The Bourgeois Formalism of Lenny and Carl

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Despite plummeting popularity and increasing social unrest at home, Hugo Chavez has decided it's a perfect time to nationalize both Venezuela's cement and steel industries. On Wednesday, the Chavez government announced that it would takeover steelmaker Ternium Sidor, "sending the Argentine-controlled company's shares tumbling." Following news of Venezuela's planned takeover of Mexican cement company Cemex, Peter Hakim, president of the Inter-American Dialogue, made a trenchant point: "They are doing such a terrible job managing the nation's most important company, [state oil company] PDVSA, that it's hard to imagine they're really going to have the skill, the manpower and the knowledge to do much with [cement] companies. This is rather a cockeyed economic proposition."

Both decisions will surely have a negative economic impact on Venezuela's already shaky economy, but it cannot possibly match the damage to public morale of this decision. The Times of London reports:

Luxurious chest hair and little red trunks versus doughnuts and "D'oh!". In the battle of the US television heavyweights, The Hoff has vanquished Homer.

Or at least in Venezuela, where The Simpsons has been ordered from television schedules by President Hugo Chavez after being deemed unsuitable for children. Controversial enough, but in an even more curious move its 11am timeslot has been handed to Baywatch, the show that launched a thousand adolescent dreams.

David Hasselhoff and his aerodynamic life-saving cohorts began their slow-motion jog across the nation's screens on Friday morning, after a ruling that The Simpsons was in danger of breaching the Law of Social Responsibility in Radio and Television.

The National Telecommunications Commission said the show pushed "messages that go against the whole education of boys, girls and adolescents". So far the regulatory agency, which reports to the government, has failed to explain why the cartoon family from Springfield poses more of a threat to the minds of Venezuelan children than a lifeguard falling out of her swimsuit.

(Hat tip: Bruce)

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  1. they’re hydraulically enhanced, not aerodynamic.

    they always have their own life preservers, though. (I assume silicon and fatty tissue floats, however, saline implants are presumably buoyancy-neutral).

  2. The National Telecommunications Commission said the show pushed “messages that go against the whole education of boys, girls and adolescents”. So far the regulatory agency, which reports to the government, has failed to explain why the cartoon family from Springfield poses more of a threat to the minds of Venezuelan children than a lifeguard falling out of her swimsuit.

    The author forgets that sex is only terrifying to Americans, whereas satire and comedy are considered dangerous everywhere.

  3. But he was elected!
    Elected!

  4. Hugo is so entertaining that one sometimes forgets that he’s fucking up a previously successful country. If he would just resign and then go on Celebrity Big Brother, the world would thank him.

  5. Lenny Leonard and Carl Carlson are portrayed as closeted gay men on the show… not that there’s anything wrong with that!!

  6. Ay Carumba!

  7. the Chavez government announced that it would takeover take over steelmaker Ternium Sidor

    For a magazine called grammar

  8. I once watched The Simpson’s on Malaysian TV (long story). It was one of the Halloween shows; this one where Homer’s head is turned into a giant donut (another long story, but oddly, you’re probably still with me).

    Parked down the block is policeman Wiggam, saying to his partner, “he’s gotta come out sometime…”. So the joke relies on “cops + donuts = world of humorous observations.”

    I’m thinkin’, does ANYBODY in Malaysia get the joke?! Do Malaysian cops hang out in noodle bars or something?

    Anyhoo… I wonder what percent of The Simpson’s went flying over the heads of Venezuelans? Not ENOUGH, apparently.

    Re: Big Brother — while the name is appropriate, I think Hugo’s more of a Surreal Life type. Throw in Mugabe and Fidel with a colostemy bag (“Cranky Old Dictators!”) and Imelda Marcos, and I’d watch on pay-per-view!

    (I’m not sure if Imelda is alive, but I stand by my statement in any case…)

  9. So, I guess they do not value intelligence at all? Simpson’s, though sometimes crass, is a pretty smart show. Baywatch, is lewd AND it’s completely unintelligent, dumbed down, low budget writing, worst species of daytime tv in existence.

  10. What a meathead. He must live in a serious bubble not to realize that this is a bad idea.

    But he was elected!
    Elected!

    Yes, he was. Not really relevant here.

  11. So, I guess they do not value intelligence at all? Simpson’s, though sometimes crass, is a pretty smart show. Baywatch, is lewd AND it’s completely unintelligent, dumbed down, low budget writing, worst species of daytime tv in existence.

