In the comment section on my post “Can We Please Delay the Story” Flood said “I think the two parties go into a room and flip a coin to see which party has to look like shit this week.”
That got me thinking: I’m severely, SEVERELY unhappy with both parties. I don’t even like reading the news anymore, but I didn’t always have such a distaste for politics. Traditionally I think I’ve felt more aligned with the Republicans, but lately they’ve pushed me away with their insistence religious zealotry, the Iraq debacle and insane spending habits.
But I don’t like the Democrats either. They’re so unorganized they make the Sunnis and Shiites look like bunk buddies at summer camp. And every time you turn around you see some dumbass Democrat railing against the immorality of video games as if that’s the most pressing problem of the day.
When you think about it, politicians have devolved into waking, talking, clichÃ©d stereotypes. Republicans are rich, big-business sympathizers who don’t care about the working class and who use religious rhetoric to get the votes. Democrats are unorganized complainers who simultaneously bitch about anything and everything without ever offering solutions to anything they bitch about.
Who do we blame for this? I place the blame firmly on stand-up comedians.
I can sense you pulling away”¦just wait, I’ll explain.
Comedians exploit and exaggerate stereotypes for comedic purposes, and politicians represent a large subject for them to ridicule through hyperbolic stereotyping. Comedians and satirists have been crafting routines around politicians for ages.
For example, in 1674 John Wilmot, the second Earl of Rochester wrote a poem titled “A Satire on Charles II,” in which he calls the king “the proudest, preemptoriest Prick alive” and describes him as “restless he rolls about from whore to whore / a merry monarch, scandalous and poor.” John ended up having to flee England because in a drunken stupor he accidentally delivered this poem to the king. Oops.
Other than pamphlets and newspapers there were no real venues for that type of thing in 1674, but in 2006? That kinda material will get you a guest host job on Jimmy Kimmel. We constantly see comedians on television delivering their political humor on shows like Late Night and The Tonight Show and on HBO and Comedy Central specials. Those aren’t that bad because you know right away they’re comedians, but some of them are rather sneaky. Am I the only person that remembers that Al Franken was cast member and a writer on SNL? He’s a stand-up comedian and comedy writer folks, and I’m sorry, but guys who spent their youth hanging out in smoky clubs and telling jokes to drunks perhaps aren’t the most reliable sources for information.
And Limbaugh? He started out as a disk jockey for God’s sake. On the comedy heirarchy disk jockeys reside at the low end, right above mime and right below clown. Limbaugh is a political comedian who wasn’t good enough to deal with a live crowd, so he stuck to radio. If you don’t believe me, then google “Limbaugh+Sajak” and read about the catastrophe that ensued when Limbaugh filled in for a sick Pat.
So what happens when viewers start believing those stereotypes about politicians that the comedians have been propagating? They start to identify the satirical stereotypical behavior as the norm, and they vote for people who fit the stereotype, hence George Bush and John Kerry. So the Republicans become more money-hungry, faux-religious, and white, and the Democrats become more wing-nut liberal, whiney, wishy-washy, and abortion-happy.
So keep laughing us into a micro-managed theocracy, and don’t forget to tip your waitress.
Oh, what’s the difference between a politician and a bucket of shit?