As an American living in Britain, you’re bound to miss a few things from back home. As good as the chips and gravy are, even the most traveled globetrotter must get homesick sometimes. I know I shouldn’t complain. I’m lucky in many ways. First of all, I’ve wound up in a socially progressive country–one which lets me live legally with my partner AND receive health care! I also get the rich experience of living in another country. It’s widened my horizons and I’ve learned to love the bits and pieces of another culture (hello Twiglets). But, as comfy as I get, I still seek out my American ‘fixes’ wherever I can. Fortunately, I can still get all of my American comic books. I can catch “The Daily Show” on basic cable (it’s called Freeview over here and for a one-off fee, you get a cable box and 30 or so ‘free’ channels). I can even find Oreos and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups in upscale grocery stores. I nearly collapsed the other day when I saw a copy of Geek magazine on the stands. Sure, as it was an import, I had to shell out the equivalent of about 8 bucks for it…but it was worth every shilling for the joy it brought me.
One thing that I can’t get over here and I feel like I’m missing out on a bit is today’s great thing:
54. Rachel Maddow (and her self-titled show)
Maddow is the first openly gay (clearly–look at the pic) anchor of a prime time show at a major cable news network. It’s a cultural landmark and from what I follow on-line, everyone loves her. So, I’ve done a bit of catching up. Mercifully, we’re living in the nuclear age and I can watch bits of her show here: Maddowat MSNBC
Like the conservatively-skewed Hannity and Colmes , the show has a bias–it’s a liberal one. Naturally, that slant appeals to me, but what makes this show better than the other meager liberal offerings out there? First of all, there’s the notion that whilst she eschews liberal opinions, she’s not a slave to the Democratic party. If they have it coming, she’ll debate their decisions just as she would those of a conservative Republican. It just so happens that Republicans make the plays that cross her particular radar more frequently. In her own words she’s liberal but not ‘partisan’. A recent article in New York magazine hypothesized that besides being smart and funny, Maddow is generally NICE to people. She even has a semi-regular segment called “It’s Pat”, wherein she debates arch-conservative hosebag Pat Buchanan–he of the early-90′s ‘culture wars’ bile. When a self-confirmed butch lesbian can sit down and host a civil conversation with someone whom she clearly disagrees with, instead of threatening to turn off their mike or telling them to shut up, which seems to be standard practice on Fox News, we know that something fresh is being offered to us. Something better. Here’s a clip from the show (I especially like when she accidentally calls Pat ‘Joe’–watch for it. It’s cute.):
The segment is a chance for Rachel to confront her fears, in a sense. Buchanan’s ‘culture wars’ were terrifying–a rallying cry to the religious right to renew their hatred of gays and lesbians. The fact that she offers the guy so much airtime is astounding. Rachel is generous and she deals with his contrary politics with grace and humor. Other like-able segments include “Talk Me Down”, wherein Rachel deals with her political anxieties by inviting an expert to ‘talk her down’ from whatever is bothering her that day. But, my favorite segment is the lighthearted “Just Enough”. This is where Rachel invites a friend, Kent, to fill her in on the pop-culture and odd news items that she doesn’t typically pay attention to. Hosting her own radio and television show, she probably just doesn’t have the time. Most annoyingly, the video won’t upload to my page. So, here’s a link to watch a recent clip:
She’s beyond a hit at this point. It’s been suggested that her rise to fame was aided by our insatiable need for election coverage. I’m sure that’s true. But there’s more than just her verbage, there’s her gayness to talk about here! Yes, she’s has her own radio show, yes she’s a Rhodes scholar, yes she’s a bit of a comic geek (awesome), let’s not gloss over the fact that she’s a big old butchy lesbian. In fact, here’s a direct quote about Rachel from the comments section of a Maddow show clip that I found on Youtube:
“stone cold bulldagger…with a crooked mouth”
Yes, just those seven words in total. Not quite a haiku, but poetic nevertheless. I’m sure it wasn’t meant as a compliment. In fact, I’m almost positive. But, those words, conversely, explain her appeal. I love ‘openly gay’ anything, but I especially love Rachel Maddow. She is an unapologetic Lesbo. Yet, she is beloved by millions, just like Bridget Jones, for being who she is.
Sure, she pastes a bit of the old slap on her face for the cameras ( the apparent insistence of her girlfriend), but when she’s not on company time, it’s back to hoodies and sneakers. She’s like a kid racing home from church to peel off their itchy dress, kick off the maryjanes, and get back into her dungarees. I can relate to that. A recent article from NYMag online focused on her shoe-stylings (see the pic below). They also compared her looks to those of NPR gab-champ Ira Glass. I think she’d take that as high praise.
Rachel Maddow is the trifecta–intelligent, funny, different. She’s exactly what we’ve all been looking for in our commentary. I’m glad she plays for my team–politically and otherwise.
For your enjoyment, here’s a recent article from New York magazine: Article
And, here’s a clip from her Leno interview: