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Rebirth of Reason

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Saturday, August 3 - 4:39amSanction this postReply
Okay, so this has been bugging the crap out of me for the past 20 minutes, though this has also bothered me in the past on a few occasions and I've never figured it out.

Now, my list of mainstream Liberals and Conservatives may be a bit skewed but hear me out.

Hears my question: Why are mainstream Liberals more inclined to parody and humor than mainstream Conservatives? Why are the mainstream Conservatives so damn serious?

My list of mainstream Liberals: Colbert, Kimmel, Stewart, Leno, and King.

My list of mainstream Conservatives: Limbaugh, Hannity, Savage, Beck, O'Reilly.

I'm very tempted to think my list is skewed, but these are who I believe to be mainstream Liberals and Conservatives.

Additionally, it seems that most comedians, especially prominent comedians, are of a more Liberal bent.

They are: Carlin, Louis C.K., Lewis Black, Pryor, Hicks, and so on.

Additionally, still, I frequent the local comedy clubs around my neighboring city, Omaha. I have yet to meet one conservative comedian. Do they even exist?

Is this all just coincidence or is there something in the Liberal ideology/mindset that inclines Liberals to humor?

Or is there something more...conspiratorial? I know this is your domain, Ed, but give me a chance will ya'? I can already hear you scoffing at me and you haven't even heard me out. You just won't give a guy a chance...

Anyway, back to the conspiracy. Could it be that these prominent Liberals understand the power of humor and are using it to attract legions of followers?! Unlikely, because I have yet to share the true secret of comedy with humanity, but it is an interesting theory...er conspiracy. But these Liberals still may know of the power of humor.

So, Liberals, what's so god-damn funny!

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Post 1

Saturday, August 3 - 8:07amSanction this postReply
Something I've noticed as well, Kyle...(If you haven't, yet, check out Rand's ART OF FICTION for her discussion on humor, and its good and bad uses...)

Here are some of my speculations...Short answer: the answer is in the labels. The right is traditionally "traditional" and "conservative"; The left is "progressive", and, thus, more prone to "push the envelope/boundaries", break the mold, etc...Conservatives defend and "conserve" their values, the left goes on the attack. And when you consider the nature of humor, which is based on the subversion of expectations, comedy is a better tool to push the envelope and challenge convention than presenting a moral value directly.

The left and the art world have long been tied together, and many art theories believe that all art should be political, and should "shock and awe" the audience (and oppose the "spectacle" that "the man" uses to keep the masses obedient (breads and circuses.) (Ron Merrill, in THE IDEAS OF AYN RAND, btw, talks about "épater le bourgeois", and how Rand made her own use of it, with terms like "the virtue of selfishness.")

My theory borrows from Rand's; that their humor is often malicious and makes a mockery of values. Working with the aforemention art/politics alliance, I do think it stems from a shared outlook. But there is a common theme, throughout books, tv shows, movies, etc., of smuggling in political themes via comedy, and it's hidden by the phrase "oh, it's just a cartoon/tv show/movie", etc...

The one thing I've noticed about certain shows and satires, like SOUTH PARK and FAMILY GUY, is that they start out crude and smart-assed. They attack any complaints about decency and morality with "it's just a show", use the controversy to get attention, and continue to push the envelope until what was once risque seems wholesome. (Remember when THE SIMPSONS were a sign of the Apocalypse? When SOUTH PARK did their mash-up with FAMILY GUY and THE SIMPSONS, Cartman wound up scaring Bart Simpson out of his shorts...). Then, as they gain significant popularity and influence, the creators get a conscience, and get political. I don't know if it's in the vein of getting rich and feeling the need to "give back to the community," or the influence of other Hollywood "elites" pressuring them, in order to join the "Liberal Mainstream Media Hollywood Club" or some other sinister illuminati-like conspiracy, or simply that the creators outgrew the juvenile humor...


SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE has a long history of its writers going political, Al Franken being the most prominent. Many skits skew towards politics, and recently, it seems that every opening skit is set at C-SPAN. Alec Baldwin is a repeat host, and ripped a Sarah Palin lookalike in one skit...until the REAL Palin showed up, causing him to change his tune and ask her out...(go figure...). "Weekend Update" is mostly politics-oriented...

