Friday, July 18, 2008

Funny Bone Hairline Fracture

It Hurts When I Laugh - Love Spit Love (mp3)
You Don't Need to Laugh (To Be Happy) - Frankie Miller (mp3)
Paid to Smile - The Lemonheads (mp3)

I'm worried about the state of the American Funny Bone. It's not broken, but perhaps it's in need of some more calcium, stat. The American Funny Bone is like some 90-year-old woman's hips, and one good fall down a stair or two could shatter it into a bajillion pieces, leaving the American Sense of Humor stuck in a wheelchair for the short remainder of its miserable life, constantly bumping into the door frames and complaining about the crappy rest home cuisine.

Can someone please explain to me how, at a time when our society is almost as likely to get its news from "The Daily Show" as from some talking head on CNN or FoxNews, America risks losing its robust sense of humor, a sense that has arguably helped us almost survive numerous wars over the centuries, not to mention eight laugh-so-you-don't-cry years of King Dubya?

First, we get these scathing conservative responses to the Pixar movie WALL-E start sprouting up, accusing the movie of pissing on the Amur'kin Way of Life and mocking our culture of laziness and excess. (Disclaimer: I ain't seen the movie yet.)

And then this whole Obama v. New Yorker nonsense comes up, where apparently the racist morons who might not get the humor in the cover will now vote for McCain.

Excuse me, but just how many racist morons -- excuse me, racist morons who think Obama's a Muslim extremist terrorist -- were biting their nails, still unsure which way their vote was going? Hmm... should I vote for the American war hero or the neegra Muslim terr'ist? It's sooooo close! If only a cartoon magazine cover would offer me some guidance... 

I hate to pee in a big bowl of liberal corn flakes, but living in the South, I'm quite certain there's lots of folks who ain't voting for Obama either because they think he's Muslim, or they think he's a terrorist, or they think he's black. And really? When all is said and done? They mostly think he's a Muslim terrorist so they don't have to come out and say it's because he's black. (A black columnist for The Guardian UK makes some nice points.)

Further, how many racist morons even know where one can purchase New Yorker, much less use this cartoon -- it's a *#%&%# CARTOON, people!! -- in their nefarious propoganda. By that logic, if only Kim Jong-Il could plaster a few hundred thousand buildings with his visage, he could convince the American people he was actually a decent fella. Or maybe he would just need to sing "I'm So Ronery."

I have trouble envisioning the Ku Klux Klan using this cover as part of their recruiting materials. ("This one's guaranteed to double our membership!!") I don't see Republicans carrying large protest posters with this on them, like it was an aborted baby fetus, to their national convention.

But the talking heads are certainly right about one thing. This has hurt Obama's campaign. Even though he's personally tried to shake it off and act non-plussed about it, the reactions of everyone around him and media people and bloggers only serve to remind us that, if we vote Barack Obama for President, our sense of humor will take a serious blow.

Saturday Night Live won't even be allowed to spoof him, as every single spoof risks the overly sensitive taint of possible racism.

Back to the WALL-E issue. As numerous observers have rightly observed, observing our society as fat, lazy and wasteful isn't particularly original or groundbreaking. Nor, as they have noted, is it particularly inaccurate. But does that mean it can't be funny? Maybe not HaHa Funny, but maybe HurHuhmm Funny. Or maybe Oof!Ack!Ow! Funny.

Just how desperate are Republicans for some kind of grumpy upper hand that they're looking to a Pixar movie as proof of the vast left-wing conspiracy in Hollywood? Hell, Michael Moore practically looks like the captain, so I'm not sure Pixar could be skewed too far to the left.

More to the point with both of these examples, have we come so close to the fat bastards in WALL-E that we have to have our humor spoon-fed and spelled out for us? Are we so completely numbed and dumbed down that anything requiring more than a half-second of contemplation is tossed aside or feared? Would Jonathan Swift be bogged down as a barista at Starbucks, unable to sell his essays or novels because he can't write a good juicy tell-all memoir that involves Lilliputians?

"It Hurts When I Laugh" is on Trysome Eatone. "You Don't Need To Laugh (To Be Happy) is from Once In A Blue Moon. "Paid to Smile" is from The Lemonheads' Come On Feel... Amazingly, none of these songs are available on either iTunes or's mp3 site. Go figure.


Billy Bob said...

Here's some humor for you: as of last week, John McCain was in the process of learning how to log onto a computer by himself and was getting ready to attempt "a Google."

jennifer said...

I want to rant and rave about this, but don't want to get in the negative frame of mind that it would require. I just know, during every day's news cycle, I'm watching Obama and I'm watching McCain, and I'm just thinking "Jesus. I can't take any more years of someone who makes me uncomfortable when they speak publicly, who makes jokes that fall flat or are just inappropriate, and whose policies, for the most part, I just can't get behind."

And has it only been since 9/11 that so many people try to rabidly defend our way of life? Since I'm a student of history, I know it's not, but it just seems that in the recent past that was the turning point. I have faith in the American people that the pendulum will start swinging back the other way, though, and things will get better. And, as educators and parents, we just have to do our part to make sure kids are getting some heavy doses of humor and critical thinking lessons along the way.

Dan said...

It is because George Carlin died. There is a rip in the humor continuum.