Steamshovel Press


"Penn, Teller and Bullshit"
by Kenn Thomas

      Penn Jillette is a lard butt. Teller, of course, is a mime. 'Nuff said about that. In the comedy pair's new Showtime program, Bullshit!, Penn and Teller join the humorless and condescending "skeptic" crowd by "debunking" everything they think is false. If turnabout is fair play, then any viewer can feel justified in calling these two names. They freely hurtle such epithets as "bitch" at their victims, whom they often approach without revealing how vicious their attacks will be when aired. Most of the shows end with a simple-minded homily from lard butt about how all these geeks need is love, after thirty minutes of delivering hate and humiliation to them.

      One episode attacked last year's UFO conference in Santa Clara. The first thing the camera focused on in the UFO report was disinfo's book, "You Are Being Lied To", a collection of very powerful essays on parapolitcs. P&T admitted that David Icke's notion of the world as run by shape-shifting reptilians was "the first thing anyone here said that made sense", and they did not repeat the oft-held criticism of Icke being an anti-Semite. Nevertheless, Icke did commit the crime of being more interesting than Penn & Teller, and so was ridiculed. So too was Roger Leir, the podiatrist who admits to not knowing where some of the weird things come from that he pulls from people's bodies. The "authority" podiatrist consulted by P&T knew exactly, of course, without ever examining Leir's patients. The public record of Leir's practice was offered to viewers; and examination of the other guy's apparently never happened.

      The reliance on banal, ignorant "experts" is, of course, what distinguishes P&T's work from any truly iconoclastic or thought-provoking presentation of paranormal and parapolitical material. To counterpoint the "bitch" psychotherapist, for instance, they used a rather geeky looking one who quoted conventional explanations about alien abduction and implants as if they were verses from the Bible. At their web site, P&T note "we are people living in the USA trying hard to make sense out of the world. We use the expertise available to us and we try to tell the truth as we see it."

      (The mime even suggested at the web site that none of P&T's superior audience ever goes home and tries to do the magic tricks. Now THAT's bullshit.)

      They are alone in this crusade, of course. "We know nothing, but we have experts we consult." Their experts, of course, better than those that speculate freely and with an open mind. The people out there who want to think for themselves and do for themselves are idiots, according to Penn & Teller. They are just out to make a buck. P&T found one disgruntled conference attendee disappointed because she came to the event for "science" and all she got was anecdotes and experiences, sold in books and tapes. She was going to spend the next day at the theme park across the street. P&T aren't selling anything, of course, just exposing the bullshit. Viewers should remember that when they pay their bill for premium cable.

      Too bad Penn & Teller don't get it. Too bad they can't figure a way to laugh with instead of at the UFO crowd, the conspiracy crowd or whatever off-mainstream crowd they plan to slam next.

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