Bob Cesca wrote an astounding piece for The Huffington Post
on April 21st, about the televangelist, Glenn Beck.
During yesterday's Glenn Beck radio show, Beck delivered a 10-minute monologue in which he hit all of his phony-baloney touchstones -- some of them, as I've been writing for the last several weeks, are dangerous and some are simply ridiculous. But primarily, Beck was in full televangelist mode about God and something about a "plan" and, in the process, he dovetailed into a little McCarthyism and, as usual, a little historical revisionism. He even shrunk into a defensive bit refuting the accusations that he's a faker who's conning his audience.
Now, before you listen to this epic clip courtesy of Media Matters, I should warn you to turn down your speakers, because the over-the-top levels of audio compression and EQ on Beck's voice (say nothing of the half-dozen or so Beck sound-alikes who also occupy his studio) will absolutely blow out your speakers.
Most radio stations employ some sort of digital processing to make the host or disc jockey sound more resonant, but I've never heard a talk show with this much compression. Clearly, the BOOM! is there to enhance Beck's voice in a way that augments his level of psychological persuasion -- the deeper, diaphragm-vibrating low end increases the physical connection between Beck and his audience. A more subconscious aspect of his scam.
The overarching theme of this monologue is that God is speaking directly to Glenn Beck and giving him the plan. It's classic televangelism, which is commonly seen as nothing more than an exploitation of religious naiveté with the goal of making the televangelist rich. Listen to me. I have the answers. Because God is speaking to me. So give generously if you want to hear what God's plan is.
Right off the bat, there's the very recognizable televangelist delivery. You'll notice the characteristic melodrama and pathos -- the theatrical tone of voice. The pregnant pauses, the slight quiver in the voice and, as I mentioned, the artificially-enhanced resonance. These are all acting techniques we recognize from infamous televangelists like Oral Roberts, Jim Bakker, Pat Robertson, Jimmy Swaggart -- not to mention the even more nefarious Benny Hinn faith healer school of persuasive speaking and gimmickry.
As for the content, it's always simultaneously vague and grandiose. He describes a lot of his crazy theories, which we often see illustrated as fact on his chalk board, as things that he's "felt but didn't understand." Or as Stephen Colbert once said, "Anyone can read the news to you. I promise to feel the news at you."
Cesca details Beck's act and points out the idiocy. It amazes me that people find Beck to be educational and inspirational, especially after things like this:
Now, see if you can figure this one out. Beck says in his monologue, "Do not accept coincidence in your life. Look for the answers of your life -- look for your answers in your life through coincidence. Because there's no such thing as coincidence." It sounds as though he's saying, there's no such thing as coincidence, but look for the answers in your life through coincidence. Okay, so is there coincidence or not?
I'm sure that if you were to question Beck supporters, they would defend him on his comments, and if you listened to Beck's program, Beck himself predicts people will attack him over these comments, and tries to preemptively dismiss such attacks. Why would he do such a thing unless he knows his comments are blatantly idiotic? This is classic Beck. Make a statement and attack the opposition before they even are aware of the statement. That way, Beck will seem to be some sort of prophet to his supporters, cementing his position as a leader of the fringe...
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