Remember when the whole red state-blue state thing was fun, insidery jargon used by political junkies? Yeah, those were the good ole days.
Much the same as we have to tolerate the thousands of permutations of Evangelicals Doing Stuff, now we have to put up with endless stories on the red-and-blue theme. One of the latest (and most ridiculous) is Matt Bai’s “King of the Hill Democrats” in last Sunday’s New York Times Magazine.
Bai opens by explaining that the idea of “South Park conservatives” is all wrong. To understand American politics today, one must “set the TiVo” to catch “King of the Hill,” of which the blue governor of red North Carolina is a fan. Therefore, it must be gospel.
Bai writes that Hank, the central father character, “embodies all the traditional conservative values” because “he’s a proud gun owner and a Nascar fan.” But wait! There’s a kicker — as the North Carolina governor explains to our poor New York journalist, Hank is more complicated that he may seem. “Hank may be a lover of the environment — he was furious when kids trashed the local campground — but he resents self-righteous environmentalists like the ones who forced Arlen to install those annoying low-flow toilets.” See, Blue America? There is hope for us after all!
Bai’s most irritating commentary comes when he’s describing King of the Hill’s audience. He writes, “You might expect that a spoof of a small-town propane salesman and his beer-drinking buddies would attract mostly urban intellectuals, with their highly developed sense of irony.” Cause, you know, the only way to get a laugh out of those of us from the Heartland is to show some guy get kicked in the nuts.
So it comes as a huge surprise to Bai that the show’s viewers are mostly men, 18-49, a quarter of whom own pickup trucks. Yes, pickup trucks! Who knew pickup-truck drivers functioned on a high enough level to understand the complex irony of an animated sitcom on Fox? Bai closes by explaining that, “understanding the show’s viewers might resolve some of the mysteries confronting [Democrats] about the vast swaths of red on the electoral map.” Please, God, make it stop.
If this is what we have to put up with in the off-season, I shudder at the thought of what may come in 2006, especially during sweeps week.