Glenn Beck Unveils His Next Nutty Idea to His Followers at His Summer Gathering: I'm the Man in the Moon
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"The Man in the Moon" is a history of Earth as told by the Man in the Moon. Beck plays both the Moon, who speaks in slow, elliptical observations, and an Oz version of himself, who cranks levers and jokes about his ego as he paces the show's speed-tour of geological, Biblical and American history. The story is told via projections onto a giant helium balloon flanked by two full-sized movie screens, supported by a few choreographed dance routines. The result is an impressionistic, visually engaging experience best suited for children under the age of 12 and older Beck fans on hallucinogens.
As a trial balloon for mainstream influence, the "Man in the Moon" is a qualified success. There is nothing in it to infuriate an ethnic group or trigger a boycott. While not quite rising to the level of "a new American art form," the visuals helped sustain interest during otherwise dull recountings of Noah's Ark and Plymouth Rock. In 90 minutes, there is no progressive bashing. The closest thing to a political stance is the pro-Union perspective of a Civil War scene. The only historical figure to get an extended cameo on Beck's moon balloon is John F. Kennedy, a liberal Democrat. "Man in the Moon" even ends with a trick on conservative reflexes. The atomic bombings of Japan are depicted not as the heroic capstones of Allied triumph, but as bummers that signal a descent into darkness and leave the Moon despondent over the future of the human "beasts" on the planet he lovingly calls "Blue."
This scattershot, sentimental, and apolitical depiction of human history ends with Beck in Moonface delivering a soliloquy in his best Deathbed Yoda voice. Over a sonic bed of Hollywood strings and horns adagio, the Moon utters a string of cryptic clichés about light and darkness, choices and destiny. The dialogue, which reads like a bag of fortune cookies written by Paulo Coelho, represents Beck's first real dramatic role other than himself.
The Moon isn't going to win any awards, but Beck's performance does evoke a sort of melancholy. Sounding like a broken old man giving his last will and testament, the Moon ends by scolding the human race for its arrogance, telling them, "You have tremendous potential. Potential for joy or hate. Light or dark. Life or death. But in the end you choose. What a gift. What a joy to witness. All of your wildest hopes and dreams and desires. All of the things you feel are impossible are in reality too small for your potential. Bright journeys and powerful dreams are about to dawn, but so are man's oldest nightmares. It will be your choice."
A few seconds later, the big balloon fades to black. The show is over. American Dream Labs is born, the next stage of Beck's Republic reclamation project begun.
Only, nobody in the USANA amphitheater seems to appreciate the significance of the moment. The seconds tick by without any sign of applause. Now people are standing up, gathering their things. Those still in their seats appear to be looking around for some sort of explanation. They love Beck because they think he's funny, but tonight was not funny. They love him because they think he's a great patriot, but this, this Moon thing, it was no patriotism they recognized.
As the window for any kind of audience response closed forever, 16,000 thoughts turned to the subject of rental car location, and from there to the chances of beating traffic out of the gravel pits and subdivisions of Salt Lake's West Valley.
"Man in the Moon" may have proved Beck's ability to work with historical material in moderation. But even if American Dream Labs produces toned down products, he'll still face the hurdles of his own name, face, and ego, none of which have any mass appeal beyond the people who already love him. Most Americans who know anything about Beck don't like him, and he knows it. On Friday morning, he told a standing-room audience in the Grand America during a "Beck Unplugged" event that the best thing he could do for the growth of American Dream Labs was to disappear for a while.