Seth McFarland, of FAMILY GUY, went full-left; using the
"Brian" character as his mouthpiece against the Right.

SOUTH PARK's creators might seem libertarian to some, but they hired Norman Lear to write, and Lear is known for his social commentary on his shows like ALL IN THE FAMILY...probably put them in the category of "left-wing libertarian"...

(While not strictly comedy, several incarnations of DOCTOR WHO have employed writers who smuggled in politics...Because the Doctor often poses as silly or bumbling in order to throw off his enemies, the comedic element served as a ready cover for agenda. The 7th Doctor of the 80's, for example, had writers who admitted this, to use the show to attack the Thatcher administration. And with the reboot, the politics are out in the open, as writer Russell T. Davies and 10th Doctor David Tennant are openly socialist.)

What I have noticed is that the lefty types are more willing to engage in self-parody...Seth McFarland took jabs at "Brian" via the character Quagmire, who is a sexual deviant, but apparently a republican...anyway, one episode had Quagmire hand Brian his ass for being a liberal,self-righteous, hypocritical douchebag, and that was presented without a punchline. And Rush Limbough appeared as himself, and did the same. THE SIMPSONS, meanwhile, had an episode where Homer became "Max Power", and got to hang out with the Hollywood elite, including Ed Begley, Jr...(ok...) Anyway, it turned out that it wasn't all "fun and games," and they had to "give back to the community", and save a tree, or something. They all get into a car, except for Begley, who rides his own invention that "doesn't harm Mother Earth", but instead runs on "his own sense of self-righteousness..." At any rate,it's not surprising, after Rand's analysis of that whole "don't take yourself so seriously" routine...

(Edited by Joe Maurone on 8/03, 10:53am)

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Post 2

Saturday, August 3 - 8:15amSanction this postReply
As for right-wing comedians, I wonder if there's a religious element that held back their development...FAMILY GUY made a joke about Fozzy Bear, from the Muppets, flopping in the Middle East, with an audience of scimitar-wielding Muslims...

Kelsey Grammar comes to mind...his work isn't really political, though, at least not on CHEERS and FRAZIER. (He did do a movie, however, AN AMERICAN CAROL, that had a tough time getting started, as it was a direct attack against the Hollywood liberals and Michael Moore. It also starred Jon Voight, Dennis Hopper, Trace Adkins, Gary Coleman, Jillian Murray and Leslie Nielsen.

Then there's George Carlin, who is not necessarily on the right, but more libertarian-ish...

It could be speculated that the right, by ignoring the field, has simply left the door open for the left to take over the comedic world. (Even if the accountants, and financers behind-the-scenes might have been more conservative...that, I don't know, but it's been joked, elsewhere, in the rock community, that the rebellion, anti-big business, fight-the-man attitude of rock and roll has been co-opted by corporate sponsers, who are happy to "cash in on the student rebellion", so-to-speak; and I've seen Objectivish people say things like "if people are stupid enough to buy something stupid, might as well make a buck off of them", while others aregue that that's short-term thinking that backfires,later, when the culture collapses (Gail Wynand, anyone?) But I wonder if the art of comedy simply is more suited to what the left does. Sure, the conservatives COULD use comedy to skewer the left, but to the extent that their aim is to promote "family values", religious virtue, etc., there's a limit to its use, whereas the left, to the extent that it is less about conserving, and more about challenging, can make greater use of it. And I wonder if there aren't more right-wing comedians because the art of comedy is simply not compatible with a presentation of the values they promote? Rand talked about the danger of satires that are purely satires, that only skewer the bad without presenting the good, except maybe by implication...

