It’s Oscar nominations week, and a jovial Bill Maher zinged out a few Hollywood jabs to start the second Real Time of the spring. But later in the show, a cranky Maher revealed a dirty little secret about travel that he and other celebrities do all the time
“I can’t wait to see who slaps who,” said Maher about the Oscars revelations this week, noting the nominations leader is Everything Everywhere All at Once,” a title which he likened to “what you see when you shine a UV light on a hotel bedspread.”
Avatar: The Way of Water was a sore spot with Maher, who noted he’s against its “Oscars so blue” nomination.
That out of the way, Maher turned to Ukraine and the decision this week to send them tanks. “Biden said they’re the most lethal weapon in our arsenal – if you don’t count the gas stove.”
For his one-on-one segment, Maher brought out Frances Haugen, the social media activist and author of the forthcoming book, The Power of One: How I Found the Strength to Tell the Truth and Why I Blew the Whistle on Facebook.
Maher lamented the rise of the TikTok generation, and how “young people can’t watch a movie,” thanks to the shorter attention spans. “We do seem to be doing an experiment on young people’s brains.”
Haugen is best known as the Facebook whistleblower, and Maher asked whether that service was “the least of the problems,” given its older-skewing audience.
“What we use in the US is the most sanitized version,” she countered. “Facebook is the product most used in the most fragile places.”
Maher also started a jihad on the phone apps, which Haugen agreed “allows us to be more insensitive,” and said the fabulous lives depicted on Instagram promote social disorders and anxiety. The sleep deprivation engendered by taking the phone to bed is also “a leading cause of depression,” she said.
In the panel discussion, Maher brought out Bari Weiss, the founder and editor of The Free Press, and former Ohio Congressman, Tim Ryan.
They had a wide-ranging discussion, going from the police beating in Memphis to nutrition failures in the US bringing on more disease, to the failure in Democratic strategy that’s taking the party toward the radical fringe from its traditional blue collar base.
One of the more interesting segments was a brief talk about the rise of artificial intelligence, which is threatening to take over white collar jobs.
Ryan noted how his biggest applause line during his campaign was that “We need to bring back shop class.” The building trades, nursing, and police work are seemingly immune from AI taking over, he indicated. “We’ll figure it out.”
The Democratic party also needs to figure out what’s wrong with its approach, the panel decided. “Most people, especially after Covid, are looking at a party that has school lockdowns, puberty blockers,” and other issues. “They want to run in the other direction.”
Maher said that schools are to blame, with kids “not learning about the American Revolution and a thousand other things.”
Ryan agreed. “We need aspiration and direction so the country can be unified,” he said. “And it’s not talking about all of this bullshit.”
The New Rules segment offered a Bill Maher confession: he flies private. And most other climate preaching celebrities do, too.
“I know what didn’t work” when it came to fixing the environment, Maher said. “Asking people to be good.” He pointed out various failures, including recycling. “When you tell most humans” about climate issues, “their response is, ‘What’s in it for me?”
“I still believe climate change is an emergency. But I don’t think we’ll win with linen grocery bags or abandoning the gas stoves.”
Maher likened flying private to heroin use. “If you do it once, you’ll never stop,” he said. “There are two kinds of people: those who fly private, and those who would if they could.”
The host pointed to his lack of having kids as a positive in the environmental wars, and then mentioned he once owned a Prius and a Tesla. But no one followed his lead, and now 80% of new vehicles are SUVs and trucks. “That’s what people want,” he said.
“It’s fun to laugh at powerful people,” Maher concluded. “That’s how I can afford to fly private. But we need to get serious,” suggesting nuclear power and more money for research.
But ultimately, the way people are wired will determine whether they will comply. So it’s not really Taylor Swift’s fault that she has a private jet. After all, “Do you want to be stuck on Southwest with a pissed-off Taylor Swift?”