April 1, 2006

Al Franken's "Screw you."

So Al Franken said "screw you" on "The Today Show." Do you have a problem with that? I'm inclined to defend Franken here, because I'm used to this kind of humor. The other guest snipes at him and says he looks exhausted, and Franken says:
"It's 4:11AM! It's four in the morning here....Screw you! I got up at four in the morning."
It looks worse on the transcript than it sounds in the video.

I don't watch "The Today Show," and maybe its audience is especially fragile and doesn't get mock outrage, but this strikes me as pretty mainstream humor. It gets a big laugh from the crew. He continues because he's doing a humor routine. And when Matt Lauer says "cut his mike" in the end, he's joking too, isn't he? That's an allusion to this, right? That's the way I hear it.

59 comments:

Dave said...

No problem with it, though the guy is a fool.

(Not that those two thoughts really go together, do they? Just a cheap shot on my part at Franken.)

Art said...

At least he didn't suggest killing a Supreme Court justice.

But then that privilege is reserved for conservative pundits.

Troy said...

I hope Franken gets elected to the Senate. His floor speeches would push a conservative agenda miles ahead just by the inability of Franken to contain himself.

Perhaps Bill O'Reilly could run and we could have a good old-fashioned fight on the floor like in the 1850s. I'm not sure who would win but it might be great to watch them pummel each other. It would certainly make for good C-SPAN.

PatCA said...

I think the whole conversation was vulgar. His "screw you" made it sound even more like an argument in a bar. I wonder what the show's fans think.

I am a big Franken humor fan, but his real personality has soured me. I do think every dysfunctional family tho should be required to watch his movie Stuart Saves His Fmaily.

Ann Althouse said...

PatCa: I think Franken is funniest when he's self-effacing, shown most clearly in the Stuart Smalley character. Sometimes he uses a more nastly, hostile tone and it's just not as good.

Tim Sisk said...
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Tim Sisk said...

There are few people that dislike Al Franken's humor or politics, and the pass he gets from MSM for his attacks ("satire") on the administration, than me, but the "screw you" remark clearly was said in humor (and had the additional advantage of actually being humorous).

I read the transcript first and the analysis by Newsbusters. I was prepared to see something much different than they presented.

I hope Al's political opponents don't make to much of this--or else they'll look like fools. There are plenty reasons to rap on Franken, but this isn't one of them.

Elizabeth said...

Oh please. If we can survive Cheney and Scalia's vulgarities, Franken can have a "screw you."

SippicanCottage said...
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Elizabeth said...

Sippican, calm down. He can sue me if he thinks he's being defamed. Until he does, I say it's no less vulgar than a "screw you" on morning TV.

Ann Althouse said...

I love that this story connects with the Scalia story, and the Cynthia McKinney thing has resonance with it too. So does the Jill Carroll story. And the Abdul Rahman.... This week on the blog is just so podcastable!

Steve Donohue said...

Yay! Retirement is not imminent!

SippicanCottage said...
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AJ Lynch said...

I can't stand Franken but this is absolutely no biggie. But, one has to be brain-dead to watch these types of shows anyway.

Ann- re McKinney. I had never seen her til last night- she looks like a lunatic --has those runaway bride eyes!! How the hell did the Capitol police not recognize her?

Ann Althouse said...

Thanks, Steve. It's all about feeling inspired. I don't know if it's the cool confluence of stories this week or the fact that I've given myself to podcast only to the extent that I'm inspired.

tiggeril said...

4 AM? You'd be lucky if "screw you" was the mildest you got out of me.

Ann Althouse said...

AJ: " I had never seen her til last night- she looks like a lunatic --has those runaway bride eyes!! How the hell did the Capitol police not recognize her?"

Maybe we should assume they did recognize her and they really were harassing her. Ironically, her mad look make her mad theory more plausible.

And since she's apparently had other run-ins with the Capitol police, maybe they were hoping she'd lose it and do something that would constitute a crime. Conspiracy!

Judging from the arrogant, entitled attitude she's displaying over the incident, I think there's a decent chance that the Capitol police really did dislike her (already).

Elizabeth said...

On the contrary, Sippican, I don't take any of it seriously. I'm not offended by Scalia's gesture, nor by Franken's "screw you." I don't think either is vulgar. I think both are understandable reactions to provocation. My response is to those who would get all huffy about Franken. If you find his words vulgar, then I think it's silly not to find Scalia's gesture expressing exactly the same dismissiveness vulgar.

I do enjoy seeing you up on your soap box, though. Don't fall.

F15C said...

Franken is scum and the comment was mild by his standards and personally I didn't give it a second thought. It is what you get with Franken - if you don't want scum don't invite to your show. I think that the early hour actually damped his response if anything.

