Newspaper logo  
 
 
   Mark Crispin Miller's Operation American Freedom: He's a Stand-Up Kind of Guy

PERFORMANCE REVIEW:

Mark Crispin Miller's Operation American Freedom: He's a Stand-Up Kind of Guy

by Elissa Thomas

Last weekend (Sept. 12-13), folks flocked to the Creative Alliance's Patterson Theater to see media critic Mark Crispin Miller in his stand-up/educational performance entitled "Operation American Freedom."

Not Miller, but President George W. Bush opened the show with a brief clip saying, "Many others have met a different fate. Let's put it this way: they are no longer a problem for the United States."

The audience was laughing from the start, and Miller kept the crowd entertained throughout the show with well-paced, intelligent comedy, discussing things that weren't really so funny. The media critic delivered his points in droll deadpan, only a few times cracking a smile.

Miller continually referred to short excerpts of speeches delivered, or rather, stumbled over, by George W. Bush. After several such quotes, Miller paused, waited for the laughs to subside, and asked: "How can this happen?!" And: "Does anyone else in the United States notice the insanity of what the President says at official press conferences? Am I losing my mind?"

He also read transcripts of interviews with Gordon Liddy and Barbara Bush, emphasizing the national epidemic of incoherent speech and fractured logic evident in statements by high-ranking Americans-statements which go unremarked in the media.

. At one point, Miller read a George Bush quote from Bush's well-publicized visit to Africa. Bush had said, "It's very interesting when you think about it, the slaves who left here to go to America--" here Miller paused and looked searchingly at the audience for a reaction. "They left Africa," repeated Miller, pausing for emphasis and shaking his head at the careless, inaccurate and utterly nonsensical wording to describe the Middle Passage events. He continued Bush's statement: "--bringing their religion, their steadfast, and their freedom to help change America."

"We all know how many animistic churches dot the Southern countryside," quipped Miller. "And who would have thought that-while the Polish imported Kielbasa to America-we never thought about how the slaves brought freedom." Miller encouraged the audience to repeat the quote phrase by phrase. The words spoken aloud in a chorus sounded even more ridiculous and illogical than when pronounced by Miller, and could not have made any sense spoken by the President in the context of an official press conference.

One of Miller's main points was that the media spreads the madness of public officials by not pointing out the contradictions, equivocations, and downright falsehoods uttered in interviews and press conferences. He inquired if any mainstream American journalists had closely scrutinized the President's speeches and exposed his bizarre syntax. Instead, he pointed out how FoxNews reporters applauded George W. Bush for his eloquence and "manliness." The complicity of the "liberal media"-Miller held up his fingers to make quotation marks in the air-allow the presidential administrations to distort facts, mangle logic, and deploy propaganda successfully, unchallenged by the journalists who are supposed to serve the public good.

There is no official repression of freedom of speech, Miller pointed out; instead, disinformation works in a more sophisticated way. He went on to describe the structure of a successful lie. "You don't deny anything," Miller said, pointing to failed lies such as Nixon's "I am not a crook" plea. Instead, the officials "work the denial into a positive statement." The slogan for the US Army is "Be all that you can be in the Army." Not, "your chances are 50/50 that you'll die in service." Miller pointed out that advertisers have been using this strategy of spin for decades. They "tacitly negate" the unpopular aspects of a product, while emphasizing positive attributes that may or may not even be true.

Miller ended his performance with a reminder that "the cost of freedom is eternal vigilance." He urged all those present to take it upon themselves to spread truth, to pester Congressmen and journalists, and-most of all-not give up.

"Act like you believe in something," exhorted Miller, "because you do!"


Mark Crispin Miller teaches media studies at New York University. He formerly taught at The Johns Hopkins University. He recently established a blog; visit markcrispinmiller.blogspot.com/.


Copyright © 2003 The Baltimore Chronicle and The Sentinel. All rights reserved. We invite your comments, criticisms and suggestions.

Republication or redistribution of Baltimore Chronicle and Sentinel content is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.

This story was published on September 19, 2003.
  
Local Stories, Events

Ref. : Civic Events

Ref. : Arts & Education Events

Ref. : Public Service Notices

Books, Films, Arts & Education
Letters

Ref. : Letters to the editor

Health Care & Environment

04.25 Canada oil sands CO2 emissions hugely underestimated: study

04.25 North American drilling boom threatens major blow to climate efforts – report

04.24 It took just one acre to grow faith in organic farming

04.24 Greta Thunberg teaches us about autism as much as climate change

04.23 To stop global catastrophe, we must believe in humans again

04.23 Melting permafrost in Arctic will have $70tn climate impact – study

04.23 US threatens to veto UN resolution on rape as weapon of war, officials say [“Stupid is as stupid does.” –Forrest Gump]

