Guess Who Won the ‘Charles Darwin’ Award from the Tribeca Film Festival?

Daniel Dennett once called evolution the “single best idea anyone has ever had.” It was so revolutionary in what it explained and how simply it could explain it that Charles Darwin’s legacy was cemented the moment his name became synonymous with the idea.

Each year, the Tribeca Film Festival awards people who have similarly pushed the boundaries in their respective fields — what they call “disruptive innovation.” And this year, the Charles Darwin prize went to… Glenn Beck:

Radio and television impresario Glenn Beck has led a fascinating yet controversial career. What is not controversial is the highly disruptive innovation he has launched with The Blaze, a new and all-encompassing media source focusing on the internet and television, that may disrupt the traditional media business model. With majority ownership and accountable to his viewers and himself The Blaze is being closely watched by the media industry for its groundbreaking innovation.

Incidentally, Beck once called Darwin “the father of modern day racism” and said that “Charles Darwin is the father of the Holocaust.”

But I don’t think he’s returning the award anytime soon.

Sarah Jones at PoliticsUSA doesn’t argue on the merits of the awards, but she, like me, is appalled by the connection:

A prize named after Charles Darwin is going to a religiously oriented conspiracy artist, who made a killing selling gold and crazy chalkboard theories on Fox News. Now he’s taken it to the web, quite successfully. Evolution, along with mutation, migration, and genetic drift… It’s natural selection, only in reverse. “Survival of the unfittest,” if you will.

I always hoped Beck would win a Darwin Award. I just wasn’t expecting it would be this one.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • ortcutt

    Who’s next, Alex Jones?

  • Charles Honeycutt

    I always hoped Beck would win a Darwin Award.

    Wishing ignominious death upon people is bad even as a joke.

  • JET

    He definitely pushes the boundaries of sanity. His minions have crossed well over.

  • David Kopp

    It is? Why? I mean, I can understand if you undertake steps to have it happen, but just fantasizing about someone who’s done real, measurable harm to a large number of people getting a karmic comeuppance is bad?

    Or is this one of those “don’t ever think bad thoughts because they might happen” superstition things?

  • Sven2547

    Doesn’t have to be death, just removal from the gene pool.

  • Gus Snarp

    I have no words. OK, yes I do. Maybe the problem is making “disruptive” the only criteria. Darwin wasn’t simply disruptive, he was also constructive. I guess if you create an award to celebrate only the negative aspect of change, then anyone can win, and eventually you’ll end up taking an award named for one of the world’s greatest scientists who created a whole new approach to biology that has led to not only some of the greatest advances in human knowledge for its own sake, but also to major advances in medicine with many more to come, and handing it to an anti-science loon who has done nothing more than figure out a way to get more people to believe lies and conspiracy fantasies and make a greater profit from it. A man responsible for spreading ignorance getting an award for the man who tore back the curtain that had shrouded human understanding of life is just wrong, no matter who you are. If they want an award with such poor criteria, they should name it after someone else.

  • nkrishna

    TheBlaze is innovative in the same way as the bird flu. If the “don’t-verify-anything” model is the new business model all media adopts, it deserves to die.

  • Charles Honeycutt

    “Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?”

    Karma doesn’t exist, thanks.

  • Richard Wade

    Glenn Beck: Pioneering highly profitable stupidity for more than 30 years.

  • Charles Honeycutt

    In practice it’s always about death.

  • Spuddie

    Its not the Darwin Award we wanted him to earn.

  • Spuddie

    Wishing ignominious death upon a person who is a modern day blight on society is perfectly understandable. Unpleasant people evoke unpleasant thoughts.

  • jdm8

    Didn’t Oprah do just this sort of thing? She’s on her second TV network (OK, she sold off her first network some time ago), has a magazine, built some schools and whatever else she’s involved in.

  • baal

    Is that image real? I can’t imagine he posed for it.

  • Chengis Khan

    I am sorry but I agree with Sarah Jones. The only award this dude deserves is the Rush Limbaugh Golden Liars Award and the only prize, Limbaugh deserves is the Glenn Beck-Fox International Radio Crazies.