I'm sure some of the viewers got thier panties in a knot about it, but in the cosmic view, it's less than meaningless.

Elizabeth said...

F15c,

Franken is scum? You are eager to help spread a false defamation of your political opponents. You won't get away with that in front of Sippican. Expect his answer any minute now.

Unless he's only concerned with how I slandar my "political opponents." Surely it's justice that drives him, not vulgar partisanship?

SippicanCottage said...
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Elizabeth said...

Both "did" something, unless you're getting Clintonian with the verb. Franken spoke, Scalia gestured. That's doing, period.

Your panties are in a twist over my use of the word "vulgar" about Scalia. I chose that word deliberately after reading it used in another post to describe Franken's choice of words. I found that funny, after the social studies lesson about Italian-American and Sicilian-American culture of the other two threads on Scalia. You have dreamed up this issue of me hating Scalia out of whole cloth, when I'm simply getting a kick out of how seriously you take this, right down to crying out "defamation!" It's funny, and getting funnier.

F15C said...

Elizabeth. Franken is not a political opponent of mine. I think he is a lower level tool of the real political opponents out there and one that is - IMHO - scum. That is my opinion about the man. He puts himself out there with no uncertain ideas of where he stands and I detest him for what he says about our leaders and our nation. If he knew me, he'd be perfectly free and welcome to detest me as well.

But his little 'screw you' on the tube is a non-event as that and far, far worse is to be fully expected with him.

Elizabeth said...

F15C, agreed on the non-event.

jinnmabe said...

This IS the same tempest in a teapot that Scalia is going through. Boy, people are just ACHING for the opportunity to feel insulted. I grant Sippican's theory that Franken's is closer to the line of generally accepted vulgarity and Scalia is not close, but even if Franken were over the line, so the f what? I just don't get the ink allotment here.

Gahrie said...

Just for the record, Franken has a record of getting surly with those who criticize him.

I'd love for him to run for office as a Democrat. If he does, I give him an over/under of five press conferences before he has a total meltdown.

SteveR said...

When Al Franken did not take himself so seriously ("vote for me, Al Franken, for president") he was funny.

Now he is a sad egomaniac, just as bad as the people he mocks like O'Reilly and Limbaugh. His huge "salary" at Air America seems more like a campaign contribution is disguise.

SippicanCottage said...
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jakemanjack said...

The real point?
The turd-sniffers who work for the Today show laughed with Franken and AT the other guest; Michael Smerconish.
(Author of “Muzzeled”)
Franken rudely mispronounced Smerconish’s name and the crew of the Today Show laughed and laughed and pretty much ganged up on Mr. Smerconish simply because he is not a part of their democrat insider group-think click.

Elizabeth said...

Sippican, you've entered the twilight zone. I have no malice here, and I'm not characterizing "any motion of an American of Sicilian extraction as a vulgarity." You're seeing predjudice where it doesn't exist. Get a grip.

I am simply amused by the relative huffiness from one public debate of what is and isn't vulgar to the other. You've missed my point, and are all frothy about me hating and maliciously defaming Scalia. I think you're wrapping up all your frustration with the Scalia threads and tossing it at me. Enough. You're no fun anymore.

SippicanCottage said...
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Elizabeth said...

Sippican, my city would be much the poorer in almost every aspect of public life without its Italian and Sicilian heritage. Italian New Orleanians a few weeks ago offered the city a blessed sign that we endure; despite our troubles, St. Joseph's Day altars were created in homes and churches. What a reminder of bounty in lean times.

I don't find either Franken or Scalia's moment in the public eye vulgar. My purpose, as I've said, was to respond, satirically, to what I saw as overreaction to Franken's comment, by tying it to Scalia's gesture. We can disagree over how each event has been interpreted (though I don't think we do disagree) without defamation being involved.

Danny said...

I thought Franken's comment was perfect considering the situation. Imagine trying to articulate your views on illegal immigration to seven million people at 4 AM!

DRJ said...

Elizabeth, I'm confused. In the course of less than 40 comments spanning five hours, you have said:

"Oh please. If we can survive Cheney and Scalia's vulgarities", Franken can have a 'screw you.'"

"Sippican, calm down. He [referring to Scalia] can sue me if he thinks he's being defamed. Until he does, I say it's no less vulgar than a 'screw you' on morning TV."

"I'm not offended by Scalia's gesture, nor by Franken's 'screw you.' I don't think either is vulgar."

"Your panties are in a twist over my use of the word 'vulgar' about Scalia."

