You know my opinion of "crowdfunding" but I think I've finally stumbled upon a worthwhile creative project made possible by Kickstarter. I know, I know. I never thought we'd see the day either.
This documentary, "The Brainwashing of My Dad", explores a phenomenon that far too many of us know far too well – when a normal person capable of living a normal, happy life turns into a rage-spewing, hateful right wing reactionary thanks to a steady diet of talk radio and eight hours per day in front of Fox News. How many fathers, mothers, friends, husbands, children, and once-bearable uncles have gone from being welcome parts of our lives to nearly unbearable sources of bile and hate and pretty much non-stop bitching. How many of us, in short, have lost someone to the right-wing noise machine?
I have an old friend, a high school classmate, whose family I got to know back in the day. Her dad was one of the dopiest, sweetest, nicest people I've ever met. His life revolved around the White Sox and sitcom-level Dad Jokes. He had not, to the best of anyone's knowledge, uttered a word about a serious topic in his life. I did detect some underlying South Side racism, but that was so common among people in the area that it barely registered. Over the past twenty years he has slowly descended into the Fox/AM Radio cesspool and is now, from second-hand reports, your typical Angry Old Asshole. He rants about anyone and everything, refers to Obama solely as "the sand nigger," and blames everything from local traffic to the global economy on The Liberals. He is probably going to die alone in a nursing home because none of his family can stand being around him anymore.
Sadly, I'd be willing to bet that we all have similar anecdata. Getting crotchety with age is not new; people age, the world changes around them, and they grumble about it. Unfortunately there's nothing cute and Archie Bunker-ish about the Fox brand of senility. Is it fair, though, to use the term "brainwashing"? We could debate the semantics, but this much is certain for anyone who has watched Fox News for an hour or two or spent an entire afternoon on the AM talk part of the dial: there is no way that a person could be normal after hours and hours of daily exposure to this for an extended period of time. There's just no way. You could not listen to Rush Limbaugh every day for two years and come out on the other side undamaged. You could not watch Fox News all day, every day (as many of its elderly viewers do) without developing a fear-based, wildly inaccurate view of the world around you.
Surely some people are born wingnut assholes who need no help from Fox. It sure is unpleasant, though, to see a person capable of living a very normal life turning into a Dittohead…forwarding ridiculous emails, subjecting you to all the talking points, and going on rants that are as tired as they are offensive. Will we learn anything that most of us don't already know from experience in this film? Probably not. Perhaps it will help to know that we are not alone, and if we're lucky it might save a few people from wandering the same shrill, dumbed-down path.