Do you have any friends who are serious artists? Would you like to wind them up and watch their heads explode? Tell them you like Bob Ross.
You know, the soft-spoken, spongy-haired bearded guy who used to teach people how to paint on PBS. If you’re able to keep a straight face and pretend you’re not riling them up, artists — particularly those who sketch and paint — will lose their minds listing the reasons why Bob Ross is not a real artist, and why his work is not worth your appreciation. (If you really want to see them go berserk, add that you like Thomas Kincaid. But let’s not veer into the weeds too much, here.)
Why don’t artists like Bob Ross? Because what he does, to them, is easy. There’s no soul in it. It’s the rote production of landscapes using brush techniques and visual tricks, creating images that are near literal interpretations of their real-world counterparts. The methods used allow a sort of mass production of paintings. Anything done with so low a goal and so little thought, some say, can’t be real art.
Maybe they’re right. But, then, why do many ordinary people love Bob Ross?
Well, for starters, his presentation — the saturation of his calming voice emitting its positive affirmations accented with the strokes and stabs of brush on canvas — is almost narcotic. I can still recall being in a dorm room during finals week in my junior year of college, and there were six or seven people scrambling around going this way and that. One friend who was watching TV happened upon Bob Ross. Everyone dropped what they were doing — some literally letting book bags slump to the floor — as we were entranced by what was happening on the screen.
Another reason people like Bob Ross is that he takes something seemingly mystifying, and decodes it, making it accessible. Real artists push for expression and deeper meaning, but to those of us who can’t even spell our names in acrylic and would love to paint a “happy little tree” that doesn’t resemble a violently ill cactus, Bob Ross provides something that breaks the language barrier.
That’s why impeachment needs Bob Ross. I know what you’re thinking. “Ben,” you’re saying, “Bob Ross is dead. Has been for nearly 25 years.”
My response is simple, and, you’ll be glad to know, does not involve necromancy. The man was on television for 11 years. We’ve got computers. Make it happen.
Donald Trump himself would tell Jim Jordan to sit down and shut up if he tried to interrupt Bob Ross. Just take the testimony, feed it through the software algorithm, and let Bob Ross go through the case, point by point, noting all the “fluffy attempts at bribery.”
“Oh, friends, the phone call wasn’t perfect. But that’s OK. We don’t have mistakes in our world, just happy little accidents.”
Political artists spin and contort. Really, what they do is more like a magic show on the Las Vegas Strip. You know it’s not real, but you wonder how they do it. Picture, for instance, Devin Nunes on a stage in a tux and top hat with laser lights and a fog machine. “Behold, and marvel as I blindfold myself next to this copy of the U.S. Constitution!”
Let’s do away with all of that. Let Bob sort it out. Decode it. Take it away from those political magicians armed with smoke and mirrors. If the evidence exonerates the president (it won’t, but we’re in highly hypothetical territory here, anyway), cool. If it doesn’t, no one is going to argue with Bob Ross. The president will willingly resign or will be removed by a sobbing Mitch McConnell, who has suddenly realized all he has ever really wanted is to paint a cabin by a lake.
Then, we make the Bob Ross supercomputer president, and put Marianne Williamson in as VP. Crime, violence, strife? All of that will just evaporate. The only discord remaining will be heard in the faint wailing of real artists.