04.21 Trump and impeachment: where Democrats stand after Mueller

04.21 Dutch engineers build world's biggest sun-seeking solar farm [A replacement for lost Arctic ice?]

04.21 We’re altering the climate so severely that we’ll soon face apocalyptic consequences. Here are 9 last-ditch ways we could hack the planet to reverse that trend.[Hail Mary pass ideas]

04.18 'We Can Be Whatever We Have the Courage to See': New Video From AOC Envisions a #GreenNewDeal Future [7:35 video]

04.18 'Decades of denial': major report finds New Zealand's environment is in serious trouble

04.17 Thawing Permafrost Emitting Higher Levels of Potent Greenhouse Gas Than Previously Thought: Study

04.16 'That Backfired': Watch Bernie Sanders Counter Right-Wing Talking Point, Make Case for Medicare for All on Fox News

04.16 Cause of cancer is written into DNA of tumours, scientists find, creating a 'black box' for origin of disease

04.16 Scientists Unveil World's First Human Heart 3D-Printed From Patients' Own Cells

04.15 What It Was Like to Have a Baby in Sweden

04.14 'Shut the country down': British climate group Extinction Rebellion heads to US

04.13 With Youth Climate Actions Backed by Leading Experts, Latest Round of Protests Highlights Call for Bold and Urgent Action

04.11 Will You Rise Up for Climate Justice Next Week? Don’t Let Fatalism and Cynicism Hold You Back

04.11 300+ Groups to Congress: #GreenNewDeal 'Must Transform Our Food System and Revitalize Rural America'

04.10 Glaciers and arctic ice are vanishing. Time to get radical before it's too late [Willfully ignorant "conservatives" and corporately-bribed liberals diddle self-obsessively while life on earth dies]

04.10 Is there a beautiful, briny solution to the world’s clean water crisis?

News Media Matters

04.24 Russiagate was journalist QAnon (Part 1) [humor]

Daily: FAIR Blog
The Daily Howler

US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'

04.25 Andy McKean, Iowa’s Longest-Serving Republican, Switches Parties Because of Trump

04.25 3 men invited a widow to sit with them when they saw her eating alone. Their Facebook post went viral. [Nice.]

04.24 The Great Republican Abdication

04.23 'A Really Exciting Proposal': Elizabeth Warren's Education Overhaul Would Wipe Out Student Debt, Provide Free Public College

04.23 To Reassert Congressional War Authority, Sanders Demands Vote to Override Trump Veto on Yemen

04.21 Trump's moral squalor, not impeachment, will remove him from power

04.21 Pentagon Spending Set to Hit Near-Record Levels, But 'Establishment Says We Can't Afford' Progressive Policies

Justice Matters

04.25 House oversight chairman cites 'massive' obstruction by Trump, Barr

04.25 White supremacist to be executed for dragging black man to death behind his truck

04.23 BALTIMORE POLICE TRIED TO KILL KEITH DAVIS JR. PROSECUTORS HAVE BEEN TRYING TO CONVICT HIM OF MURDER EVER SINCE.

04.21 In Ruling on Coal Mining, Federal Judge Issues Latest Rebuke of Trump's Attack on Public Lands

High Crimes

04.24 Nothing to See Here: The U.S. Government Prevents Investigations Into War Crimes in Afghanistan

Economics & Corrupt Capitalism

04.25 Dare to declare capitalism dead – before it takes us all down with it

04.24 Capitalism is failing workers. People want a job with a decent wage – why is that so hard?

04.24 The kings of capitalism are finally worried about the growing gap between rich and poor

04.23 The “disintegration” of global capitalism could unleash world war 3, warns top EU economist

04.23 The financial sector must be at the heart of tackling climate change [A reversal of their history of bad behavior]

04.21 Progressive Capitalism Is Not an Oxymoron [For the good of the public and healthier economic growth, can we make government and financial markets behave morally?]

International & Futurism

04.23 'You did not act in time': Greta Thunberg's full speech to MPs [1:43 video]

04.23 To stop global catastrophe, we must believe in humans again

04.21 Frustration grows among migrants in Mexico as support fades

04.21 Decrying 'Toxic Alliance' of Macron and Polluters, Climate Campaigners Stage One of France's Largest Ever Acts of Civil Disobedience

04.21 Yellow Vests Demonstrate in Paris as Notre Dame Donations Highlight Wealth Inequality

04.21 The Observer view on the Mueller report: Trump is a disgrace not welcome in Britain

04.21 The Government Is Still Massively Complacent About Climate Change

We are a non-profit Internet-only newspaper publication founded in 1973. Your donation is essential to our survival.

You can also mail a check to:
Baltimore News Network, Inc.
P.O. Box 42581
Baltimore, MD 21284-2581
Google
This site Web

Public Service Ads: