NRA PR called me today. They wanted to know why TTAG hadn’t given Colion Noir’s new show Noir any love. The simple answer: I didn’t have any love to give. While I wholeheartedly support the NRA’s campaign for the non-OFWG (Old Fat White Guy) demographic, while I’m glad the gun rights group hired an African-American spokesman, I found first Noir self-indulgent. Bland. Boring. Not in any big, dramatic way. In a “meh” kinda way – knowing that the show will get better with time. Once Mr. Noir grasps the Linda Ronstadt principle . . .
Before Heart Like A Wheel, country singer Linda Ronstadt struggled to find commercial success. Producer Peter Asher crafted the album according to a simple, over-riding principle: less is more. Asher made the audience wait for Ronstadt’s vocals. He balanced her astoundingly pure, powerful voice with equally mellifluous backup singers and lush instrumental accompaniment. He guided her to achingly beautiful songs that built to emotional crescendos. It was an enormous hit.
Noir needs to take a similar approach to his new show. His cocaine-fueled rants – or non-drug, pro-gun equivalent thereof – work well in small bytes. OK, they’ve grown a bit serious-minded of late. But 17:00 minutes of mucho macho machine-gun wit is about 15:00 too much. Noir (the person) needs to vary the pace and share the limelight. I mean really share the limelight. Not trade barbless barbs with a “who likes short shorts” Ed McMahon wanna-be.
Not to put too fine a point on it, Noir (the person) needs to chill the F out. Or at least feature a foil or two who can genuinely stand-up to, and disagree with, the Noirster. Think Top Gear’s trifecta of jobbing journos. In fact, Noir is the Jeremy Clarkson of guns: the alpha everyman who combines passion for product, a nose for cultural touchstones and good old-fashioned bombast. Yes but – Top Gear isn’t Jeremy Clarkson all the time, every time. And it isn’t called Clarkson.
The NRA PR flack said Noir was aimed at a non-gun guy mainstream audience. She didn’t specify minority or hipster newbies, but point taken. Taken, but not made. “Why the hell do I have to call up a guy to Cerakote my gun like I’m making some back alley drug deal?” Noir (the person) demands. “I can get on nike.com right now and make a pair of shoes with more colors than the colors of a Benetton ad.” And then something about expensive guns in cheap boxes. What’s cerakote? Who’s Benetton? Who cares? Not newbies.
But the Inside Baseball kvetching sure caught the eye of the anti-gun, left-leaning press. The NRA’s Hot New Web Show For Youngs Is Hilariously Bad Poser Garbage gawker.com pronounces.
The folks at Reason magazine, who love guns but know a bullshit pander when they see one, have a compelling list of all the problems with episode one of “Noir.” Well, almost all. They forgot to mention the faux-MTV rough cuts and self-consciously cool floaty camera shots, or the cringe-inducing “urban” script copy dropping out of Noir’s mouth like it was written by a white Mitch McConnell intern on summer break from Liberty University.
Needless to say, Gawker gets it hilariously, badly wrong (with a touch of Uncle Tom racism thrown in for good measure). Cringe-inducing or not – and the Smith & Wesson Shield review was laden with leaden metaphors – Colion writes his own scripts. And Noir (the show) isn’t pandering to anyone. Would that it were! At the risk of earning a Gawker diss for pretentious prose, Noir lacks firearms Fingerspitzengefühl. These aren’t the water cooler gun debates Noir is looking for. You know; if Noir was looking for a debate.
Which he bloody well should. Enough with the monologues! I would dearly love to watch Colion enter the lion’s den to debate an anti-gunner. I know he’s never done it on camera before, but the man’s got lawyer chops. More than that, he needs to break out of his artistic strait jacket, take some chances and have some fun. And then STFU and let someone else have the floor.
F. Scott Fitzgerald famously pronounced there are no second acts in American lives. But there are double-acts. Noir (the person) needs at least one maybe two more people to balance his pistol-packing persona. The panel idea – for which our Nick Leghorn and Kirsten Joy Weiss auditioned – would have been far more effective than the debut’s format. The NRA’s playing coy about future episodes, or who’s producing Noir. I nominate Peter Asher.