The biggest risk that comes from watching a lot of film and television while the planet’s institutions crumble and a significant number of your fellow countrymen very publicly reveal that inwardly they are ravening wolves is, of course, the fetishization of form. Achievements in technique, craftsmanship, and structure can be appreciated long after plot, theme, and characters become too depressing to think about, because they testify to human intelligence and ingenuity even when humanity is up to nothing good. The problem is that focusing obsessively on technique—in other words, on the qualities so divorced from content and intent that they got Triumph of the Will into the canon—is that the approach can not only prevent a critic from fully engaging with a work of art, but can also isolate them even further from the people around them and the historical moment in which they find themselves. The point I’m trying to make is that this Conan sketch about CBD includes an absolutely extraordinary shot of a rooster dressed up as a little accountant!
The layers of dust on the desk! The vintage telephone and even more vintage adding machine! The tiny green eyeshade! This is a cinematic triumph from everyone behind and in front of the camera at Conan, living, clucking proof of people quietly doing excellent work. And the end of the sketch, in which Conan O’Brien, Andy Richter, and the rooster turn the familiar conventions of late night host/sidekick banter into something exaggerated and grotesque, is a welcome reminder that all of that excellent work—all of those tiny, human attempts to stave off the second law of thermodynamics and produce something with order and meaning and narrative—is just brightly-colored wallpaper over the same old void. It’s enough to make you try CBD!