As I read it, you have stated that Scalia was vulgar, that Scalia no less vulgar than Franken, that neither is vulgar, and that we should all get over it (no doubt because it gets very uncomfortable to wear twisted panties).

Can you clarify what your position will be in the sixth hour of this discussion?

AJ Lynch said...

Jakemanjack:
Thanks for the background color. I did not realize it was Smerconish who Franken was replying to. It helps explain Franken's vitriol. Smerconish is the just type of Repblican Franken despises. So in fact Franken was not humorously responding to Katie or Matt- it was a know conservative he was lashing out at. Franken is such a a wuss.

jakemanjack said...

When you're a guest on the Today show along with a token left-Democrat - you will be properly ignored and laughed at.

Matt Lauer had Jay Bennish on the Today show one morning not so long ago (Bennish is the teacher who was caught on tape delivering an uber-leftist screed to his geography high school students) and Matt Lauer acted like he and Bennish were old buddies. Lauer asked ZERO difficult questions and they simply laughed it up.

I hardly ever watch the Today show because Matt and Katie are such obvious biased hacks.

Al Franken should be a permanent guest-host with the Today Show democrats. He'd be a perfect addition.

jakemanjack said...

AJ Lynch

You're welcome.

I heard the tape. Sure, Franken was a prick, but the Today Show crew were bigger pricks because they were laughing like a pack of high school snobs ignoring the elbowing out the "little guy" who happened to be the guest.
(Mr. Smerconish)

But clearly - the Today Show adores the unfunny al Franken.

Elizabeth said...

DRJ, you are indeed confused. But not for my lack of discussing what prompted my getting a laugh from the selective huffiness over imagined vulgarities. This is a fluffy topic to get so overwrought about. Move on.

Troy said...

I'm confused... Elizabeth is vulgar and Scalia's panties are twisted and Al Franken is screwed? I side with Elizabeth (though I have no dog in this allegedly vulgar pantie-twisted showdown) -- I never mess with folks from New Orleans.

SippicanCottage said...
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SippicanCottage said...

Elizabeth, I do believe you were trying to be pleasant, which is not necessary. We are not enemies. Perhaps we disagree sometimes. All that means is one of us is wrong. Or sometimes, both are.

You don't have to make your bones about cheerleading for Sicilians, either. Any time you want to spend a happy minute talking about the greatest New Orleans musician who ever lived, Louis Prima, I'm right with you. We can party on down with Ernie K.Doe, Mac Rebbenack, The Radiators, The Dixie Cups, The Soul Stirrers, and anybody else you want to drag in from Red Stick too while we're at it.

But I'm going to say each and every time it comes up, that Justice Scalia did not make a vulgar gesture in that church. I don't care if you care. I don't care if you care if I care. I certainly don't care what Mary thinks. I don't even care if I care all that much.

But it just ain't so.

reader_iam said...

Yo, all this back and forth makes me want to starting quoting the morals of the Aesop's tales.

(Ducking ... .)

And Elizabeth, may I venture to say that you were rather inconsistent in your characterization and the characterizations of your characterization.

(Ducking again ... .)

; )

reader_iam said...

Re: Franken

Until Katie Couric is gone from the Today Show, I'll be completely uninformed "live and for my own eyes" as to what its guests are doing.

Now there's someone who truly grates on me.

Yes. I know. I'm in the minority.

Well, screw it.

Aspasia M. said...

Ha. We're obviously more interested in Italian hand gestures then morning TV shows.

Which shows entirely good sense on our part.

And - Why did I think Scalila's ancestors were of Neopalitan, not Sicilian extraction?

This reminds me of a bizarre conversation in an Italian class.

I was talking to a fellow student of Sicilian descent who found out my grandparents were Calabrian. She said to me: "Calabrians are known as stubborn mules."

I told my Grandmother that - and she promptly responded: "WELL, I'll tell you what we call Sicilians. We call Sicilians gangsters."

I love it. Stubborn mule perfectly suits me.

reader_iam said...

Mary:

I don't think Sippican was trying to twist "views." I think he was objecting to what he sees as twisting facts. He may very well be right ... but there's legitimate disagreement, if not about the specific "vulgarity" of the gesture, then certainly the appropriateness and dignity of it. Which doesn't excuse the journalists, btw.

Elizabeth, I think, in reaction sees an analogy the premises of which Sippican doesn't except. Whether or not I agree with her premises, I think her analogy of REACTION to what is ultimately trivial in a week full of real news--extensively covered and NOT--is not all that off base.

I think they've BOTH got very valid points--but because of the nature of what they're trying to get across, they're talking past each other. Which doesn't meant the rest of us can't learn from both.

