Tuesday, December 08, 2020

I no longer find Cliff Clavin funny

At one time I did.  At one time I loved writing for that character. (And John Ratzenberger played him to perfection.) 

Cliff was the fringe nut who had all these ridiculous conspiracy theories.  Everyone else in the bar knew he was full of shit and harmless so were amused by it.   With everyone spouting views it was fun to have a wacky one thrown into the mix. 

Plus, his conspiracy theories were so absurd no one in their right mind could take him seriously.

But today there are 70,000,000 Cliff Clavins and it’s no longer funny; it’s horrifying.   How can there be that many misinformed, gullible people in the United States?     A current documentary on NETFLIX helps explain why.

It’s called THE SOCIAL DILEMMA and it’s both riveting and chilling. 

The crux is that social media is insidiously gathering enormous amounts of information about you and your behavior and subtly manipulating you for the purpose of profit and persuasion.   Every time you log on to Facebook it charts your activity — what photos you look at and for how long, what you like and don’t like, what groups you’re in, what you share, what you post, etc.   And based on that you’re fed more material their complex algorithms think you want to see.  The first goal is retention — how can they better keep you logged on?  But the second is to persuade you — either what to buy, or what to believe. 

So if you’re Cliff Clavin and you like conspiracy posts, you’re gong to be fed more.  When you type something into a search engine, not everybody receives the same results in the same order.  For example, you might type in Climate Change.  Depending on your known beliefs the first things that might come up pertain to controlling it, or if you’re Cliffy, that it’s a hoax.    Now that’s disturbing. 

Social media globally is undermining democracies.  They’re the most vulnerable because they depend on citizen’s choice. 

The experts who spoke on this documentary were all current or former high echelon tech folks.  They looked straight out of SILICON VALLEY.   All super-intelligent, super-articulate, some weirder than others.   In crunching numbers they determined that misinformation travels six times faster than facts.   Cliff Clavin reaches more people than Frasier Crane, and what kind of fucked up world is that? 

What’s so maddening is that the internet is also a miracle and a God send.  Imagine getting through this pandemic if you didn’t have a way to still connect with your friends, and family.  If you couldn’t work from home.  If you were not privy to facts (should you be smart enough to choose reality).  I’m sitting at my computer banging out this rant in Los Angeles and you might be reading it in Rangoon.  Or listening to my podcast in Bhutan.   I’m awed by the app that lets me turn a flashlight on. 

But with all great innovations comes a dark side.  When Facebook created “Likes” the goal was just to add more positives in our life.  They had no idea young people would be basing their entire self worth on them, and that a lack of sufficient “Likes” was viewed as a crushing rejection.  When Russia interfered with our election in 2016, they didn’t hack into Facebook, they just used the tools that were available to them for nefarious purposes. 

I always love when people say big business should not be regulated.  Let them police themself.  They’ll be reputable, they’ll play fair.  Uh huh.  Tell that to Erin Brockovich.  Or Wells Fargo customers.   THIS is the result.  Today big business is cheerfully willing to sacrifice the country and the well-being of the planet for short-term profits.  

So who should watch over the content you’re provided?  Mark Zuckerberg?  Really?   Or perhaps a bipartisan government committee that’s only looking out for the public’s interest, not the shareholders…or the president?   We’re talking about protecting our children who are as addicted to social media as Richard Pryor was to crack.  Look how well THAT turned out.  We’re talking about preserving our democracy.  We’re talking about restoring facts and truth and reality to a lost confused delusional society.   We’re hoping to find Cliff Clavin once again a lovable nut and not a fucking asshole who’s a cancer and a threat to everything we believe in.   And the time to start is now… while we still can.  



41 comments :

Pizzagod said...

This essay moved me. I reposted it on both Facebook and Twitter.

I never expected to read it. Not that I didn't think you'd feel that way, just that I never thought about it, and never thought it would cross your mind.

Yeah, Cliff goes from buffoon to Qanon guy probably. Doesn't watch Jeopardy with his mom, but Fox News and OAN.

Sometimes you miss innocence.

Lemuel said...

I remember Brad Bird's commentary on The Incredibles DVD: "Yeah, we had to put in him somewhere."

Troy McClure said...

Preach, Ken!

I'd add the steady decline in education as a reason why so many people are gullible and ignorant. Republicans have had a vested interest in starving schools of funds. They want an electorate made up of illiterate, gun toting creationists. That's who voted for Trump and are now threatening state officials.

But as well as social media and poor education, I'd add a third and that's religion. Believing in medieval fairytales and superstitions have held civilization back for centuries. There was the infamous news some years ago of an IMAX theatre in the deep south caving in to pressure from the local hicks and editing out a reference to evolution in a dinosaur documentary. I was amazed any hicks would want to go to an IMAX anyway when they can stay home and watch Smokey and the Bandit 3.

In 2020, there are still people who not only reject science but actually view it as evil. Just look at what happened this week with that delightful idiot Letitia Wright, who's never hidden her evangelical Christianity. She shared a video on twitter by a homophobic, transphobic anti-vaccine conspiracy theorist who literally said in his own video that he doesn't understand how vaccines work and then proceeded to condemn them.

But the funniest, the most tragic and the most remarkable part was the reference to the enzyme Luciferase, which isn't actually in the vaccine, it's used as a biomarker in the research. And yes, that's right, Letitia picked up on the name of the enzyme and tweeted "Lucifer is an interesting name. *opens bible*."

There you have it, folks. Letitia Wright believes that the Coronavirus vaccine is satanic because an enzyme called Luciferase was used in the research. An enzyme produced by fireflies, its name being Latin and predating Christianity. Holy shit, she is 30,000 watts of dumb.

Lots of people on twitter pointed out the irony of an anti-science moron having played the character of a genius scientist in Black Panther.

Wright's people obviously had a word with her, because she deleted all her social media accounts.

DogDad said...

100% on the mark!

Mitch said...

I'm glad to see this revised opinion on Cliff Clavin from such an authoritative source. I seem to recall some small subconscious discomfort at the back of my mind, that he almost seemed too real. But mostly I just thought he was an amusing character at the time.

Perhaps for similar reasons, I've always had trouble watching conspiratorial shows like "X-Files" or even "Stranger Things". They look well made, but the conspiracy angles always made me feel uncomfortable. I knew it was all made up, but it always seemed like there were people that wanted to believe a little too much.

Darlene K said...

Ditto! You’ve said it the best anyone could.

VincentS said...

You don't have to tell me, Ken. I'm a progressive and somehow the powers that be managed to vilify a political movement that wants (among other things) healthcare for all that is free at the point of service, a livable wage and a job guarantee - remember the days when a person could maintain a family in comfort on a single income? Of course, the flip slide of this is that people are processing information of their own free will. As with smoking, people do detrimental things to themselves or others all the time. As for Cliff, I imagine that wherever he is when he starts a sentence with, "It's a little known fact..." everyone around him pulls out their phones and corrects him, to which he replies, "Ah, what does Google know!"

Mike Barer said...

I saw it. It was very chilling.

Anonymous said...

"A bipartisan committee looking out for the public's interest?" What world do you live in?

Just create a Dept of Censorship, a cabinet level position to monitor all free speech. Zuckerberg and his ilk would probably be okay with that. It would save them the cost of trying to filter out "bad" speech and thought. And he wouldn't have to decide where the border is between hate speech ("Jews killed Christ and desire to die") and rudeness ("Jews are ugly"). Or are bad manners out too? Generalizations ("Women are from Venus, Men are from Mars")? Pure opinions ("Trump was better President than Obama")? Bring in the New Puritans to keep us safe.

Censorship is a very slippery slope to be avoided if at all possible.

-30-

Censorship is a very

Anonymous said...

I really should proofread my comments before I hit publish.

-30-

Roger Owen Green said...

Someone mentioned the level of education. But a lot of these folks have a college education, even multiple degrees. Yet they believe the unbelievable because...what? Some dude I don't even know chastized me on FB because I didn't believe rump won the election. He cited Sylvia Powell and the "Kraken is coming." And Rudy, he of a law degree and bad hair dye and COVID.

My father used to say, "There are a lot of educated fools."

FFS said...

We are doomed. Just sayin’.

-3- said...

It'll be tough to change in a society generally run by Addicts and sociopaths.
The addiction is usually money and/or power, but if one looks at the behavior it's very clearly addict behavior, and in interviews they describe it like an addiction - the rush of the deal and the accumulation of More for satisfaction.
People keep trying to make changes by talking to addicts without treating them as such.
It'll never happen that way.

And statistics tell us that the number of sociopaths walking around in this country is in the 8 digits. How do we screen for that in our political process?
We elect the people who lie the best and are willing to spend the most money for the power.
So, it's tailored to attract and elevate sociopaths.

And it's not hard to see the results of those two primary influences in our politics.

Of course, we don't actually do politics in the USA any more. It's been reduced to sport instead, with the only goal being to Beat The Other Team.
Who was is that said "Sports is like war, but with more passion"?

Steve Bailey said...

Was it Mark Twain who said that a lie can travel halfway around the world in the time that a truth is just putting on its shoes?

Anonymous said...

1. Before Cliff Calvin, there was ‘Till Death Do Us Part, then All in the Family, etc. :
destructively vile characters normalized, softened, made lovably goofy, in sitcoms.
Even so, it is hard to imagine eventual bar-owner Archie Bunker - in his original rawest incarnation - every being accepted as a regular character at the Cheers bar.
2. The heads of most any organization or business or political party is primarily interested in maintaining power, quite often at the expense of the majority of their followers, constituents, customers, employees, and country.. The more organized and corporate a faith, the more likely its leaders veer towards criminality bigotry and right wing politics: the Christian Right, the Iranian leadership, the Catholic Church— with its long-sanctioned pedophilia making it America’s oldest uninterrupted criminal organization.
3. The white Right/GOP/GOP donor opposition to public schools- as exemplified by the currents Ed Sec - goes beyond the desire to keep the base dumb. They want to eliminate public services, like the USPS, that don’t primarily disproportionately favor the rich donors. They want to cut funds for already-underserved urban/black schools. They want to create publicly/funded private schools from which they could profit and from which they could exclude “undesirable” students ....,a return to “separate but equal.”

McTom said...

Agree completely about Cliff, but am I the only one who didn't learn anything I didn't already know from that Netflix doc? Everyone said how mind-blowing it was, but after watching it, I was all, "...and?"
I love Facebook for the fact that it reunited me with old friends in other cities I never thought I'd see again in my life. Many of those old long-distance friends are again current besties.
But I also recognize that you get what you pay for from it, and its insidious ability to spread lies is terrifying.
No idea how to put that genie back in the bottle. And the doc sure didn't help clear anything up.

Barefoot Billy Aloha said...

Yep.

The most important issue of our time.

blinky said...

Right on brother!
Who knew we would be in a time when people would say they don't think that 2+2=4 because they don't believe in Addition.

Jeff Boice said...

I agree with you 100%. And you reminded me it was time to go in and delete as much of my personal history on Google and Facebook as I can. So thanks again. Now its time to go down and prove I'm not a robot...

Barry Rubinowitz said...

I posted a recommendation of The Social Dilemma on FB a couple of months ago. I disagree with one thing you said: Facebook is not trying to convince you of anything. All they want is to own your eyes, to keep you reading things and following things, then they can sell your information to those who do want to sell you things. The more you are on FB, the more valuable you become, so they give you things you will like. So if you like "A", they will give you more "A", not "Z". And if they don't have any "A" to give you, they will give you "B", because that is close to "A". And if you like "B", then maybe you'll like "C" - and that is where people fall down the political rabbit hole. Facebook doesn't care what you think, only what will keep you on Facebook.
Instagram and TikTok may be more pernicious because they infect the young, causing them to desperately need the approval of others.
The extreme right has, to some degree, headed for Parler, where they can spread all the conspiracy theories their hearts desire without any notes from FB. QAnon is mostly a Reddit creature.
One important thing: Facebook's algorithm sucks. It works for people of limited interests - which is why they want to get people to join groups - but if you have diverse interests, or friends with diverse interests, good luck at their getting you right. I have friends who complain all the time about not seeing my posts. And I can tell when people don't see some of my posts by the lack of reaction. I guess that is a good thing, because it makes them a little less dangerous.

Anonymous said...

This documentary is a step, but unfortunately, the people who need to watch it are probably not going to--young people who are being marketed to by large media companies that just keep getting bigger.

The companies do it because they have to. It is a reality of business. It is amoral and many good people are very good at it. The problem is that modern people, especially since the domination of TV, are never told HOW to consume it and HOW it works. They simply accept it at face value. They do this from birth with parents who have have also done the same.

There is noting inherently "evil" in presenting one side or another, one product or another, or even bombarding an individual with constant messaging every day. The true evil is keeping them from being aware that these messages all have functions and purposes and may not be what they seem. The same is true with celebrities. Like fictional characters, just because they come into your home, you don't really know them. Recently Ellen Degeneres defended herself to a preselected electronic audience by questioning that, since everyone saw her every day for one hour, how could she be anything else but what they saw? The absurdity of that should have been obvious because many ubiquitous public figures turned out to be very different from their images.

