The last time Frank Rich had a conversation with Chris Rock was in early 1996, when they and the 1950s teen heartthrob Pat Boone were thrown together in a New York television studio as panelists on Bill Maher’s old show Politically Incorrect. This time they had two conversations in a New York hotel lounge as Rock prepared for the release of Top Five, a bittersweet film comedy in which he does triple duty as director, screenwriter, and star.
We’ve just come through an election that was a triumph for Fox News and a fiasco for Obama. What do you make of it?
Jon Stewart has said the reason Fox News works better than CNN is because the people at Fox News figured out how to make themselves into victims.
So will it now be harder for Republicans to play victims?
Even in victory?
Even in victory. America — not black America, but America as a whole — started in England and was ruled by kings and queens and had a class system. I’m almost of the mind that that’s what America wants at the end of the day. Maybe America wants monopolies.
They always seem to want a Bush or a Clinton.
Maybe they just want a Bush. Maybe they want no regulations. It’s hard for me to figure out people voting against their own self-interests. At some point you go, Okay: Is that what they want?
Is it possible that they’re just angry, whether it’s anger at Obama or Washington in general, and they just want to lash out? If you’re angry, you don’t rationally consider what’s in your self-interest.
Maybe. But we had Bush for eight years. They saw what that was. Apparently a lot of people want to go back to that. A lot of people think rich people are smart.
For all the current conversation about income inequality, class is still sort of the elephant in the room.
Oh, people don’t even know. If poor people knew how rich rich people are, there would be riots in the streets. If the average person could see the Virgin Airlines first-class lounge1, they’d go, “What? What? This is food, and it’s free, and they … what? Massage? Are you kidding me?”
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