Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

It's 3 p.m., let's watch Siskel & Ebert advocate for the overthrow of the U.S. government

It’s 3 p.m.! Let The A.V. Club briefly make use of the waning hours of your productivity with some pop culture ephemera pulled from the depths of YouTube.


The late Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert helped redefine the film criticism game, not just through their signature (and copyrighted) thumbs up/thumbs down system, but also by putting lively, thoughtful, frequently contentious movie critiques in an easily accessible setting. That “liveliness”—i.e., acerbic, biting wit—famously bled sometimes into their off-camera interactions, too; there are a lot of videos out there of the duo breaking up extended (and probably very boring) promo shoots by aggressively mocking each other for the amusement of themselves and their crew. Sometimes that pointed commentary was fraternally personal, as Ebert hit Siskel’s occasional tongue-tiedness, and Siskel went after his partner’s weight. And sometimes, it involved one of them calling for the overthrow of the U.S. government.

That last one comes from this especially grumpy example of the “Siskel & Ebert rant” form, which starts out with the usual sniping, before descending into something much more worthy of the title of “rant.” Spurred on by a mispronunciation of the word “dire”—and thus the apparent invocation of the band Dire Straits, which appears to have symbolized some kind of great cultural white mediocrity in Siskel’s mind—he goes off on WASPS, and, egged on by a mocking Ebert, ends up calling for the complete overthrow of the U.S. government. (Sample dialogue: “They don’t get enough shit! And they have the money! They have all the money!” As was so frequently the case, Siskel’s critiques were more spot-on than not.) It’s all very tongue-in-cheek, while also being fascinatingly awkward, bitter, and funny.

If you need a palate cleanser, we get it. Here’s the two calling each other fat and dumb, instead; it’s a relatively light change of pace.