Bill Maher, the obnoxious, execrable and unfunny “comic” who hosts a talk-show on HBO called “Real Time,” is inexplicably one of the most successful and popular television celebrities in the United States.
His rise to the top presents yet another example of how mediocrity, vulgarity (and, of course, luck) are far more important in determining the quality of contemporary pop culture than such quaint and forgotten qualities as talent and integrity.
Like many of his dubious contemporaries -- including Oprah Winfrey, Michael Moore, Spike Lee, Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly, among numerous others -- Maher has become a “brand,” a brand that is meticulously marketed for the sake of maximizing profit. Maher does not engage in reasoned debate, nor does he really care about the validity of his viewpoints. Having identified the demographic he wants to target (that is, upscale urban liberals), he simply ladles out what they want to hear.