Monday, November 08, 2010

But that joke isn't funny anymore...

Possibly the strangest consequence of a twenty-four-hour infotainment cycle is that it's mobilized the infinite monkey theorem: all that round-the-clock, Quixotic, chaotic, vanity-pressed, niche-filling flotsam multiplied by the power of the internet means that sometimes, what was once an absurdist brain-fart will be made a reality. Our Everest-sized trashmound of pop-cultural ephemera is performing a cold reading on the future and it's bound to score the occasional hit.

For example, it's often claimed that Mark E. Smith is psychic, having predicted (among other things) the 1982 Guatemalan coup and the IRA bombing of Manchester City Centre in 1996. But after thirtysome years of packing thousand-word screeds into three-minute post-punk morsels, it'd be utterly baffling if none of Smith's words proved prescient. A kind of counter-clairvoyance, that would be.

So it's less appropriate to say Monty Python predicted the Tea Party than to say Cleese's anti-Communist freakout simply crystallizes the American conservative's most consistent style of paranoia of the past (yikes) sixty years. Granted, the resemblance between Glenn Beck and Dave Foley's "right-wing paranoid reactionary" is eerie, since it extends beyond content into cadence & rhetorical style. But surely between the combined archives of Kids In the Hall, SNL, SCTV, Fridays, and This Hour Has 22 Minutes there would be at least a single sketch starring a jeremiad-spouting jingoist?

But the MADtv sketch below is graying my hair - not the least because it's MADtv yet is actually damned funny. This is a particularly chilling example of something that was once patently screwball mutating into de facto plain-statement: 2000's most repellent, line-stepping satire (listen to those "boos!") is 2010's Republican populism. Again, I'm not saying Nicole Sullivan & her co-writers are psychic. It's just impressive when people continue to surprise you, albeit in the worst way possible.

(Hat-tip to FARK. There, Drew, are ya happy?)


Jeffrey said...

The thing I find so remarkable about about Beck's success is his transparency. He admits it's all entertainment and you can find him on YouTube "prepping" for tears with Vicks. Yet, the great unwashed (and, apparently, uneducated) think he's sincere, rather than being Murdoch's star clown in his circus known as Fox News.

Seb said...

Who knows, maybe we'll find out one day that the whole Tea Party movement is in fact a crowdsourced Andy Kaufman-esque performance art piece/prank of the highest magnitude.

Of course, given that most right-wingers seem to confuse derision & spite for humour, I wouldn't bet on it.