Friday, March 6, 2009
New Louis C.K Interview (A Must Read Article That Everyone Should Check Out) Where He Says Some Real Truths
I spoke with C.K. by phone while he was in Des Moines, Iowa, on a stop in his latest national tour, Louis C.K.: Hilarious. During our interview, he nibbled on a club sandwich and spoke in a rumbling baritone that sounded like Darth Vader with a better sense of humor.
VF Daily: As somebody who has watched your rant on Conan no less than 23 times in the past week alone (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jETv3NURwLc), I am now convinced that you're both a prophet and a slightly cooler version of my grandpa when he gets on one of his nostalgia kicks.
Louis C.K.: Thanks, man. I definitely don't think of myself as a prophet, though. I guess I just hit a chord with people. It's funny, I started doing that bit on stage, and then the Conan spot was coming up and I wasn't sure if I wanted to do it. I've been trying to get enough material for another special, and I knew this would be a great bit for the hour. So my instinct was not to do it on Conan so I wouldn't overexpose it. But, well, a lot of shit was happening in October and there was this bad feeling in the air; people thought they were losing everything. It just seemed like the right time to talk about it. I was genuinely confused by the doom and gloom. Was anybody really pleased with the way things had been before it all bottomed out? From what I saw, the more possessions we had, the more miserable we were.
You seem genuinely delighted that the foundations of capitalism are crumbling. Are you just naturally a glass-half-full kinda guy, or do you think consumerism has corrupted us?
I just don't trust any of it. Every time I read something about how there's been another ridiculous climb of the Dow Jones, there's a part of me that goes, “This can't be good.” None of this is real money. You know what I mean? It's not like there's actually more of anything. It's just ideas. When people are getting richer and richer but they're not actually producing anything, it can't end well.
Another Great Depression might do us some good. It'd be like economic rehab.
That's exactly what it is. It's forcing us back to reality. “Wait, I only have the money I make from work? How am I supposed to live on that?” Figure it out. We've spent so many years being spoiled that we don't know how to live anymore.
Has technology spoiled us?
It's definitely spoiled us. When you have a slightly slow signal on your PDA, or it takes more than 30 seconds to download a picture of Axl Rose on your iPhone, and that irritates you, something is very, very wrong. “This is too slow!” Well, why wouldn't it be a little slow? Why do people think that they're owed a perfect day as a consumer? The phones are as good as they are. But Americans feel like it's in the Constitution that our phones should work perfectly all the fucking time and that we get the most bang for our buck. We think it's literally a human right, like it was mentioned in Thomas Paine's “Rights of Man” or something. An American is somebody who could be anywhere — at the ends of the earth, in the middle of nowhere — and if they hit that one pocket where their cell service isn't great, they'll look up at the sky and scream, “What the fuck!!” Jesus, man, calm down.
Technology was supposed to save us, giving us jetpacks and robot maids and making life easier. What went wrong?
I think people just got numb to it all. It seems like the better it gets, the more miserable people become. There's never a technological advancement where people think, “Wow, we can finally do this!” It's always, “We can't do that yet? Why not?!” And I think a lot of it has to do with advertising. Americans have it constantly drilled into our heads, every fucking day, that we deserve everything to be perfect all the time.
That's true. Most successful commercials are based on selling entitlement.
They all try to remind you of how cool you are. “You're so cool, you park your S.U.V. on a mountainside when you climb.” What? No, I don't do that at all. Nobody I know is doing that. “You deserve the best cause you work so hard!” Actually, no, I don't work hard. I waste most of my time at work. Everybody does.
Last week, Obama promised that “We will rebuild, we will recover, and the United States of America will emerge stronger than before.” Do you believe him?
I do. I believe in the guy and I think he can do it. When he mentioned something about dropping out of high school not being an option anymore, I was like, “This is awesome!” I was actually hoping he was going to make it a law or something. I thought he was gonna say, “And so we're going to put kids in jail that don't go to high school.” I was so excited.
How do we save ourselves? Are we just fucked, or is there a way to kick our bad habits?
It'll take care of itself. If it gets bad enough, people will just adapt. They won't be able to afford cable anymore, or go to Rent-A-Center and buy a fucking leather couch, or fill their homes with all this shit on credit that they shouldn't have and don't need. They'll have to go out to the garage and find that old bicycle they've neglected over the years and fill the tires up. And they'll have to start taking care of the shit they already own instead of just throwing it away and going out and buying new shit that doesn't work. And maybe they'll learn how to bring a little quiet into their lives again. Just stop all the constant screaming of technology and media and video games. Maybe get to a point where every decision has more impact, where what you do is not based on what you want or think you need but whether or not you'll starve if you don't have it.
Starvation is not a big concern for most Americans.
It's really not. And starvation can be character building. There's a big difference between “I need to do this because I fucking deserve the best” and “I need to do this so I don't freeze to death in the winter”.
A little less time on Twitter would be good for everybody.
Exactly! Twitter and Facebook and MySpace; all that stuff makes you warped. We've all basically given ourselves data entry jobs. I've actually heard people say things like, “Aw shit, I have to update my Twitter.” Really? You have to? That's a big priority for you?
Do you have any faith whatsoever that the “crappiest generation”, as you've called them, is going to save us?
We'll be O.K. Everything is cyclical. It's amazing that people expect it to just get better and better and better and it'll never burst. We're babies. It's like the New York Yankees. It's fun to watch a team win the World Series and then watch their players get older and a new generation comes in and they're basically starting from scratch again. But Americans aren't willing to do that. We're like the Yankees. We just keep buying steroid-pumped players for millions of dollars and expect to win every year. And when we start losing, we get moody and pissed off and resentful, instead of asking, “What should I be doing differently?” Nobody wants to change, because the TV keeps telling them, “No, you deserve the best! This is all yours! You've got it coming!”
This could be your Tom Brokaw moment. He documented the Greatest Generation, and you have the Crappiest Generation.
The Greatest Generation gets too much credit. Those World War II guys, if they had all the shit we have today, they'd be assholes too. It's just circumstantial. It's what you're called on to do that makes you great. We haven't been called on to do anything but buy shit and get fat. Even after 9/11, during the darkest moment of our recent history, the President told us, “Go shopping.” That's how we were told to uphold American values; go out and fucking buy more shit. So what were we supposed to do?
When the time comes to trade in our gas-guzzling cars for donkeys and clanking cans, will you be the first to volunteer?
Fuck that. I drive an Infiniti and I love it. I'm keeping it. Everybody can go to hell.
I guess there's a big divide between satire and real life, huh?
There sure the fuck is. I've got a nice apartment and a nice car. I earned it and you can kiss my ass.