I wasn’t sure I heard Bill Maher right when he sat on his HBO stage and veered off into Trump-style craziness. I’ve always thought craziness was contagious, and Maher proved it.
He has made a handsome living weaving political satire into his comedic performances. He’s been a steadfast critic of Donald Trump, and Maher has even put his money where his opinions are.
Still, his neoliberalism doesn’t always make sense, and what he said about white males on his cable show November 11 highlighted my point. Looking into a camera, Maher, a satirist, had the gall to say his whiteness and heterosexuality were liabilities in 2022 America.
I thought his punchline was coming; it wasn’t. Maher meant every word of what he said during an interview with Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, a gay, white male.
“It’s not a bad thing when the Democratic Party wants to look like America,” Maher told Polis. “It is a good thing, but the question, though, is: Is it the priority? … Is it more of a priority than things like merit that should matter more?”
Is Maher suggesting women and non-white males who are homosexual lack merit? Is he calling checking-all-the-political boxes the yardstick for putting together a strong, progressive presidential ticket?
Nothing I’ve seen in politics lets me side with pot-smoking Maher on this. If he were right, how would candidates like Herschel Walker make strong runs for political office? How would Maher explain J.D. Vance, Bill Hagerty, Brett Kavanaugh or Neil Gorsuch?
The only boxes they check were white male and straight.
In Maher, I see what I’ve come to see in too many white males who claim they view the world through progressive lenses. They rail against conservative thought, but they come across as petty and emptyheaded when they call whiteness a “disadvantage.”
What America are they not looking at?
For in this America, straight, white males reign like Caesar. They control boardrooms or own businesses outright. They guide educational curriculums across the country, and they hold most of the governorships.
The 10 richest people in the U.S. are white males, although Alice Walton, MacKenzie Scott and Jacqueline Mars crack the Top 20. In my eyes, the latter three look like white women. But they don’t check the invisible box Maher obsesses over.
Politics is a money game, and money is power. Maher has spoken about this influence of money countless times in his monologues and in his give-and-take with guests on his program, and since money is in the hands of white men who are straight, he has no ground to stand on.
He’s as privileged as the rest of them, even if his wealth isn’t measured in the billions.
I often paint Maher as more of a contrarian than a political sage. He brags too often about his love of marijuana and his atheism, and he is unafraid to take on progressives when they travel too far from the range.
His satire, which has emboldened Maher to use the n-word, serves the comic well on most occasions. It fails him when he makes crazy claims that are more associated with Trumpians than with mainstream liberals.
I can’t know what Bill Maher was thinking when he tagged white males like him as victims. Actually, I do know: He wasn’t thinking at all.