Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Off-Limits Humor

Steve Sailer's most recent: Why Trump Won: Obama Shared White House With His Mother-in-Law For Eight Years And No One Dared Joke About It.

First comment
Jokes are funny when they punch “up,” like when you mercilessly mock a white Heartland Dad who makes $40K/yr. They’re not funny when you punch “down,” like when you mock an Affirmative Action hoaxing Harvard Law Professor cum United States Senator.
Think about it for a moment. I had completely forgotten the mother-in-law thing.  Nothing wrong with the arrangement.  But of course it is ripe for humor, as are the president's odd relatives, his basketball court, and a dozen other easy targets. Easy targets. There was some popular humor about Michelle's decision to try and control influence what children ate at school, but nothing from the pros.  And that was about it.

Sailer puts this in the context of a "New Yorker" article complaining about the more evil, coarse humor of Trump, in contrast to the woman's 70's childhood when humor was good.


Retriever said...

Emily Nussbaum was brilliant! I agree with most of her article. Nevertheless, I DO think that it would have been funny to have had some jokes about Obama and his mother in law. Have always found American comedy muzzled by comparison with the Brit comedy of my youth, that savaged everybody, no matter who they were, and especially those idolized by many...I'm a Monty Python fan girl myself...tho Saturday Night Live was at one point rather funny...I loved Point/counterpoint about the news "Jane, you ignorant slut..." And Woody Hall at his self-deprecating "Annie Hall" best was great. But I can't remember howling with laughter at much of anything that styles itself American comedy recently...

I also agree w an early point of Nussbaum's that humor is one of our best weapons against tyrants...When I lived under fascist (in one case, Nazi-advised) governments in South America as an expat brat, I so admired the people who mocked the military dictators ruling the countries, for their pompous behavior or (in one case) a walrus mustache. THey risked imprisonment or torture but even as a kid I knew how brave they were not to be cowed into silence.

Now back to watching (again) "the Heavy Water War" on Netflix with awesome Norwegian resistance fighter in ski chase scene away from evil Nazis. Am really not that interested in comedy. Good versus evil, in real life or re-creation, interests me more...

Christopher B said...

Somewhat OT, Retriever's comment reminded me of a thought I had a few months back .. wondering to what degree the GOP resurgence since 2008 is a generational phenomenon, as the people whose parents and grandparents voted for FDR and JFK are replaced by those whose parents and grandparents voted for Reagan and the Bushes 41 and 43. Childhood influences on adult attitudes could be stronger than we realize.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

@ Christopher B - interesting point. When we trace back political progressions we tend to immediately think of our personal narrative and development - whether we finally got sick of one party or the other, or whether some major event changed our mind or the minds of those around us. But the biggest, hardest to measure change that happens to the electorate is that four years' worth of folks die off and four years' worth come on board. The latter also have some unpredictable turnout issues. That's a 5% swap-out every four years. Between 2008 and now - about 10% different electorate. That's a big number.

dmoelling said...

Comedy may be tough with Donald. He doesn't like being the butt of jokes even relatively mild ones like having tiny hands.

Note that in both Russia and Turkey today there are laws about criticizing the President/Premier excessively. Both Reagan and the Bushes handled critics well and gracefully.

I once was driving and heard an African graduate student speaking on a local college station. He said those in the West should stop treating Africans as children but as adults who could be called out when they do stupid or criminal things. Many felt they couldn't criticize Obama much as the first "black" president. This was self censorship to an extreme. The really funny black comedians like Richard Pryor could not work today.