Thursday, February 11, 2010

Whatever Happened to Mister Garibaldi?

A number of complicated, trenchant, well-phrased and generally bloggable thoughts came screaming through my head as I glimpsed the inaugural authorial work of one Mr. Gerard T. Doyle.

Who is Jerry Doyle?, I hear you asking. THIS is who Jerry Doyle is.

Or was, rather. For five years, Doyle played Chief of Security Michael Garibaldi on the syndicated TV show ‘Babylon 5’ Garibaldi was an intensely likeable, average-joe type, with a history of drinking and, you know, a raygun. And that was it. That was pretty much his life. He briefly tried to run for Congress in Orange County, quipping when asked why we should take his campaign seriously “I’m the only candidate with my own action figure” but he largely disappeared from the TV landscape. Imdb lists one screen credit between 2004 and 2010. It also tells me he’s good friends with premiere American nutjob asshole Michael Savage.

Three thoughts ran through my head as I considered this, Doyle’s first work of non-fiction. The first was a pointed, “Fuck YOU, JD.” I don’t need fucking actors, even actors whose work I enjoyed when I was eighteen, even actors whose politics I like and respect, weighing in on the current political discourse. I resolved to do up an angry blog post about it.

Which brought me to Thought 2: Since when am I qualified to bitch about Doyle’s qualifications to bitch about the current political discourse?

Thought 3: This is AMERICA. Doyle can say whatever the Hell he wants, no matter how ill-informed, bent, or insane. That somebody gave him a book deal because he knows the right people or because they thought the whole “This is the moment I was born for” fight against the invisible Shadow beasts was, well, let’s face it, pretty bitchin’ means nothing. People of arguably less talent and ability have produced more. See also: Michael Savage.

Thought 4: Hm. Doyle’s been out of circulation since god-knows-when (imdb would later fill in the blanks for me). I smell a PLOT! A plot to resuscitate an image that, frankly, no one cares about.

Thought 5: I’m not even going to bring up ‘Captain Simian and the Space Monkeys.’ I just won’t. You’re welcome.

Thought 6: Well, Largo, if you’re hell-bent on bitching about the thing, least you can do is read it. (See also: Atlas Shrugged.) So I did.
…And I didn’t get that far. Seriously, I can’t even listen to the RADIO half the time before wanting to kick someone. So let me give you the highlights, because I’m not a book reviewer and my father used to tell me if I kept torturing myself, I’d go blind.

Doyle opens his book with the cigarette tax and SCHIP. He explains, with an irony that’s so heavy-handed on-the-nose it could be sued by a personal injury attorney, that he smokes cigarettes “for the children.” He expands on this premise, slyly decrying “sin” taxes and generally coming off as just your average joe who wants to sit back and enjoy a beer and the game without all the damn liberals in Congress getting on his damn case about it.

It was around here that I put the book down. I picked it up at a random spot a little further on where Doyle explains that he left his career in film and television (and what a lucrative career it was, ladies and gentlemen) to run for Congress. I remember reading on the imdb that, when asked why his campaign for California District 24 should be taken seriously, Doyle replied "I'm the only candidate with my own action figure."

In here there's little of that. Doyle says his career as an actor was never brought up because his opponent, incumbent Brad Sherman, knew he had too much of a command on the issues. To be fair, he doesn't spoil the rod when it comes to, say, Tom DeLay and his rigging of the Ethics Committee (p. 203) to protect his own ass. Though, mostly, the book is a tirade against what Doyle perceives as Economic Fascism and the Media Obsession with President Obama, something which already dates the book by several months and it's only been out one.

Turns out Doyle's got his own radio show, which is nationally syndicated, so that shows me, I guess. The book is less of a cynical attempt to reform his career than I thought. Following his electoral defeat in 2000, Doyle declared himself an independent and started 'The Jerry Doyle' show.

The problem with Doyle's (and Bill O'Rielly and Glenn Beck's, really) brand of Independent Conservatism is it comes from a false premise, that the sense of privilege we enjoy in this country is our God-given right, and that if somebody wants you to, say, give a damn that people in your own country are starving to death, for instance, well then you're a goddamn Communist, and if you want to legislate ANYTHING, well, then you're infringing on every American's God-Given Right to Be American, Damn It. Nevermind anybody else. This sense that things are OWED us, simply because they are the things we're used to. It's this myopic sense of entitlement that tells us the Fifties were the best time in history, that the world outside doesn't exist except when it sends us Islamofascist Terrorists and High-Quality Hungarian Porn, and Secret Kenyan Plots to Rule the World. Boo.


  1. Word. I hear you on sampling the works in question before forming a complete opinion. That said, it is infuriating. When I go to Fermilab, I listen to Moody Radio (broadcast from Moody Bible Institute). It's a fascinating and infuriating listen. Doyle, Beck, and MBI have an insidious delivery that is superficially quite palatable. I mean, how many people are against (or willing to say they're against) family, responsibility, honesty, and the like? The devil, as they say, is in the details. As you rightly point out, when it comes down to it, they feel their values are betrayed and that they are owed.

    What they fail to realize is that while it's true that progressives and others are sometimes trying to spread things around, it's because the game is rigged and has been for some time. If one claims that the game is fair but one person starts out with 10x the chits as everyone else, it's absolutely right to point it out and redistribute things so that the game is as fair as was claimed. But because these people have had 10x the chits for all their lives, it's suddenly a huge burden and they are owed having such an imbalance.

  2. This is why I like to know as little as possible about actors. Now my never-to-be-resolved Ivanova-Garibaldi shipping is tainted. Damn you, Matt! *shakes fist*

  3. Go ahead an mention "Captain Simian & The Space Monkeys". It was a hell of a show! Jerry was great in it, playing alongside cast members such as Malcom MacDowell, David Carridine, Rene Auberjenois, David Warner, Maurice La Marche and Michael Dorn. Funny, intelligent, way ahead of other such shows.

    THat being said, I disagree with most of Jerry Doyle's poitics, but he is a decent human being and that's what counts the most in my book.

  4. @Althea: Ivanova/Garibaldi shipping? Really? I mean I guess there was that one scene in...whatever ep it was. The one where her Dad died, I think. I used to have a practically encyclopedic knowledge of that show.

    @Gordon: Doyle seems pretty affable, regular-Joe like, the kind we'd all like to have that beer with. I'm sure he and I would probably get along if we just stayed the hell away from politics, which leads me to...

    @Andrew: You're right, who amongst us is really against Mom and Country and even Apple Pie? But there's this myopia, cynically exploited by some on the Right, about how the other 9/10ths live. Frankly, I kind of agree with some of the rhetoric put forth by some Tea Partiers. I can certainly understand the frustration and anger. But, rather than produce something resembling a principled opposition party, which the Republican machine has long since abandoned any pretense at being, they're in danger of being swallowed up whole by the Consumer Industrial Complex and its manservants in the GOP.

    Ivanova/Garibaldi? Really?