Monday, March 10, 2014

Seven years ago this week in p3: Remember The Half-Hour News Hour?

Of course you don't. And there's a reason.

That week I was writing the second in a series of pieces about why conservative satire – like that sad and short-lived entry by the Fox News Channel – isn't terribly humorous. Part of it was that they learned the wrong lessons from the success of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report.

But part of it is that American conservatism, as it's constituted these days, simply lacks a crucial ability without which satire becomes, as Saint Molly memorably put it, crude and vulgar.

What's missing is the capacity to retain at least a tiny smidgen of charity; first, that is, to attack the strong, not the weak; and second, to understand that once you're incapable of seeing your opponent – your victim, if you will – as anything but a monster, you still have a wide range of tools with which to go after them, but satire is no longer one of them.

There are people out there on the political scene that I consider monsters. I tend to avoid jokes about them directly, and if I fail to avoid that the result is probably not that funny, anyway.  Conservatives have a tough time seeing anyone who disagrees with them  – or might do so at some point – as anything but a monster. Great for message discipline; death for satire.

And the funny part, so to speak, is that seven years later, conservatives still don't understand, to say nothing of appreciate, Colbert's satire.

Read more of my posts on satire from the link on the p3 List.

No comments: