Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Will humor become a form of Heroism?

From the New Yorker:
Humor helps. It helps me to see issues in a new way. It helps me to cope. I think it helps a lot of people. Andy Borowitz is a satirist whose tweets, Facebook posts, and New Yorker pieces have been on the frontlines of political commentary. Here's a quote from Borowitz's article titled "Putin Agrees to Receive Intelligence Briefings in Trump's Place" --
"Trump said that, while he was 'totally uninterested' in receiving the briefings, Putin appeared to be 'extremely interested.' ... Trump also touted his deal-making prowess in securing the Russian President’s services. 'The American people are getting an amazing deal here,” he said. “Putin is doing this totally for free.'"
As with most cases, Borowitz's humor can evaporate if you over-analyse it. His method is to use just enough exaggeration. Occasionally he cuts it so close that his "news" gets linked as real news or is reprinted as if factual in humorless foreign newspapers. I guess his audience is pretty limited to the kind of people the incoming administration was elected to get even with -- elites, educated people, those who have accomplished something. The ones "they" hate.

Or as Borowitz wrote on Facebook yesterday:
"For years a big part of the American Dream was to become better educated, better informed, and, yes, smarter. If that's elitism then I'm doubling down on it." 
True but funny. Funny but, sadly, too true. Will Borowitz be a hero of the coming disaster? I'm grasping at straws, I guess.

Then there's Garrison Keillor. It's been many years since I was a fan of his radio shows or since I read any of his books, but I appreciated his little piece in the Washington Post yesterday: "What will be Trump’s legacy? Who cares." Here is an extract:
"Presidents are royalty and we measure our lives by their reigns, but their effect on the country in general is greatly exaggerated. Take me, for example. Mr. Lyndon Johnson’s Selective Service System more or less governed my 20s, and now that I’m old and shaky, his Medicare is very helpful, but for most of us, presidents are part of the scenery, like the great stone heads on Easter Island. Millions of words have been written about Richard Nixon but his effect on my life was minuscule compared to that of my third-grade teacher Fern Moehlenbrock. Her kindness and cheerfulness grow larger and larger in memory, and Mr. Nixon recedes to the size of a dried pea. ...
"And now, after eight years of the most graceful and articulate chief since FDR, we get this crude showman with the marble walls and gold faucets. Most of the country dreads him as he slouches toward Washington to be inaugurated. I worry what effect he’ll have on children. Everything Mrs. Moehlenbrock told us — no pushing, no insulting, no lying, no crude talk — Mr. Trump does on a daily basis. But how will he actually affect my life? Not much. ...
"...It’s going to be a long four years, people. Get back in touch with old friends. Take up hiking. Read history. But not books about Germany in the 1930s — it’ll only make you uneasy."
Will this help us stand up to tyranny? Well, maybe. That last sentence makes me feel worse, not better.

Another hope -- that Al Franken will figure it out and lead us somewhere else. Unfortunately, in a long article about him this week, the New York Times Magazine writer only pointed out how he's tried to be much more serious as a senator. The article: "Al Franken Faces Donald Trump and the Next Four Years," subtitled "The second-term Democratic senator, who once made a living satirizing politicians, envisions an unfunny future."

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