    Perhaps Hugo saw the Simpsons episode with the “independent thought alarm” and decided not to let his subjects get an bright ideas…

  12. Every day it seems more and more like Chavez’s instruction manual is Animal Farm.

  13. If Venezuelan dictators think The Simpsons is a threat, I think that’s all to the credit of The Simpsons.

  14. “Baywatch, the show that launched a thousand adolescent dreams”

    Only a thousand??? I demand a recount!

  15. *With each new day

  16. Thank you, WAVY RED LINE!

    I blame Microsoft. Every time somebody installs a Windows application, they double click on a program called, “Setup”. If they had only called it “Set Up” or even “SetUp”.

  17. But he was elected!
    Elected!

    Yes, he was. Not really relevant here.

    Why not? Are you saying that the democratic legitimacy of the government is irrelevant to evaluating its actions?

    Would nationalizing companies and censorship of TV programming be better/worse if done by an unelected dictator?

  18. If Baywatch was nothing but Pamela Anderson, Erica Eleniak, etal. running around in swimsuits, I could understand this decision. But that show was ruined by the addition of “plots”, shots of Hasselhoff, and other extraneous crap.

    I suspect The Simpsons will have a pointed comment to Chavez in an upcoming episode. Watching a country implode is never a pretty sight. Hopefully, this will wake up the other “Bolivarians” in South America as to the viability of socialism.

    Had he said ‘?Que lastima!’ I would have voted bee suit guy threadwinner.

  19. Oops. My second paragraph should have been split after the first sentence.

  20. I guess I should read all of the posts before I post. sorry best suit guy @ 3:05

  21. Me kicked out of Venezuela? Es unposible!

  22. Are you saying that the democratic legitimacy of the government is irrelevant to evaluating its actions?

    Yes. Two different issues. It is good to see you finally getting this point.

    Would nationalizing companies and censorship of TV programming be better/worse if done by an unelected dictator? Actions are actions, and should be judged on their own terms.

    The reason democracy is superior to dictatorship is because the former provides a system for checking the abuses of a tyrant and removing him, not because sprinkling magical democracy dust makes everything the government does smell like petunias.

  23. a previously successful country

    Episiarch, I would argue that it was a horridly corrupt country, and that’s why the bonehead was electable. I hate Chavez as much as the next person, but he did put most of the old oligarchs out on their asses (and replaced them with new oligarchs).

    For a magazine called grammar

    Drink!

  24. The reason democracy is superior to dictatorship is because the former provides a system for checking the abuses of a tyrant and removing him, not because sprinkling magical democracy dust makes everything the government does smell like petunias.

    joe, I’m saving that on the wiki page about you. Well said.

  25. Parked down the block is policeman Wiggam, saying to his partner, “he’s gotta come out sometime…”

    They’re holding coffee cups too. Very important.

  26. Worries that The Simpsons and Baywatch are corrupting the youth?

    Are they living in 1990?

    (well, a President Bush, a war in Iraq, a credit-induced financial meltdown so maybe so are we.)

  27. When RCTV was shut down last year, much of Hugo’s target audience was deprived of their novelas with huge bosoms falling out of swimsuits and other tops – a long tradition in Latin America. This eroded his popularity tremedously with his former supporters, but apparently they’ve found a way around it with installing satellite dishes. –

    Yup, you can count them in the “buhoneros” the dirt poor shantytowns that surround Caracas – about one in ten shacks has one now, and you can bet the neighbors who don’t have satellite stop over regularly with beer and uh, other things, so they can watch. I hear “24” is quite popular.

  28. The Simpsons made fun of Progressivism and Castro at the same time, so it isn’t that suprising Shitvez wouldn’t like the show.
    From IMDB.com

    Fidel Castro: Comrads, our nation is completely bankrupt! We have no choice but to abandon communism!
    Castro’s Aide #1, Castro’s Associates: [sigh]
    Fidel Castro: I know, I know, I know… but we all knew from day one this mumbo jumbo wouldn’t fly! I’ll call Washington and tell them they won.
    Castro’s Aide #1: But presidente, America tried to kill you!
    Fidel Castro: Ah, they’re not so bad. They even named a street after me in San Francisco!
    [Aide #2 whispers something into his ear]
    Fidel Castro: It’s full of what?