It's like Christian rock; trying to use a rebellious sound to promote decency usually just comes off as lame and pathetic...again, look at the subversive nature of comedy, the subversion of expectation...it's all about using the right tool for the job.
(Edited by Joe Maurone on 8/03, 9:01am)

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Post 3

Saturday, August 3 - 8:26amSanction this postReply
One more theory to go with my first post:

As for leftist/crude comedians/writers who outgrow the initial juvenile humor, and discover a "cause", the humor becomes aimed at their enemies on the right. And that makes me think of something Rand said, or Peikoff, in THE OMINOUS PARALLES (and I think the DIM hypothesis may come into play, at some point). Nihilism doesn't go far, in practice, so some values have to be allowed, for survival. And when the decadence goes too far, there will be a backlash, a pendulum swing, as people search for values, an ideal...some will find religion, some will find environmentalism, the occult, mysticism...some kind of "cause" to believe in. (Same in the rock music scene; the band Poison went from singing "Don't need nothin' but a good time" to singing "give me somethin' to believe in..."

So the more decadent comedians and performers burn out, like John Belushi...the survivors, shaken by the loss of friends and colleagues, "get god", so to speak...juvenile shows, like SOUTH PARK and FAMILY GUY, or, drugged-out, counter-culture comedians like the SNL "Not Ready For Prime-Time Players", find some cause and go for it. Whether these new-found ideals are integrated, mis-integrated, or dis-integrated is another story...

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Post 4

Saturday, August 3 - 9:13amSanction this postReply
Oh, and as to speculations about conspiracies: Think about the SNL cast name: "Not Ready for Prime-Time Players." It may not have been THEIR intent, but I do think it's telling...the counter-culture was just that, COUNTER the culture...they didn't have the guns, the influence, the power...so they resorted to other means, more subversive and subterranean...until the underground becomes the mainstream....

(You can see this in other places, too...like the weaker kid who defuses a bully situation with wit or intellect; i.e., an episode of THE BIG BANG THEORY where the nerds use their superior intellect and wit against Penny's overgrown boyfriend at the halloween party, who was literally dressed as a caveman...)

Those in power don't need to use humor as an offensive weapon...(defensive, maybe; using mockery to keep the dissenters silent...)

Arthur C. Clark did a parody of the idea of such a conspiracy, in one of his short stories, "I Remember Babylon." I assume he was mocking the conspiracy, but I wonder if he would say the same, today...

Wiki summary:

The story takes the form of a non-fiction article by Clarke in which he warns the people of the United States of America that the Communists are planning to launch a communications satellite for the purpose of broadcasting an uncensorable mix of pornography and communist propaganda directly to American citizens.

While the eventuality mentioned in the story never materialised, it was one of the earliest popular depictions of the possibilities inherent in satellite TV, a subject also featuring in other Clarke works of both fiction and non-fiction — to which some credit is due for the idea having eventually become a reality.

One of the "pornographic" films in the story is described as depicting the erotic sculptures of the Konark Sun Temple in Odisha (Clarke uses the variant spelling of "Konarak").

Clarke made use of this story to make, in his own name, a remark not vital for the main story line: "I have always had a sneaking sympathy for Benedict Arnold, as must anyone who knows the full facts of the case".

See also: Arthur C. Clarke's "I Remember Babylon": Cold war propaganda mongers get a new medium.

(Edited by Joe Maurone on 8/03, 10:50am)

(Edited by Joe Maurone on 8/03, 10:52am)

Post 5

Saturday, August 3 - 2:34pmSanction this postReply
Thanks for the replies Joe; you've given me a lot to think about and I intend to reply with my thoughts soon.

Post 6

Saturday, August 3 - 3:00pmSanction this postReply
Who is more carefree?

He who is ridden, or he who rides?

In the fable of the Ant and the Grasshopper, the Grasshopper was quite entertained, and enjoyed the good life...by riding the Ant.

If one starts out with basically no undestanding or knowledge of how modernity showed up, it all seems like magic. Barney singing songs about candy canes and gumdrops raining from the sky...all we have to do is run outside with our mouths open wide, and ... gratification.

Certain children never grow up, they never leave that fantasy world. Why oh why can't the world be like they imagine it to be in their barely focused imaginations? Free stuff for everybody without any effort...all it takes is a little 'change' -- a little redistributin' of that which falls from the sky unabetted.

When you come across a grown up adult child who stomps his foot and demands "Why not?", a fair response is, "Because, child, you are a fucking idiot."


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