Posted by: Johan Normark | January 15, 2011

Žižek on Glenn Beck

I received a package of books from Amazon yesterday and I immediately picked up Slavoj Žižek’s book Living in the End Times (2010). Not only does it appear to be the book I was looking for to analyze the 2012 circus, I will even have use for it in my “water” project, but I will come back to that later on since I will have to rearrange at least one or two of my case studies. On page 4 Žižek has this to say about Glenn Beck at Fox News (who we all know is an archaeologist). In several ways this description suits some people in the 2012 circus:

Fox News’s Glenn Beck, the infamous Groucho Marx of the populist Right, deserves his reputation for provoking laughter-but not where he intends to do so. The dramaturgy of his typical routine begins with a violently satiric presentation of his opponents and their arguments, accompanied by a grimacing worthy of Jim Carrey; this part, which is supposed to make us laugh, is then followed by a “serious” sentimental moral message. But we should simply postpone our laughter to this concluding moment: it is the stupidity of the final “serious” point which is laughable, not the acerbic satire whose vulgarity should merely embarrass any decent thinking person.



  1. Ha! That IS the most ridiculous part of Glenn Beck…when he puts on his glasses, heads to the chalkboard, and tells us all HOW IT REALLY IS. The sad part is that so many people mistake his nonsense for “analysis” and go around parroting his ideas all over the place.

    There is a reason why people like Twain, Vonnegut, and Mencken turned to brutal satire to get their points across–and Glenn Beck is one of those reasons. It’s all just too much to fathom sometimes.

  2. Luckily I do not get to see him that often, mainly when Jon Stewart makes fun of him.

  3. You’re a lucky man indeed!

  4. Notice how Zizek points to nothing substantial about Glenn Beck, but instead uses an argument based on appearance. I used to be a HUGE Zizek fan, but then realized (to my embarrassment), that Glenn Beck provides many more substantial points than Zizek. What do I mean by this?

    Glenn Beck tries to USE knowledge in the present moment. That is, although he may be “stupid” at times, part of that stupidity is merely that fact that we’re all quite stupid and ridiculous when we try to use knowledge in the present moment.

    Zizek takes the academic luxury of analyzing things AFTER they’ve happened. That is the arena of meaning, not doing.

    After studying philosophy / literature / theory for over 10 years, I have been seriously disturbed by its impotence and hysteria. It’s taken me 1 year to unlearn most of the flawed thinking that is based on identity/meaning/history and has nothing to do whatsoever with problem solving, the present, and the future.

    The only good that I have been able to find in my studies of critical theory is that is made me critical. But, it takes humility each day to realize that critical abilities don’t help me to learn new skills, such as web development, how to start a real business, etc. But, the weirdest thing: Once I became humble and forced to act in the now, I suddenly “got” Glenn Beck and believe he’s quite a respectable man. I don’t agree with him 100% or anything, but he’s trying and he’s trying in the now.

    Thanks for an interesting blog, I’ll be sure to come back. Got it bookmarked:)

  5. My experience of Beck comes from moments like this:

    In this clip he is also analyzing things after they supposedly have happened (according to Mormon faith but not from an archaeological perspective). Maybe this was part of some other argument Beck made, I do not remember now.

    I have never been a great fan of Zizek. I basically picked up his latest (?) book that seemed to be suitable for my coverage of the 2012 phenomenon. I lost interest after 100 pages or so. I am also a bit tired of philosophy right now. Reading up on Deleuze and his followers the last couple of years have now pushed me towards OOO but I am not seeing any great differences in this line of thought. Same, same but different. No, digging in the dirt and hauling oneself into caves is a bit more exciting.


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