I never thought I would say this, but here we go: Bravo, Fox News. Bravo, standing ovation, etc. I had no idea you were playing such a long game — nearly 20 years now — nor that you would so slyly, casually reveal said long game in a three-minute segment on a Wednesday morning. It’s sort of brilliant! Yet in a Fox & Friends discussion of “the Frozen Effect,” the network (accidentally, perhaps?) let the cat out of the bag. While working up a lather of faux-outrage over Hollywood’s insistence on “turning our men into fools and villains,” host Steve Doocy all but winked at the camera. It hit me like a ton of bricks — that’s what Fox News has been doing all this time! Satirizing male stupidity and villainy by crafting comically transparent personas of male stupidity and villainy! They’ve out-Colbert’ed Colbert!
Doocy, a comically slow-witted Sesame Street character with a forehead like a drive-in movie screen, gives the game away before the segment even starts, by telling guest Penny Young Nance, “Thanks for having your children allow you to come be with us on TV while you’re normally gettin’ ‘em ready for school and whatnot.” It’s the “and whatnot,” the classic verbal clutch of the most doltish of English speakers, that’s the tip-off. He can’t stop with just spouting a ‘50s-era generalization about a woman’s place — he has to also throw in that bit of verbal fungus to remind you exactly how thick this “Steve Doocy” character is. Taran Killam couldn’t have done it better.
The meager clip assemblage at the top of the segment proves the “fools and villains” argument is pretty weak sauce in Frozen (even by Fox News standards); for the fools, there’s exactly one throwaway reference by Kristoff to nose-picking, and then the big reveal that the villain is, yes, a man (spoiler alert much?). But the Fox News honchos know what’s up — they’ve spent just shy of two decades filling American homes with fools like Doocy (the stunningly imbecilic Ron Burgundy of the network) and Eric Bolling (the resident Muppet conspiracy theorist) and blowhard villains like Brian Kilmeade (casual racial purist), Bill O’Reilly (notorious bully), and Sean Hannity (racial apologist, sexist).
And that’s the genius of this brilliant, Andy Kaufman-level bit of social satire and media pranking: with the help of a thousand Disney animators, a hundred screenwriters, and every casting agent in Hollywood, Fox News couldn’t have made a more persuasive or compelling argument for the buffoonery and vileness the 21st-century American male is capable of. When Doocy despairs over the lack of “strong male figures” in the mainstream movie industry, which is dominated by testosterone-driven action tentpoles and demonstrably lacking in female representation (to borrow and correct his guest’s words, where women are “superfluous,” “stupid,” and “always in the way”), I mean, that has to be satire, right? Or at least trolling? Because no one actually believes that.
So hats off, Doocy and crew. You really had us going for a while there.