  • Regina Carol Moore

    I get the feeling most people in this article and responding don’t know what the Darwin Award actually is…

  • Regina Carol Moore

    Or not ever reproducing.

  • more compost

    Why do you get that feeling?

  • abb3w

    Apparently sanity may be a selective disadvantage.

  • ortcutt

    I’m pretty sure that media based around conspiracy theories has been around since Father Coughlin. It’s not exactly a new business model.

  • Ben Roy

    This makes me sad, so so very sad. Almost as sad as when I discovered The Blaze network.

  • Matt Smith

    What is this “real, measurable harm” you speak of?

  • LesterBallard

    Spoiled children are disruptive.

  • liu

    Really? I must be a terrible person then.

  • Kevin_Of_Bangor

    The Blaze provides me with a lot of fun though. Tell a Christian there is no war against them over at The Blaze and it will start an entire shit storm. The story about the gay NBA player coming out is posted there and the comments are filled with a lot of hate and anger.

  • WallofSleep
  • WallofSleep

    It is. From a photo shoot for GQ.

  • WallofSleep

    Profitable for him. I’ll bet everyone who got bit by his gold bug over the last few years ain’t feeling like they profited much right about now. Heh, suckers.

  • Randomfactor

    It’s evolution. Beck has evolved to be a near-perfect parasite feeding on the stupid.

  • Mario Strada

    Very true/. Some parasites are truly abominable but one can still wonder at their cleverness and power of adaptation.
    Beck was too nuts even for Fox news, but he gambled that he had enough of a loyal audience that he could make it online.

    What he should do now is marry Alex Jones and create a truly unbeatable progeny.

  • Mario Strada

    The bad news pile up. On the Blaze there is a Pen Gillette article recommending “The Blaze”. I knew they were buddy buddy and I knew Penn is a libertarian on the fringe, but he is also a skeptic and as one, I don’t understand how he can endorse that pile of shit.

  • Artor

    Did you not hear about the Tides Foundation? They were an obscure organization the Beck picked out as an example of “creeping socialism,” and one of his unhinged viewers tried to shoot the place up, specifically citing Beck as his motivation. And let’s not forget the poor suckers who take Beck’s advice and invest in gold at a substantial markup over the market price. Are you seriously unaware of the damage this horrible shitstain has done?

  • Artor

    Removal from the public consciousness would be sufficient, but I won’t shed any tears over his ignominious demise. It would be schadenfreudealicious! My vote is that he go the same way as David Carradine.

  • Artor

    He puts Vick’s Vapor Rub under his eyes to cue the tears.

  • Michael Harrison

    So, is this the meme theory version of the Darwin Awards? Because Beck’s nuttery has totally resulted in career suicide.

  • macprince

    It seems to me that every celebrity skeptic (whose celebrity stems from something other than them being a skeptic) has at least one very large blind spot. Penn Jillette’s is fringe libertarian politics. Bill Maher’s is pseudoscience/alt-med woo woo stuff. I’m sure there are other examples to be had.

  • DougI

    So if I’m a really popular troll and con man I too can win this Darwin Award. Guess I best start making posts on Youtube.

  • Amenhotepstein

    I’m happy because from now on I will always refer to him as “Charles Darwin Award Winner Glenn Beck”. That’ll really grind the wingnuts’ gears. Any photos of him accepting the award?

  • Tobias2772

    Great photo. I just saved it in my humanist photo file as Beck-shit crazy!

  • SeekerLancer

    Glenn Beck is just like any random conspiracy nut on the Internet. The only difference is they put a TV camera in front of him and gave him an audience.

  • Daryl L. Hunter

    I am delighted there is another news source now not infected with the gangrene of liberalism.

  • Daryl L. Hunter

    Yep Glenn espouses fiscal responsibility – OH NO!! Stop it Glenn, I have children to extort!

  • Daryl L. Hunter

    Creeping socialism is an understatement, this country is full speed ahead towards socialism and I am thankful Beck is ringing the bell.

