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<nettime> Time-Warner (HBO) is supporting tactical media
Steve Cisler on Thu, 8 May 2003 16:17:00 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Time-Warner (HBO) is supporting tactical media

So now Time-Warner (HBO) is supporting tactical media...

Is You Wicked?

May 7, 2003

James Baker, the former secretary of state who helped make
two Bushes president, the first by sniping at
Massachusetts, the second by snatching away Florida, is an
extremely careful man.

A dignified diplomat with a deep fear of ridicule, Mr.
Baker always keeps his suit jacket and his public
utterances buttoned.

That is why I was dumbfounded one recent night to see him
being interviewed on HBO by a hip-hop guy wearing fatigues,
shades, a skullcap and bling-bling and talking like a
British gangsta/Rasta rapper.

The young man was asking a skeptical and increasingly
impatient Mr. Baker whether it was wise for Iraq and Iran
to have such similar names.

YOUNG MAN: Isn't there a real danger that someone give a
message over the radio to one of them fighter pilots,
saying, `Bomb Ira——' and the geezer doesn't heard it
properly and bombs Iran instead of Iraq?

MR. BAKER: No danger.

YOUNG MAN: How does you make
countries do stuff you want?

MR. BAKER: Well, the way you deal with countries on foreign
policy issues . . . is you deal with carrots and sticks.

YOUNG MAN: But what country is gonna want carrots, even if
it's like a million tons of carrots that you're giving over

MR. BAKER: Well, carrots - I'm not using the term
literally. You might send foreign aid - money, money.

YOUNG MAN: Well, money's better than carrots. Even if a
country love carrots and that is, like, their favorite
national food, if they get given them——

MR. BAKER: Well, don't get hung up on carrots. That's just
a figure of speech.

YOUNG MAN: So would you ever send carrots? You know, is
there any situation——

MR. BAKER: No, no.

YOUNG MAN: What about if there was a famine?

Carrots, themselves? No.

The interview was a hilarious classic in the seldom-seen
subgenre of international relations humor.

Mr. Baker could outfox Al Gore but not Ali G. The
31-year-old British satirist, whose new HBO show has
already become a cult favorite among high school and
college kids, came to America to do the same sort of
interviews he did in England, putting unwitting V.I.P.'s on
the spot.

With his white-gangsta-rapper-wannabe persona, Sacha Baron
Cohen, a brilliant graduate of Cambridge, sends up the
vacuity of the culture in an era when putting people on TV
who attract the right demographic is more important than
putting people on TV who know what they're talking about.

But the interviews depend on the subject's not recognizing
Ali G or even realizing that he's a comedian.

Ali G scammed Mr. Baker and others into granting interviews
by sending them flattering letters on fancy stationery from
United World Productions, inviting them to be part of a
six-part series for Channel 4 on British TV aimed at
explaining the U.S. Constitution to young people.

With his crew, Mr. Cohen went into Mr. Baker's conference
room in a dark suit and put on his garish Ali G outfit
before Mr. Baker came in.

As in England, Mr. Cohen has left a trail of irritated
interviewees in his wacky wake.

Marlin Fitzwater had his doubts when Ali G showed up
wearing a red jumpsuit and high-tops and asked inane
questions. Like Mr. Baker, Mr. Fitzwater figured that Ali G
was dressing for his "hippie" audience. But he ended the
interview after Ali G asked him whether Hillary Clinton
drank "from the fairy cup."

"I said, `You're an idiot,' " Mr. Fitzwater recalled. "I'd
never been lied to like that. I was two steps away from
calling the sheriff."

Donald Trump, who walked out of an interview when Ali G
tried to pitch the idea of a glove to eat ice cream cones
with, recalled: "I thought he was seriously retarded. It
was a total con job. But my daughter, Ivanka, saw it and
thought it was very cool."

James Woolsey was good-natured when Ali G brought up the
grassy knoll and asked, "Who shot J. R.?" Richard
Thornburgh was patient when Ali G misinterpreted the
meaning of hung juries. And Brent Scowcroft didn't flinch
when Ali G asked him, "Did they ever catch the people who
sent Tampax through the mail?"

"It was anthrax," Mr. Scowcroft corrected pleasantly.

Ali G is wicked. And to him, that's a compliment.  


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