Wednesday, September 13, 2006
This is via James Madore, the full thing is available on Youtube in 8 parts, it's a great overview of how Hicks' comedy evolved over time, a sense which you don't quite get when you just go on a downloading binge like most people do when they first discover the rare gem that is his performance and insight.
Bill Hicks Outlaw Comic Documentary 1 of 8
Bill Hicks Outlaw Comic Documentary 2 of 8
Bill Hicks Outlaw Comic Documentary 3 of 8
Bill Hicks Outlaw Comic Documentary 4 of 8
Bill Hicks Outlaw Comic Documentary 5 of 8
Bill Hicks Outlaw Comic Documentary 6 of 8
Bill Hicks Outlaw Comic Documentary 7 of 8
Bill Hicks Outlaw Comic Documentary 8 of 8
The first time I ever heard Hicks talk about the Gulf War it barely registered that he wasn't actually talking about the most recent invasion and occupation of Iraq, the similarities were so complete. It made me realize that I, at 11 years old when the first Gulf War happened, have no memory of any voice piping up to say anything against the war, no one questioning any actions of teh US or exposing the lies spread by PR firms hired by the Kuwaiti government to sell war to American legislators and citizens. (Link: How PR Sold the War in the Persian Gulf - Center for Media and Democracy) Most ghoulish in this context was how Dennis Leary, who got famous after he blatantly stole some of Hicks' best material and aped his ranting style wholesale, would do material that cheered on the war in the most dull-witted way possible, by echoing the lizard-brain enjoyment of watching war coverage on CNN while sitting in one's living room, without the uncomfortable bite of feeling like one is being satirized. Leary turned Hicks' dangerous act into safe, reinforcing of conventional wisdom and the status quo long before Dennis Miller ever found the easy money that comes from telling white people what they want to hear.
The most unique part about Bill Hicks the human being, though, was the hopefulness that would come out in his later years. The idea tha people aren't bad at their core, but our potential is being held back by our institutions, but that we have the potential to come together and feed the hungry and explore outer space together as one people. The idea that people had value as individuals made his criticisms of society even more urgent, because you don't have the idea that we deserve our fate or that we brought it on ourselves.