Schiller’s lines are simply too perfect, and his character too straight from central casting, to not conclude that he wasn’t in on the act. Rather than a joke on NPR, the short movie is a brilliant satire on the dark imagination of conservatives who believe the worst of their liberal adversaries. Only Hollywood makes our enemies made-to-order, right?
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting would never jeopardize their nearly half-billion-dollar annual allocation by employing such a brazenly offensive character. Did you really fall for the stereotype of a hyper-partisan state-radio executive mouthing stale, anti-Semitic defamations and insulting “the very large uneducated part of the population” that subsidizes his employer?
Schiller’s publicity stunt of resigning from NPR has been interpreted as confirmation of the authenticity of the mockumentary in which he stars. But like Andy Kaufmann stuck in character, or Joaquin Phoenix in I’m Still Here, Schiller’s ability to remain in his role long after the cameras have stopped rolling has tricked observers into thinking it real. Just as Robert De Niro gained sixty pounds for Raging Bull and a contorted Daniel Day-Lewis broke ribs for My Left Foot, Ron Schiller was willing to lose his job for his art.
What is apparently further confusing some right-wing rubes is that Ron Schiller also plays a character named Ron Schiller. People get that Alec Guinness isn’t Obi Wan Kenobi, Mark Wahlberg isn’t Dirk Diggler, and Linda Carter isn’t Wonder Woman. Why can’t conservatives understand that Ron Schiller, devoted public servant, isn’t Ron Schiller, cinematic douche-bag? This blurring of conservative suspicions and objective reality is perhaps the real genius of James O’Keefe’s film.
Daniel J. Flynn is the author of A Conservative History of the American Left (Crown Forum, 2008), Intellectual Morons (Crown Forum, 2004), and Why the Left Hates America (Prima Forum, 2002). He has appeared on Fox News, MSNBC, CNN, Sky News, PBS, CSPAN, and other broadcast networks. He writes a Monday column for Human Events and blogs at www.flynnfiles.com.
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