George Carlin, God of the Internet?

I’m a little surprised George Carlin isn’t more popular. I mean, he’s obviously popular. In fact, he may be the single most popular comedian of all time. He had this sort of ability to cross generations and span time with his comedy. I don’t know anyone who hasn’t heard of him.

But there’s something in his comedy that represents a sort of cheerful anarchy and happy oblivion that fits in well with the internet, especially the pseudo-intellectuals who became Ron Paul r-evol-ution fanboys back in February. I don’t mean to demean George, because he probably would have found that group of morons as funny as the rest of us did. I don’t mean the crazy, backwoods, get off my land types from Montana either. I mean the specific subset of the Internet who saw V for Vendetta and thought it was a documentary. I’ve been re-reading Brain Droppings, one of the funniest books ever written, and some of his lines kind of fit in with that sense of anarchism.

“They call it the American Dream because you have to be asleep to believe it.”

“They debated the NAFTA trade bill for a long time. Should we sign it or not? Either way, people get fucked. Trade always exists for the traders. Anytime you hear businessmen debating ‘which policy is better for America,’ don’t bend over.”

“Property is theft. Nobody owns anything. When you die, it stays here. I read about these billionaires: Sam Walton 20 billion, Daniel Ludwig 15 billion. They’re both dead. They’re gone, and the money is still here. It wasn’t their money to begin with. Property is theft.”

“The word ‘bipartisan’ usually means some larger-than-usual deception is being carried out.”

Just to take a small sampling. There are countless jokes about racism, murder, disfigurement, sex, and everything else the internet is known for. So why isn’t George Carlin more popular on the Internet? Well, it’s partially because these armchair anarchists are mostly 16 year-olds who don’t feel comfortable quoting their dads’ favorite comedian. That’s pretty obvious. Others are 16 year-olds who don’t even know who George Carlin is since he wasn’t involved with South Park. A lot of his more famous stuff has to do with language or little-world observations, so even if they know him they might not know his more political stuff (though this seems unlikely).

I think the real reason is that George Carlin is too smart. He’s a comedian who says all of these sort of deeply held beliefs in a joking way, not a serious way. He knows how the world works, what’s wrong, what’s right*, and that in the long run we’re all dead. I think he’s too happy about the whole clusterfuck. The Internet crusaders charging their lasers are too angsty, too emo, too caught up in the notion that what they’re saying means something. They aren’t anarchists at all, but misplaced idealists who think their method is better than all the others that were tried.

*”The thing I like the most about this country is that, in a pinch, when things get really tough, you can always go in a store and buy some mints.

George Carlin had the ability to make jokes about rape and bus accidents, but be politically correct without being preachy. He was just good at what he did. People posting on message boards are by and large not as smart, not as funny, and not as interesting. Even though George Carlin would seem to represent much of what they talk about, they are still threatened by him. He’s not anonymous, he’s not afraid, and he’s popular. He’s everything they wish they could be. So maybe it’s just old-fashioned jealousy.


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