Quick Thoughts: “Right Wing Radio Duck”

A quick reaction to rebelliouspixels’ “Right Wing Radio Duck,” which premiered at Open Video earlier this month and has been tearing up the intarwebs (even prompting a response from Beck himself).


The video is a great example of the technical mastery and depth of cultural knowledge we’ve seen in Jonathan McIntosh’s other work (see “So You Think You Can Be President?” and “Buffy vs Edward”). McIntosh has the form of classic Disney cartoons down pat (including the ubiquitous paranoiac pseudo-psychedelic dream sequence), and weaves Beck’s rhetoric seamlessly through the piece.

I’m left with questions at the end, though. Donald Duck, driven by constant paranoid and isolationist harangues coming from his radio, buys access to Beck’s “Insider Extreme” package (“It will explain everything that is going on…”). When it arrives, the vaguely sinister-looking contraption berates Donald Duck to face reality, stop wasting time and money on things he doesn’t need, and advises him to “GET A JOB!” Donald destroys the Insider Extreme Machine with a shotgun, wipes the dust from his hands in satisfaction (“Good riddance!”) and the piece closes to triumphant music.

If we follow the thread of ideologies through the piece, we start the anger of the Tea Party class: the world is unfair, you are (somehow) getting screwed/left behind, be angry! This anger turns into paranoia and fear, which are manipulated by Beck’s disembodied voice to a near psychotic fervor, culminated in the ill-advised purchase of access to the snake-oil Insider Extreme Club. At that point, the illusion is broken and the *new* voice in the machine turns out to only mock and abuse his only listener. However, that listener rejects what the new machine is offering and destroys it. So, my question is, what ideology fills the vacuum? Donald Duck has violently rejected the abusive voice in that machine (that he paid for with the last coins in his piggy back), but there is no indication that he has renounced the ideologies that drove him into its arms in the first place. I am left not knowing what victory has occurred here.

The distressing thing about Beck and other related cultish ideologies is that there is never a moment, within the fold, of actual revelation. There is constant enticement to deeper levels of the “inner circle,” usually for a price, but there is never a dose-of-reality “Gotcha!” moment of the kind depicted here. They are in it for the long con.

At the end of the video, there is no redemption. Donald Duck has not realized that he was being manipulated. He only heard a voice he did not like (not even did not agree with, just viscerally did not like) and silenced it. It is not even clear that his anger at the Insider Extreme Machine extends to the original voice of manipulation (he does not destroy his radio, for example). The video leaves Donald where it found him: angry, alone, and ready to pledge allegiance to the next appealing voice out of the radio.