or any other more disgusting clip, like kids beating up homeless people). Don’t bother scouring previous episodes of “The Factor” for anything potentially or remotely “profane,” and don’t even question the irony that the O’Reillys of the world are the same people who’d say that “Guns don’t hurt people, people hurt people,” and yet they insist that a comedy bit can turn a little girl into damaged goods.
I wonder: Would O’Reilly allow these bad parents to make a life-saving medical decision for their daughter? They’ve already hurt her by not offering shelter from swearwords.
Personally, I’d like to give a shout out to Will Ferrell. Hey Will, I don’t have any interest in hurting little kids (or hiring them as actors, for that matter), but if you can ever figure out a way to actually injure people by way of a “comedy bit,” please share the formula. An innovation like that might prove useful in our remote-access society.
With some luck, maybe this here rant will punch Bill O’Reilly in the face.