Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Guardianship for the Elderly
June 7, 2018 12:45 AM - Season 5, Episode 13 - Subscribe

This week:
  • The summit with North Korea is called off. North Korea sends Trump a message in an oversized envelope. Trump calls the summit back on. Trump admits he hadn't read the contents of the envelope. Leader of the greatest nation in the world, folks.
  • Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko is declared to be dead on worldwide news, but then discovered to be alive, his faked death an element in a sting to catch a group of Russian assassins.
  • In the UK, the chairman of the British Monarchists Society, one "Thomas J. Mace-Archer-Mills, Esq.," a fixture on TV during the royal wedding, is revealed to actually to have been born and lived to his teens in the US, and even got an unrelated elderly British couple to call themselves his grandparents.
  • And Now: The Very British Put-Downs of Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow.
  • Main story: Legal guardianship, a state under which senior citizens can be put where they have limited rights, and can find it difficult to get out of.
The main story (16 minutes long) is available on YouTube.

North Korea: "Voted 'Top Korea' by We Meant It Geographically Magazine." (The graphic of the magazine also has "LAVA: How Hot Is Too Hot?" and "Studies Show: 98% of Flat Earthers didn't get any attention as a kid.")
Ukraine: "Or, as Vladimir Putin calls it, 'Bonus Russia.'"
On the name "Thomas J. Mace-Archer-Mills, Esq.": The equivalent of a British person pretending to be an American and calling themselves "Jefferson Budweiser McNuggets, Jr."
The Silver Tsunami: "The name Christopher Plummer goes by in his underground cage-fighting ring."

The put-downs of Bercow:
  • "Order! Order! Mr. Doggety-Huges, you're in a very emotional condition!"
  • "Let me just say to the honourable gentlemen that I've known him for a long time. I think when he comes to reflect on his conduct, he'll know he can do better than that."
  • "Those prating away should cease doing so. It's stupid and counter-produtive."
  • "Both sides are still shouting their heads off, it's very down market, it's very low-grade."
  • "You are an exceptionally boisterous fellow, and in the course of your boisterous behavior you appear to be chewing some sort of gum."
  • "You may be a cheeky chappie, but you are also an exceptionally noisy one."
  • "You were much better behaved when you were at Oxford University! What's happened to you man!"
  • "Mr. Pound, calm yourself. You're supposed to be a senior statesman."
  • "Calm yourself man!"
  • "Get a grip on yourself, man."
  • "Calm yourself! Take up yoga!"
  • "I would recommend you take some sort of soothing medicament, or go and lie down for a little while, you'll probably feel better at the end of it."
  • "Let me very gently say to the assiduous but slightly over-enthusiastic government whip, the honorable gentleman and member from Hexham, that his roll is to be seen and not heard."
Faces seen in the episode-closing bit telling older people how to protect themselves from malicious guardians: Cloris Leachman, Fred Willard, William Shatner, Rita Moreno and Lily Tomlin. Neil Degrasse Tyson showed up earlier too, participating in poking a bit of fun at his public image.

Here's this week's source check. BTW, there were a very large number of sources this week, one of the links ("Abuse of Power") may be a different source than the one the show found. Sorry about that, I've been at this for nearly an hour and I'd like to be finished soon....
  • Chicago Tribune, "Science refreshes its view of aging," Joan Cary, February 18, 2014. Link.
  • Maryland Courts, "Introduction to Adult Guardianship," speaker Chief Judge Patrick Woodward, October 23, 2017. Link [YouTube]
  • I couldn't track down the precise clip of ABC13 Action News with the story of Rudy and Remi North experience with their guardian. The interested reader might try looking up the archives of KTNV in Las Vegas.
  • Nevada Public Radio, "Guardianship System in Nevada Under Scrutiny," Fred Wasser, November 14, 2017. Link (Audio playback available on page) "What would you do if a court-appointed guardian swooped into your life and took control of your home and finances without any warning? Not only that, but this guardian limited what your family members knew about it. They even limited contact among family members. It sounds kafka-esque. But in some cases, that was happening in Clark County for years."
  • The New Yorker, "How the Elderly Lose Their Rights," Rachel Aviv, October 9, 2017. Link. (Paywalled, non-subscribers can easily view three articles per month for free.)
  • Documentary Channel, "The Guardians." (A documentary, here is its homepage.)
  • National Council on Disability, "Beyond Guardianship: Toward Alternatives That Promote Greater Self-Determination for People with Disabilities," March 22, 2018. Homepage link. (Full text is available from that page in PDF and DOC formats.)
  • Center for Elders and the Courts, "Guardianship Basics." Link.
  • I could not find a link to the Al Jazeera piece on Guardians.
  • CBS News, "Guardianship Agency Costs Elderly Woman Dearly," Sharyl Attkisson, December 23, 2010. Link.
  • KVVU-TV FOX 5 News, "27 urns filled with human ashes found in Henderson storage unit," Eric Hilt, July 26, 2017. Link.
  • "Subject: RE: Research Inquiry from HBO / guardianship" is likely an email to LWT and not publicly accessible.
  • HoustonPress, "Families Go to Battle in Probate Court, Only to Leave Without Anything," Steve Jansen, July 28, 2015. Link. (Warning: Ad blocker nag screen.)
  • "Abuse of Power: Exploitation of Older Americans by Guardians and Others they Trust," Pamela B. Teaster, Ph.D., April 18, 2018. U.S. Senate link (PDF) It's possible this is not the same source the show used.
  • Center for Guardianship Certification. Homepage link.
posted by JHarris (6 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Guardianship is fucked up. Sure, I heard of cases where family screwed their elders, but the idea that some rando can insert themselves into some old people's finances with the help of a judge without even hearing them is bizarre.

It amuses me to see NDT embracing that he has become some sort of pedantic killjoy.
posted by lmfsilva at 8:45 AM on June 7, 2018 [3 favorites]

There was a FFP about the New Yorker guardianship article back when it came out.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 9:03 AM on June 7, 2018 [3 favorites]

I was really put off by the ending bit and this episode made me fall completely out of love with Oliver’s entire schtick. I don’t think this stuff can be made funny but this method to me is definitely NOT it. The whole thing with the ending video was like, my impression when the FPP came out that NOTHING can protect you from this. Not even pre-existing arrangements. Inserting dumb jokes and random asides to soften something that’s extremely terrible just doesn’t work for me in 2018.
posted by bleep at 9:14 PM on June 8, 2018

Ah bleep, that is the show's whole modus operandi, to help people who ordinarily fall asleep during news shows to stick with it long enough to see how important these issues are. I think they themselves might agree with you to an extent -- after all, their research staff doesn't have the benefit of leavening jokes when they're finding all this stuff out. (And as the sources list I provided should indicate, they do a lot of research.)
posted by JHarris at 2:27 AM on June 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

I understand, I’ve been watching this show since it came out. It used to be effective (otherwise why would I still be watching) and now I don’t think it is.
posted by bleep at 7:37 AM on June 9, 2018

well, usually there's a "write your congressman" or "here's an action to take" or "here's a giant stunt" and maybe they slacked in that arena this time, with the commercial. perhaps you can look into a petition for us to sign?

-Jefferson Budweiser McNuggets, Jr.
posted by eustatic at 5:09 PM on June 12, 2018

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