John Oliver
Screenshot: Last Week Tonight With John Oliver

On Sunday’s Last Week Tonight, after a brief recap of Trump world (tough week for Jared Kushner, “America’s busiest business boy”), John Oliver took on the NRA. Or, more specifically, he and his staff spent a long, long time watching the gun lobbying organization’s “Fox News on a much lower budget,” NRATV. Of course, the gun-loving streaming station started it by coming at Oliver first; the host showed an NRATV promo with a scowling fellow smashing a TV with a sledgehammer—right after it showed a montage of not-so-gun-loving folk, including Oliver on Last Week Tonight. As Oliver admitted sincerely, that’s fair, and the only way for firearm fans to really show who’s boss is for them to “smash their expensive televisions with sledgehammers.” “It’s the only way we’ll learn,” advised Oliver.

As to NRATV’s programming itself, Oliver revealed just what sort of messaging is being done by this channel whose video clips you’ve undoubtedly been sent by uncles you don’t talk to much at Thanksgiving. There’s an Antiques Roadshow-esque appraisal series where all the items are guns, and host Doug Wicklund strokes every vintage firearm while saying things like, “It’s a sensuous gun,” “It gives me shivers,” and the positively rapturous, “Cock… both hammers at the same time.” There’s manly man Dom Raso’s program reenacting his favorite gun-based sequences from action movies. The former Navy SEAL teaches all those kids out there how that bank robbery scene in Heat went wrong and, presumably, how to really carry out a multi-person tactical assault. And there’s the channel’s woman-targeted programming block, where a group of affluent (white) women are shown spray-painting their ordinance a lovely shade of pink, making bullet-spatter art for a pregnant pal, and referring to the recoil of an AR-15 as “a nice little poof of happiness.”

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And then there’s the real meat of the matter, with Oliver showing how the gun company-sponsored programming skews consistently toward the apocalyptically scary. NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch, when not hawking overpriced beet juice between crazy-eyed rants about “the clenched fist of truth” that is a firearm trade organization whipping up xenophobic sentiment, feeds the fears of frightened white folk. Loesch is seen alongside horror-movie-trailer-voiced narrators larding hunting shows with ominous warnings about the “million little dictators… the anti-hunters” who are out to strip God-fearing Americans of their God-granted guns. And don’t get the NRATV narrator started on the scourge of pot, or, as we hear it described in breathless, suspiciously feverish terms, “a prostitute of sorts,” wearing “the veil of seductress.” “She is a harlot,” the unseen, weed-hating narrator intones, “and her name is… Mary Jane.” “I think that guy just slut-shamed marijuana,” said Oliver, noting that, as the pressure mounts for providers like Apple, Amazon, and Roku to boycott NRATV, it’s important to remember just how goddamned silly this low-rent propaganda outlet really is.