If this sounds familiar, that's good because it used to be called Media Literacy, a concept that public schools have fought against for decades and colleges seem to teach less and less, opting instead to feed social outrage at aging icons in life and fiction--and where do they do it? On Facebook.

Colleges and public schools are funded quite well by corporations, as is public television. Kids are fed a steady diet of streams and video at home and in school now, with no explanation. They know how the special effects are done, but not how the market research is done that got them to watch it--and make them THINK they love it. No one wants to be told that, do they? We all are targets of Target. Again, that's business as usual, but we should be shown how it's done.

But a documentary is "boring." It's not sexy. It has no cool effects, trendy stars, pop singers tromping around pyrotechnics or "important" drama about "relevance." Yet a documentary like the one Ken is talking about could be one of the most "important" ones we can watch. It should not be the last, and we shouldn't be watching alone.

Todd Everett said...

So your pilot for the spin-off “Cliff” has reached its time?

Michael said...

Now for my political statement: The people who should be most dedicated to regulating the internet are republicans, because of a cute story about the Supreme Court. Really.

At one point, a reporter decided to track something in oral arguments: Which justice got the most laughs? It should have been no surprise that it was Antonin Scalia, who, whatever his defects, had fun with the English language and, after all, managed to be RBG's best friend in the judiciary. But they said one year the biggest laugh went to, of all people, Samuel Alito. It was a case involving violent video games and Scalia was trying to parse how much the court could regulate them. Alito said something like, "Counsel, my colleague wants to know what James Madison thought of video games."

Well, that's originalism. If the Founding Fathers determine all, then the government can regulate what didn't exist at the time. The internet did not exist. Intellectual consistency demands action.

Ha ha.

Mike said...

Oh please don’t drag Cliffy into the ugly 21st century. He doesn’t deserve that, anymore than Sam deserves to be seen through the lens of MeToo or Carla needs sensitivity training. Sigh, I’m just thankful Cheers was made when it was made, before the world lost its bloody mind.

DanMnz said...

- Dan

Let people be stupid, oh well. It's not Facebook or Google's JOB to teach people common sense. I know FIRE burns me, so I don't touch it.

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous:
"Before Cliff Calvin, there was ‘Till Death Do Us Part, then All in the Family, etc. :
destructively vile characters normalized, softened, made lovably goofy, in sitcoms."

Congratulations. You have managed to completely miss the point of All in the Family and Til Death Do Us Part

Anonymous said...

Anonymous:
"Before Cliff Calvin, there was ‘Till Death Do Us Part, then All in the Family, etc. :
destructively vile characters normalized, softened, made lovably goofy, in sitcoms."

Anonymous:
“Congratulations. You have managed to completely miss the point of All in the Family and Til Death Do Us Part.”

Hi Anonymous, it’s I, Anonymous !

I think I got the point just fine. But maybe as much as half of America didn’t.
To them - and/or the right wingers - the wife-abusing Archie wasn’t the villain of the piece, the deserving object of jokes and ridicule — he was the hero, the beleaguered victim of the program’s writers and the evil Mike Meathead Stivic.

And, for those in the viewing audience who’d ordinarily be less sympathetic to Bunker’s monstrous beliefs, occasional episodes offered up a dollop of both-siderism and instances of Bunker behavior showing that “there are good people on both sides.”
Merely by giving Archie and his (once) fringe views a weekly platform — instead of having him divorced, shunned, or jailed, as would have been the case in real life for such a man — a sitcom made him a sort of hero.

Take Hogan’s Heroes a step further, give Hitler a sitcom — with a Jewish (Kosher) Meat Head son in law — and the same thing would happen. VAnd it doesn’t help matters when a party and its donors weaponize racism for the sake of tax cuts and industry/financial deregulation
e.g Check out the Fox ad buyers
https://www.mediamatters.org/these-are-fox-news-leading-advertisers

PS Not mentioned in this thread - it is slightly off topic - is the odd fact that three of the Cheers stars are/were overly vocal supporters of Trump and the GOP.... for the tax cuts for the rich? for the disenfranchisement of voters? for the treason? for the lies and inaction on the virus? or simply because they simply watched, unmonitored, too many “All in the Family”s?





B Smith said...

"Take Hogan’s Heroes a step further, give Hitler a sitcom..."