You, Mary, on the other, rarely add to the debate. That's because--unlike Sippican and Elizabeth--you essentially put your two cents in from the point of malign bad faith. I wouldn't care about that, except that I'm getting increasingly concerned about the general trend toward a disrespect for the concept of "good faith" disagreement. Or for the very idea that people can both disagree and argue in good faith ... on the way to painfully hammering out a way to accommodate a diverse society of values, beliefs, lifestyles etc. and so on.

You, and those like you, make it harder.

I wish you'd get out of the way--not here, 'cause, yes, that's not really my business, so, of course, you can say my comment is inappropriate--but just in general. In terms of the type.

Aspasia M. said...

Well, hand gestures are interesting. Here's some further analysis in From Manwatching by Desmond Morris.


On the Chin Flick:

Sometimes it is possible to relate the geography of modern Regional Signals to past historical events. The Chin Flick gesture, in which the backs of the fingers are swept upwards and forwards against the underside of the chin, is an insulting action in both France and northern Italy. There it means 'Get lost-you are annoying me.' In southern Italy it also has a negative meaning, but the message it carries is no longer insulting. It now says simply 'There is nothing' or 'No' or 'I cannot' or 'I don't want any'. This switch takes place between Rome and Naples and gives rise to the intriguing possibility that the difference is due to a surviving influence of ancient Greece. The Greeks colonized southern Italy, but stopped their northern movement between Rome and Naples. Greeks today use the Chin Flick in the same way as the southern Italians. In fact, the distribution of this, and certain other gestures, follows remarkably accurately the range of the Greek civilization at its zenith. Our words and our buildings still display the mark of early Greek influence, so it should not be too surprising if ancient Greek gestures are equally tenacious. What is interesting is why they did not spread farther as time passed. Greek architecture and philosophy expanded farther and farther in their influences, but for some reason, gestures like the Chin Flick did not travel so well. Many countries, such as England, lack them altogether, and others, like France, know them only in a different role.

(Personally, I've always seen this gesture done to convey contempt.)

Elizabeth said...

I own up to being vulgar, inconsistent, and at least trying to go for the good faith angle.

Sippican, Louis Prima is one of the best things on my iPod. When I had an iPod, but that's a different story. My attempt to make a point about our selective umbrage about public figures was too roundabout. I absolutely accept your characterization of Scalia's gesture and shall leave it at that.

K-Doe Lives!

reader_iam said...

Mary, thank you for both of your compliments: not "condenscending" and not calling me "dear."

I'm doing something right.

SippicanCottage said...
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SippicanCottage said...
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reader_iam said...

Sippican and Elizabeth:

Oh, the music.

For some reason, I can't reach our main music server, but--thank goodness--I can reach the one which contains some live sessions featuring Keely Smith and Count Basie.

"Gonna Build Me A Mountain" to "Fly Me To the Moon"--and all that (jazz) ... .

reader_iam said...

'Cause "I Could Write A Book" about how much I love that music, and the music to which you refer, and than this, and then that offshoot--and then there's this whole other genre, and that one, and then ...

Elizabeth said...

Sippican, you have a wonderful music collection. I missed a chance to see Keely Smith a few years back, but my good friend went, and ended up singing a few lines with her on stage! It is still the highlight of her life.

Happy Birthday to your little guy, and thank him from me for sharing his cake.

reader_iam said...
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Aspasia M. said...

Happy Birthday to the little one! Have some of my cannoli!

Say hello to your wife. Go Calabrians! My relatives in Italy live near Locri.

My papa married my mama, who is a WASP. We had many instances of family dinners where everyone was talking quickly, except for my mother. All of a sudden she would cut in and say "Let me in! Slow down everyone and stop interrupting each other."

We, of course, had no idea that we were talking over each other.

reader_iam said...

Mary:

I'm not who you think I am.

Go back and read the response.

Ann Althouse said...

Geoduck: Thanks for the Desmond Morris quote. I'm beginning to see this chin flick thing as being like holding up the palm and turning away. How rude it is depends on the whole feeling of the situation. And about overtalking: even though I'm from the WASP background, I prefer fast overtalking and think people who are quick to characterize friendly overtalking as interrupting are a drag. Nevertheless, if you're in a group and one person doesn't know how to jump in, you should notice and throw some questions at them so they can join in. It's the failure ever to do that that's rude. But the worst thing is when the overtalking aversive one constantly manages to jump in but only to talk about the interrupting.

Sippican: It must be odd to feel Italian and have an Irish name. The opposite of De Niro, who's also half Irish (I think). Anyway, happy birthday to your son, who's apparently more Italian than you but still with the Irish name.

SippicanCottage said...
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Abraham said...

Has Mary been disappeared?