Tonight I watched “It’s Bad For Ya,” George Carlin’s final nationally televised performance. The entire show is available on YouTube (Below is Part I of VII). The show was broadcast live on March 1, 2008, only a few months prior to Carlin’s death (due to a heart attack, on June 22, 2008).
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Carlin opened the show by announcing that he was 70 years old. In Parts I and II, he speaks bluntly about society’s failure to deal frankly with death. It’s impossible to watch this performance without feeling the irony. At one point, he states:
So don’t be afraid to get old. It’s a great time of life. You get to take advantage of people and you’re not responsible for anything! You can even shit in your pants!
He dissects many other topics, including law, religion, children, education and national pride. He shows no patience for the way our culture handles any of these issues. His performance gets especially dark when he asserts that there is essentially no hope for us, ecologically speaking—he predicts that in 40 or 50 more years, the entire planet will be a massive ball of pollution. At many points in the performance, it’s not easy to tell whether Carlin retains any personal optimism. Is his performance intentionally injected with hyperbole or is this really and truly what Carlin thinks. I suspected the latter, but I don’t really know.
I heard many gems during the performance (meaning that I heard many things with which I agree wholeheartedly). Here’s my favorite, this one delivered during the topic of society’s often-stated goal that “we should teach our children to read.”
It’s not important to get children to read. It’s much more important to teach children to question what they read. They should be taught to question everything. Everything they read and everything they hear. They should be taught to question authority . . .