Mo Rocca (the new Andy Rooney)

Mo Rocca on Jon Stewart One of the ways to track the changes in contemporary culture is to establish "before" and "after" equivalencies. 

One equivalency:  

Mo Rocca and Andy Rooney

I don't have time to break out the similarities and differences in a systematic way.  But it feels like what Fred Eggan, American anthropologist, used to call a "controlled comparison," with enough similiarity to permit comparison and enough difference to make a contrast between the men a contrast of the cultures from which they come. I leave the task to my distinguished readers, who will do a much better idea that I could ever hope to.

I will say this.  Rooney is the end of that home spun, Wilfred Brimley-type, wisdom.  And thank goodness. Rooney's parting comments at the end of every 60 minutes often seem to refuse some aspect of contemporary culture more than they illuminate it.  Rocca on some occasions actually seems to light things up.  


Mo Rocca on the indefinite Clinton Bush Presidency here.

9 thoughts on “Mo Rocca (the new Andy Rooney)

  1. Steve Portigal

    Funny to see Mo get mentioned at all. He went from the powerful launching spot at the Daily Show to becoming one of those VH1 talking heads in their “remember the past?” montages where he can sing the Slinky theme song and imitate Marcia Brody superimposed on top of grainy “classic” footage. He went from promise to has-been to please-go-away very quickly. And that was 3 years ago. I think Rooney at his lowest relevance had more meaning, impact.

    It’s not that I’m not a fan, I’m a betrayed former fan! Rocca didn’t live up to his brand promise and for that he must be sanctioned.

  2. LK

    what…no one remembers “america’s ugliest bathrooms?”

    it’s a really good thing i no longer have cable (but boy do i miss it)

    the bigger question begged is where did mo go? could there be a shortage of work for smart funny critics of contemporary life, particularly ones with (as mentioned above) the best launching pad known right now? one wonders…

  3. Adrian

    Mo is fearless, and the best comedy comes from fearlessness. Whereas Rooney may believe he’s fearless, he’s playing to an established audience that knows exactly what he’s going to do. And having your expectations validated is the opposite of brave and the opposite of funny.

    With Mo, you don’t know what he’s going to do, and that’s why you watch. (See the videoclip of him dancing with Damian Woetzel.) There are no surprises left for Andy Rooney; Mo contains multitudes.

  4. Tom Guarriello

    Well, he may have enough work, as cited, but he does seem to have come up short, as Steve points out. He’s not mentioned in the same league as influential contemporaries like Carell or Colbert. Maybe he’s in some kind of dreaded middle zone of hipsterdom. This is not what he had in mind, I’ll wager.

    Rooney, on the other hand, is iconic and, as we all seem to agree, blessedly just about finished.

  5. Ryan Holiday

    To defend hipsters from this undeserved burden, I would have to say that Mo Rocca isn’t relevant to anyone – nor does he likely have any fans (maybe he and Hal Sparks share a few).

    When has Mo Rocca ever been fearless? I assume Adrian was referring to this daring and provocative series of web ads he did for Bank of America

    I would go as far as to say that he is one of the last examples of those “oh I’ve heard of him celebrities” that cumulative advantage unintentionally creates after someone manages to fall into a few television appearances and seems to be appealing to clueless advertising and cable execs.

  6. barbara

    And let us not forget his stunning turn as a guest Judge on Iron Chef America on the Food Network.

  7. Rick Liebling

    Andy Rooney, iconic? Yes, if you are 55+. No if you are <35. I'm certainly not rooting for the man's demise, but upon his retirement he will cease to exist in any popular culture context.

    Mo Rocca's career, I'd wager, still has some twists and turns left in it. My hunch is that he's still got some relevance left. Will he ever be as big as Andy Rooney was? No, but it's a completely different era. Rooney had a choice spot on arguably the most watched show of the last 25 years.

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