Head for Youtube and look for "Heil Honey, I'm Home"

Anonymous said...

Anonymous:
No. You didn't get it. And you are not likely to after this missive either, which Ken may delete.

The point is that Archie Bunker is a human being. He is flawed, like we all are. Yes he is a bigot, but he is also a loving father and husband. He has admirable qualities, even while being prejudiced. You know what? That's the way we all are - our flaws may not be prejudice - but they probably are part of it. they just may be different kinds of prejudice. You and me, too.
Norman's Lear's genius in AITF, and Carroll O'Connor's, was that they could present a three dimensional human being, flaws and all, not your typical cartoon character.
You would like him to be divorced, shunned or jailed - because you would like a fairy tale caricature. But that is not real life -no matter how much you argue or call names. Then AITF would have been just like 100 other far inferior shows.
Of course the Hitler analogy is ridiculous on its face. Archie Bunker is not Hitler. Hitler is Hitler.

The lesson is that people are complicated - and flawed - everyone. You won't get it, but it must be said.

Signed,
Your namesake.

Spencer said...

Hey Ken - love the blog!

My only note in regards to Facebook: "They had no idea young people would be basing their entire self worth on them."

They had every idea. That's exactly why they did it! They knew (as you saw in the documentary), and they researched it extensively. It's not a bug, it's a feature.

SP

Tom Galloway said...

I don't recall the exact date (who knew it'd one day be significant), but right about now is my 40th anniversary of being on what became the Internet.

Yep, 40 years. Most people don't realize the ARPANet, the Internet's direct predecessor, started in 1969.

There's a *lot* of stuff that would've been done differently with the Net/Web if we'd known what would happen. Thing was, sort of similar to the current state of the (elected) Federal government, there was an unstated belief that, for the most part, its users and developers consisted of smart, originally *very* smart, people who wanted it to work well, with certain spoken and unspoken norms.

The biggest thing we fundamentally didn't realize from the start, IMO, was that every time access opened up significantly, the average smarts and understanding of what made this thing work at a sociological level regressed to the mean. Until finally it crashed right through the mean and kept going.

I mean, for the first 10 or so years, to have ARPANet access you either had to be a Computer Science professor, researcher, or grad student at a major Defense Dept. computer research center. Or in rare cases, get vouched for by one of such. The average user IQ (yes, I know about the various flaws in IQ; I'm using it as a commonly known about standin to make points) was probably in the 140-150 range.

The next group to get it started when Usenet was created at UNC-CH (where I was a CS student at the time, thus when I got on) and Duke. Good schools, good CS depts. but we were *not* MIT or Stanford CS. Yeah, some of us were at that level, but most were just a bit closer to the mean. Over the 80s, more and more schools and companies got on, with the final phase starting when Penn State gave access to every undergrad. The month of September was dreaded, as there'd be an onslaught of newbies from schools who had to be taught the social capital aspects of how to use the 'Net.

Then AOL, Compuserve, Prodigy, etc. got connected. And it became "Perpetual September". We'd pretty much hit the mean, and things just got worse from there. Far from the 'Net being a cooperative of people who wanted it to work and understood how and why it did, it became a product for everyone. And people who wanted to take advantage of what it made possible for not-so-nice benefits to themselves...

So, yeah, it's great that literally anyone in the US and most of the world can get on the 'Net and make use of things we didn't dream of in the early days. But we really should've realized that instead of wider access just letting people we thought would be good Netizens and valuable contributors, it converted the 'Net to consumers, with many wolves looking to take advantage of, well, literally everyone.

Forgetful Phil said...

Thanks for posting that one Mr Levine.
For the past few months I've pondered whether the character of Cliff (amongst many others) may have had a significant influence on shaping public acceptance of people with cringe-worthy personalities. Remember that old book "Seduction of the Innocent"? It was in regard to comic books during the 1950's but the general premise applies even better to TV shows of the last 40 years.
So I agree with what anonymous said. Which anonymous? I don't know which anonymous is which, and they were both right even though they disagreed with one another, which makes it even harder to agree with either of them, although I do.
But yeah. "Cheers" worked in it's day because a public bar was the place anybody could go and meet a bunch of totally different people with totally different attitudes. Up until 1990's a bar was the place that sorted people like Cliff Claven out by having them interact with broad range of people with diverse opinions that forced them to reconsider their own misconceptions & blinkered attitudes. But ever since the internet, people just gravitate toward the comfort-zone of like-minded people that tend to foster obsessive trains of thought.
Sigh.... I miss "Cheers". My local pub was once a lot like that. The world seemed to be much happier place. Or maybe I was just too drunk back in those days to notice it wasn't?