  29. Los Simpsons isnt very funny in Spanish, in fact, it is kind of crass. The jokes aren’t translated well or are entirely changed because the humor of The Simpsons is mostly based on American culture.
    I love watching the Simpsons. Hate Los Simpsons.
    And seeing big breasted women with busting cleavage is a normal everyday thing. You see it in telenovelas, the newspaper, heck, even here at work… There are also HUGE billborads at the side of mayor highways portraying bikini-clad women ads for Polar or Regional beer. As you can imagine, many car accidents in that area…

  30. “””Or at least in Venezuela, where The Simpsons has been ordered from television schedules by President Hugo Chavez after being deemed unsuitable for children.”””

    The christian right in the US made the same argument. They said it was unsuitable for children. They were afraid Bart would make our kids out of control. Bart Simpson shirts where banned at some schools. They just didn’t have enough power to impose their will like Chavez, but they really, really wanted to.

  31. “Why not? Are you saying that the democratic legitimacy of the government is irrelevant to evaluating its actions?”

    Why be a dolt. If I’m elected president and then I decide to subvert the constitution, do you really thing that make democracy the heavy? Go play somewhere else.

  32. But isnt The Simposons a cartoon for adults? I don’t think it was ever meant to be for children.
    Many Venezuelans think “hey, its a cartoon. It must be for kids”. Then they finally understand that Smithers is gay and all hell breaks loose.

  33. Why ban it when you can dub it yourself and make it say whatever the hell you want? It worked for Franco in Spain.

  34. “Why ban it when you can dub it yourself and make it say whatever the hell you want? It worked for Franco in Spain.”

    Worked for Woody Allen Too!

  35. “””But isnt The Simposons a cartoon for adults? “””

    Not in the same sense as Fritz the Cat.

  36. Worked for Woody Allen Too!

    Spartan dog!

  37. I have a secret egg salad recipe that is the envy of the rest of Japan.

  38. rana,

    Polar? As in, Polar Cola? The soft-drink maker from Worcester, MA that has the largest number of flavors of any soft drink company in the world?

    THAT Polar?

  39. G-d how I love that film!

  40. G-d how I love that film!

    Only watchable Woody Allen film, partly because he isn’t on screen. My god he sucks otherwise.

    (flamewar!)

  41. “And seeing big breasted women with busting cleavage is a normal everyday thing.”

    I saw Univision for the first time yesterday. And in less than a minute I declared aloud, “I will never watch any other channel again!!!

  42. Hugo Chavez has decided it’s a perfect time to nationalize both Venezuela’s cement and steel industries.

    It’s always a good time for more socialism!

  43. But he was elected! Elected!

    Probably not. Some MIT/Harvard guys claim their mathematical analysis found a 99% likelihood he stole the recall election.

    http://blogs.salon.com/0001330/categories/rrModels/

    Would you trust an electoral system where the government gets to tabulate votes in a master computer they control, with auditors only auditing the machines the gov’t tells them to?

  44. “Would you trust an electoral system where the government gets to tabulate votes in a master computer they control, with auditors only auditing the machines the gov’t tells them to?”

    And related news: The Consejo Nacional Electoral has yet to declare the official TOTAL results of last December’s Referendum… There is transparency fer’ya.

  45. “Would you trust an electoral system where the government gets to tabulate votes in a master computer they control, with auditors only auditing the machines the gov’t tells them to?”

    But enough about Ohio. BADOOMCHA!

    Here all week! Try the veal!

  46. So, I guess they do not value intelligence at all?

    In peons intelligence is a problem, not a feature.

    But he was elected!
    Elected!

    Yes, he was. Not really relevant here.

    It is something to think about come November.

  47. Good point. You totally shouldn’t vote for Hugo Chavez this November.

  48. Episiarch, you twit, Woody Allen was great for many years before he went batshit insane. Go watch Bananas. Now, damn you, NOW!

  49. Given that Matt Groening is practically a socialist, while Baywatch associates are rather blase politically, I would say Chavez is shooting himself in his own boot.

  50. Woody Allen was great for many years before he went batshit insane.

    I don’t know about “many years”, but 1969-77 certainly, from “Take the Money and Run” to “Annie Hall”. “Sleeper” is his most sustained comedy imo.

  51. Sleeper was pretty damn funny, too.

  52. Well how are we supposed to have a Woody Allen flamewar now that I am leaving work?

    He sucks, dude. Totally. I understand that a lot of people think he’s brilliant but he’s just a short ugly insecure douchebag who fucks his stepdaughter.

    Wasn’t Tiger Lilly enough of a warning signal regarding Woody and Asians?

  53. Wasn’t Tiger Lilly enough of a warning signal regarding Woody and Asians?

    Now that is a true statement.

    Hear me. I am your new president. From this day on, the official language of San Marcos will be Swedish.

