Comedic Impact Is Peaking

Here’s a reasonably decent National essay about the effect of political comedy on the Washington establishment over the last half-century or so, and more particularly the intersection of comedy, reliable information and rightwing fake news. Nothing startling but a decent summary. The commentator is University of Delaware communications professor Dannagal Young, who performs monthly with a Philadelphia-based improv troupe in addition to her academic tasks.

  • Jeremy Fowler

    Jeff, did you see this piece by Mike Fleming over at Deadline? Looks like Casey’s Oscar is safe after all!

    http://deadline.com/2017/02/manchester-by-the-sea-oscars-casey-affleck-matt-damon-kenneth-lonergan-interview-news-1201910437/

  • The Bandsaw Vigilante

    For those wondering just how excited Republicans are about possible investigations into the Trump-administration dumpster fire, here’s a choice Rand Paul quote:

    https://twitter.com/SopanDeb/status/831639979549933571

    “Yeah, maybe some bad shit went down, but it was Republican shit, ya know? Now, can we please destroy Medicare and give my lobbyists’ friends tax-breaks? That’s why people voted for Trump, right?”

  • otto

    Malcolm Gladwell has some pretty interesting observations about the overblown “impact” of satire.

    http://revisionisthistory.com/episodes/10-the-satire-paradox

    My opinion is that satire, twitter outrage, parody has the OPPOSITE of the intended effect — it mollifies & sedates the people who would otherwise be taking action and getting pissed off.

    • My God that’s some toxic zero sum thinking in that podcast. It’s the Christian fundamentalist mindset transplanted to the elite thinking class. So Tina Fey is brilliant but “her comic genius is actually a problem.” Meanwhile laughing at Laurel and Hardy pushing a piano uphill is “perfectly appropriate” (thanks, mom!) because it’s a lost cause.

      Academics and theologians like to pretend that articulating a thesis in a complete sentence and crafting an anecdote to support it (even if they have to bend or fabricate reality) magically establishes its validity. How many people here really think this statement from one of the podcast’s professional thinkers really applies to well-done satire?

      “you’re spending all of your time thinking about the nature of the comedy, which leaves very little mental resources available to think about whether the comedy has truth.”

      As Chomsky would say, it’s so ridiculous it doesn’t even merit debate. News flash Malcolm, Tina Fey did more to keep Sarah Palin out of the Vice Presidency than you did. And nobody who thought Archie Bunker was supposed to be the hero was taking time out from demonstrations.

      Turn the satire on one of his sacred cows and I bet he’ll change his tune about the nature of its impact pronto.

      http://www.hotflick.net/flicks/1965_Doctor_Zhivago/tn300/fhd965DZV_Tom_Courtenay_011@020514.jpg “I used to admire Tina Fey’s comedy. But I shouldn’t admire it now.”

      • Annjboyd

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      • I’m not sure about Fey/Palin. Plenty of people wouldn’t have voted for her whether Tina Fey existed or not. Palin voters probably dug in their heels even more every time SNL satirized her.

        • If Gladwell can say Fey’s satire “didn’t work,” then anything can be claimed not to work because the logic is divorced from outcomes. Pick your premise, set your sails accordingly.

          The argument that satire is counterproductive because it makes people on the other side hostile is a curious one. So is it defanged unless the audience disagrees? And how would that be unique to satirical expressions? There’s actually something to the problem that recklessly dishonest satire can alienate reasonable agnostics, but that’s of a different sort than the anti-satire arguments on the table:

          – it squanders finite resources for supposedly more productive actions
          – it’s complicated, while “straightforward speech [is] easy to decode” (um…talk about problematic)
          – stupid people might get it wrong (the “think of the children” argument)
          – laughter is inappropriate except about topics that demand no attention
          – practitioners don’t always prioritize dogma and demonstrate 100% moral certainty

          I’m not really buying any of these arguments, and some of them are highly demonstrative of a totalitarian mindset. People with fundamentalist backgrounds may recognize the impulse to stamp out not just disagreement, but even (or especially) anything within the church that doesn’t falls within a very narrow, authoritarian interpretation of praxis.

          It’s interesting that otto throws “twitter outrage” in with satire and parody, not simply for alienating people but for placating the outraged. If that’s true, how much damage are people here doing by venting their political angst on this site?

    • Caroltroth

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  • The Bandsaw Vigilante

    Breaking news from NY Times:

    “Trump Campaign Aides Had Repeated Contact With Russian Intelligence”:

    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/14/us/politics/russia-intelligence-communications-trump.html?smprod=nytcore-iphone&smid=nytcore-iphone-share