  • Daryl L. Hunter

    Dont hole your breath, he owes no money to anyone, his media empire has no debt, and he doesn’t have to answer to any stockholders although I wish he would sell me some.

  • Daryl L. Hunter

    Because Pen Gillette has actually listened to Beck unlike everyone on this forum who are forming their opinion from biased hearsay.

  • Artor

    You have no clue what socialism even means, do you? Beck is ringing your bell, that’s for sure, but not in the way you think. More like Pavlov’s bell.

  • Artor

    No, I won’t “hole” my breath. Why don’t you invest in some of the gold he’s pushing? It’s only 30% more than the market price.

  • Matt Smith

    Beck is no more responsible for that than the Southern Poverty Law Center is responsible for the guy who shoot up the Family Research Council’s lobby. Idiots are always looking for an excuse to act upon their idiocy.

  • vermillian

    Nothing more tasteful than wishing for someone’s death. Good job blogger. Your crap work is what makes the blaze successful.

  • surfjac

    I used to have respect for the tribeca film festival. Why would I now?

  • surfjac

    Can you quote where the author wishes for beck’s “death”?
    Did you get that from another article? Did you pull it from some orifice on your person?

  • surfjac

    Didn’t you buy a lot of the gold he was hawking?
    When you listen to someone like beck speak, you have to wonder where he gets the crap that comes out of his mouth. He NEVER has any proof that is in the least verifiable. He’s a snake oil salesman, he’s a modern day joseph smith type of con man. he’s in it for the money and could care less if you support him just as long as he can get paid for telling you what to think and believe. If you buy it, well:
    caveat emptor.

  • surfjac

    Please explain “gangrene of liberalism” in the media.
    Is it the reason so many conservatives and right wing pundits are on the talk shows every sunday? Is itthe reason why there’s never any push-back when someone on the right wing lies on anyone of the shows or is never asked to fully explain his statements? Is it the reason that people like beck never can stand up to any scrutiny in intelligent society? Please explain…I’d prefer you use words rather than animal noises.

  • surfjac

    Where’s the death threat?
    I see where it says, “beck MADE a killing” not that he should be “killled”.

  • surfjac

    His media empire has no viewers either

  • Freemage

    Eh… I enjoyed this piece right to that last line. Seriously, Hemant, even as a joke these days, wishing death on someone (you ARE aware of what the ‘other’ Darwin Award is for, right?) is out of bounds.

  • Freemage

    The reference to the other Darwin Award, surfjac, which is for people who ‘remove themselves from the gene pool’ in particularly ignominious ways–usually fatal, though getting maimed in such a way as to render reproduction a non-issue is good enough to qualify. So wishing someone would qualify for it is wishing that they would die or be maimed, and it’s not up to Hemant’s usual standard as the ‘friendly atheist’.

    Yes, Beck’s an execrable shitstain and horrible, horrible human being and charlatan, but death-wishes? Those are what we’ve come to expect from the other guys.

  • Freemage Seriously, Hemant’s better than this.

  • Daryl L. Hunter

    “gangrene of liberalism” is very descriptive of liberalism, it is rotting our country and killing it!

  • Daryl L. Hunter

    I trust nothing but my depreciating cash.

  • Daryl L. Hunter

    I subscribed to his web tv although it didn’t stream well on my rural DSL but even though I rarely watched on line I kept my subscription hoping for the day he would make it to Cable. Now I watch on Dish Network and he is getting onto more cable providers all the time. Although I get him on Dish I still keep up my subscription to his web TV. His online television channel, had more than 300,000 subscribers at the end of 2012. 300,000 X $10.00 per month = 3 million dollars per month + advertising $$$. This is only for Blaze TV. Parade Magazine reported that Glenn Beck made twenty-five million in 2009. This may only be the amount earned as a radio talk show host. Speaking engagements, public appearances and royalties may not be included in it.

    As much as liberals would like, Glenn isn’t disappearing anytime soon :D

  • Daryl L. Hunter

    MSNBC has instructed you well :D

  • surfjac

    Don’t watch msnbc much at all.

  • David Kopp

    Well, no. But fantasizing that it does is still satisfying sometimes ;)