THE BLOG
11/20/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Beck Off!

I'll puncture my own theorem by stating the following:

Unless we make a real effort to detach ourselves from the throbbing data-teat, the one that oozes garish, incendiary, pseudofacts from every beeping, blipping electronic device in our homes, cars and pockets 24 hours a day, grade-A schmucks like Glenn Beck will thrive.

Which I cannot seem to do myself, hence my punctured theorem.

But since my screeds have about as much of a readership as the fine print on a sleeve of Saltines, I'll risk contributing to the flow of blood to Beck's particular brand of tumor.

He's ascended the summit of our pop consciousness, his mewling pus on the cover of Time, caricatured in the New York Times, quoted and referenced, on his way to becoming a pop idiom: "So and so's pulled a Beck!" "That guy upped and Becked himself!" "I've been royally Becked!"

Once the low-rent producer of handheld, fish-eyed vlogs from his hospital bed in which he bemoaned the sorry state of the very health care which he now defends as the greatest on Earth (He's got a buttload of cash now. Of course the world's a beautiful place!), now he struts and quivers amidst an impressive array of digital effects and gripping chyrons, his delivery a sarcastic, tonal roller coaster with as much potential to make the rider throw up as scream "wheeee!"

Like the proverbial light in the refrigerator (I can't quite cite the proverb itself, not a problem really where volume passes for veracity) he only exists if he's seen (or, unavoidably in his case, heard). The sum of his instantly disposable parts, he himself would have no shelf life were it not for the steady stream of invective-laced paranoid pap which is gulped down by his truth-parched viewers, who seemingly can never get enough.

And judging by some of the actions spurred on by Beck's (and his equally seditious confederates) these viewers must have tapeworms in their brains, gorging on Beck's nutrition-free output without gaining a single IQ point.

Beck is only the latest exploiter of TV's power to persuade. A combination of Budd Schulberg's tragi-manic Lonesome Rhodes and the early '70s appliance huckster Crazy Eddie, whose comically exuberant rants were a staple of local New York television, Beck captures the audience's attention with amped up carny techniques, hawking a rotating inventory of cheaply constructed -- and utterly refutable -- paranoid polemics.

Talk about people out to getcha. Wanna do something about boogie men and Big Brother? Wanna improve your world? Wanna go back to the way things were? Hell -- wanna do something patriotic?

Turn him off.