I remember 1996. It wasn't that long ago, but a lot has changed in the rantosphere n the 15 years since this collection of Dennis Miller monologues from his HBO TV show.
What has changed most that leaves this printed collection of rants is the immediacy of Facebook and Twitter. Nowadays, as soon as something happens we cram our response into 140 characters and broadcast it out on our social networks without apology or hesitation as to who might read it and how it might sound. In comparison , Miller's rants are to today's tweets as an illuminated vellum manuscript is to Miller's paperback.
For starters, despite the characters on paper, it is clear these are transcripts of spoken performance in front of an audience. If you read closely, for repeated phrases and sly grins evident in the text, you can tell where the laugh lines were, when Miller waited for a beat, reinforced his joke, and followed (or lead) the audience to a deeper appreciate of his meaning. It’s a subtle thing, but entirely missing from the Facebook/Twitter forms of communication which are purely one way and curiously isolated from an audience despite how quickly they find a response. Facebook/Twitter are rapid-fire monologue, not dialogue of any kind.
Also distinctively archaic is Miller's trademark opening "Now I don't mean to get off on a rant here", while in today's FB/Twitter a rant is exactly what we intend perhaps because we are not facing an audience, and his equally-expected closing "Of course, that's just my opinion, I could be wrong." Today we no longer apologize or try to disarm the criticisms that might follow from the rant we just posted. We meant it, we said it, offense or none, and besides, 140 characters doesn't leave enough room for apologies. Deal with it.
Miller comes off, against today's social milieu, as well-thought, deep, and almost mannered and gentle, and that is an accomplishment and a measure of just how far (down?) we have come in our social communications in just 15 years. Not that Miller is inoffensive, but rather he is an equal-opportunity offender, who despite his disclaimer, doesn't think he's wrong and usually isn't. At times he's down right prescient. My favorite is his definition of the ideal TV reality show participant (before Big Brother, American Idol, The Bachelor, and any of the Kardashian/Osbourne/Anna Nicole/Playboy series):
And while most of us are content to rubberneck the carnage on the berm of the road, too many people are desperately striving to actually be the car wreck, and I'm not sure we should feel compelled to recognize them. (p. 115)
Pros: Funny, almost as relevant today as a decade ago, satirical humor, a quick read Cons: Some subjects are obviously dated, Miller's style may not be for everyone The Bottom Line: Dennis Miller - The Rants is a collection of over 40 monologues that Miller delivered on his HBO show in the 90's. Funny, thought provoking, and still relevant! I am a long time fan of Dennis Miller and always appreciated his style of … more
I love reading and writing about what I have read, making the connections and marking the comparisons and contrasts. God has given man the amazing power to invent language and the means to record it which … more
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Dennis Miller and Kevin Rooney assemble a collection of rants on dope-addled baseball players, do-nothing politicians, America's acceptance of violence--all from Miller's caustic, incisive, hilarious point of view.