    Silence.

    In addition to that, all citizens will be required to change their underwear every half hour. Underwear will be worn on the outside so we can check. Furthermore, all children under 16 years old are now 16 years old.

  54. Once again proving my theory:

    VENEZUELANS LOVE DAVID HASSELHOFF!

  55. Baywatch, is lewd AND it’s completely unintelligent, dumbed down, low budget writing, worst species of daytime tv in existence.

    Dumbed down? You’re saying that there was a Baywatch pilot or draft script which was smarter?

  56. Following news of Venezuela’s planned takeover of Mexican cement company Cemex, Peter Hakim, president of the Inter-American Dialogue, made a trenchant point: “They are doing such a terrible job managing the nation’s most important company, [state oil company] PDVSA, that it’s hard to imagine they’re really going to have the skill, the manpower and the knowledge to do much with [cement] companies. This is rather a cockeyed economic proposition.”

    Cemex already stated that the company will negotiate with the Venezuelan government. Many middle managers and clerks within Cemex are actually from Venezuela, following the great Venezuelan Diaspora of 1998-2001.

  57. I saw Univision for the first time yesterday. And in less than a minute I declared aloud, “I will never watch any other channel again!!!

    And the amazing thing is that WASP used to be Lonewacko!

  58. In the Spanish-language Simpson’s, what do they do with Bumblebee Man?

    I expect they make him a gringo.

    His signature line would be “dude, WTF?”

  59. I saw Univision for the first time yesterday.

    Be sure to catch the weather reports.
    Best…low front…ever.

  60. “In the Spanish-language Simpson’s, what do they do with Bumblebee Man?

    I expect they make him a gringo.”

    Funny. 🙂

    But would you believe that they make Bumblebee Man even more Mexican, with a stronger Mexican accent.

  61. Yes. Two different issues. It is good to see you finally getting this point.

    No, its good to see you finally getting this point, after years of fetishizing the democratic election of Chavez as a fig leaf for his abuses.

    The reason democracy is superior to dictatorship is because the former provides a system for checking the abuses of a tyrant and removing him, not because sprinkling magical democracy dust makes everything the government does smell like petunias.

    Again, this has been my point all along. I can’t count the number of times I have said democracy is a necessary but not sufficient condition for a free country.

    I’ll clock this as joe’s Annual Agreement With RC.

    Perhaps we can move on to the issue of when a democratically elected regime that abuses its powers loses its legitimacy?

  62. Atlantis venezuela

    Good luck!

  63. Lo hecho MAS mexicano? Cojones, como lo puedes entender?

  64. Rigoberto,
    Jeje. Orale manito, muchos a?os viviendo entre mejicanos. Que te pudeo decir?

  65. No, its good to see you finally getting this point, after years of fetishizing the democratic election of Chavez as a fig leaf for his abuses.

    Sigh. This backsliding, so disappointing.

    I have never done that. Not once. Not a single time. Every single time you accused me of that, you were wrong. I often made the point that he was a democratically legitimate leader, and never once – not one single time – did I point this out in order to make a statement for or against any of the actions he took. The entiretly of this link existed in your mind, because you failed (and, sadly, continue to fail) to understand the difference between “he is a democratically legitimate leader” and “what he is doing is right.”

    It’s one of those things you have to really, really try not to get, but you’ve always managed to come through, haven’t you?

    Perhaps we can move on to the issue of when a democratically elected regime that abuses its powers loses its legitimacy? It doesn’t. As long as that regime continues to operate within an open, democratic, accountable system, it retains its democratic legitimacy.

    Which is not to say it is doing good, or is worthy of respect.

    Because, as I had so hoped you had finally grasped, democratic legitimacy and the decency of a government are NOT THE SAME THING.

  66. I often made the point that he was a democratically legitimate leader,

    Which, again, probably isn’t true.

    In addition to the recall results flunking the Benford’s Law analysis, Doug Schoen, of Bill Clinton’s polling firm, also said he believed there was massive fraud in the recall election.

  67. “”I understand that a lot of people think he’s brilliant but he’s just a short ugly insecure douchebag who fucks his stepdaughter””

    What does that have to do his movies? The older stuff is funny. All the bank employees arguing about what the hold-up note says in Take The Money And Run. Brilliant.

    Chavez was very popular when he first ran for office and won. The people though he was for them. That was before he started his BS. The recall election may or may not have been rigged. I would say it’s likely that it was. But that doesn’t make it so, neither does Benford’s analysis or Schoen’s opinion.

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