Francis Dollarhyde said...

Rewatching "The X-Files" these days is a sobering experience. The most laudable aspect of the show's legacy is surely "The Scully Effect" - a generation of young women who were inspired to pursue careers in STEM fields - but goddamn, is Mulder and by extension the show's narrative raison d'ĂȘtre problematic. I watch "The X-Files" now and when Mulder invokes conspiracy theories involving a shadow government controlling everything, cover-ups, insidious inoculation programmes on an unsuspecting populac, and all manner of wild theories that are almost always proven to be *correct* over Scully's rational scepticism...all I can think of is how the show's edgy, paranoid cool has metastasised into the disproportionately influential right-wing socio-cultural paradigm. These days "The X-Files" seems to have more kinship with InfoWars, Alex Jones, anti-vaxxers, Deep State theorists, Trumpists, and hell, the entire Republican Party.

Basically, I used to think Mulder was cool, now I think he's a dick.

Mike Doran said...

This post has me at something of a loss.

See, I recall reading that when the Cliff Clavin character was created - with quite a bit of input from John Ratzenberger - he was supposed to be "the bar know-it-all".
The guy who always had the answers to the trivia questions - who won the home run championship five years ago, how long it took to get from one Boston location to another, which actor played the bad guy in last night's Perry Mason rerun ... that sort of thing.
In all the years I watched Cheers, I can't recall politics ever coming up, one way or the other - and Boston was always a political hot spot, then as now (and as a lifelong Chicagoan, I have some knowledge of political hotspotism).
To the best of my recollection, Cliff Clavin never displayed any kind of bigotry or prejudice - social, racial, religious, political, anything - he was just generally annoying.
That's what made him funny - that and the fact that he was usually wrong about what he was spouting off on.

I have to ask The Question:
Is this about Cliff Clavin - or is it about John Ratzenberger, who has identified himself, post-Cheers, as a political conservative?
Back in an earlier day, Ed Asner usually kept his left-of-center political beliefs to himself; it was only when he spoke up about them that his TV image took some hits.
And it's not limited to the present day; many performers, on both the Left and the Right, have gotten grief for speaking (and writing) their views, going back to the Red scares of the '50s, and even farther back than that.

Over the many years, I've come to believe that hyper-partisan politics - extremeLeft and extremeRight both - are playing out as manifestations of mental imbalance.
America is not benefitting from this.
The best aspect of Joe Biden's becoming President is that he is a grown-up - he thinks before he speaks, and he listens as he thinks.
And that's as political as I'm gonna get around here.

Anonymous said...

Just want to point out that I'm not the "Anonymous" that brought up Archie Bunker, nor the other "Anonymous" that is arguing with that person.

I'm the "Anonymous" speaking out for media literacy. I don't care who teaches it or how, it's just a matter of getting it into children's heads because it is their right to know what is going on around them.

I can't identify myself because I'm too close for comfort.
So just call me Nancy Grain of Dussault.

Skoonix said...

Great post, Ken. Love this website and the podcast!!! Happy holidays.

Andrew said...

Anonymous (the one who is critical of All in the Family), have you ever heard Mel Brooks describe why he makes fun of Hitler and the Nazis in The Producers and other comedies? Because if you can mock them, that means they are a defeated enemy.

Kudos to the other Anonymous, for a wonderful description of Archie Bunker and what makes him an engaging character.

Unknown said...

Thanks for “showing your work”. You hit every point.

mike schlesinger said...

My recollection, which admittedly may be hazy, is that in the first season Cliff really was a know-it-all, but in the second season he sort of morphed into a spouter of nonsense that may or may not have been true. And that's when the character started becoming less funny. As for his real-life politics, I've always held the belief that whatever a person does "after five" is their own business (as long as they're not breaking any serious laws, of course). I'd miss out on a lot of great movies and TV if I judged people by their politics.

Buttermilk Sky said...

Cliff was a harmless, amusing eccentric but he metastasized seventy million times. You're allowed to hate him because he is killing the organism we all share.

Sakaridis said...

Mike Doran: Is this about Cliff Clavin - or is it about John Ratzenberger, who has identified himself, post-Cheers, as a political conservative?

Ding ding ding!!! We have a winner!