The Politics of Jokes
Maybe it's that I was too drunk today (Saturday) after attending the RTCA dinner last night but I started thinking about current jokes in the media. (News people drink a lot. How else can they ever get to loosening their frantic fingers long enough to stop black-berrying, texting, phoning, etc? I have a picture in mind of a newshorse swiftly texting with one hand while stroking his genitals with the other...otherwise he might fall outta touch. Communication is not a variable. Anyway...)
Obama had klutzily delivered one cautious joke after another at the Radio and TV Correspondents Dinner. But, the crowd obliged him with laughs. They were not all honest laughs but I think he was just shooting for kindness from the crowd. Humor is not his forte. Looking suave as he measures his swagger - there he gets an A+ every time.
Everyone remembers that debacle with the Special Olympics. What is the deal with funny? The whole point of funny is that it is a departure from reality. A hyperbole or understatement. Either way, a divergent road we must travel to arrive at funny. So, what is up with the "you went too far" criticism (Governor Palin). I stray when people begin to call jokes "tasteless". What is a tasteful joke? Someone might volunteer: jokes for children. I will take you on that but then they are not funny. And even children know when they are being insulted and condescended to. If you want to make me laugh, I want it to hurt.
Funny got Cartoonist Chip Bok into the Sotomayor cartoon scandal.
Oh, did he say Latina and piñata in the same breath? The fact is that the piñata is a cultural artifact of Mexico. No, not all Hispanics are Mexican. Noted. If we were in the Senate hearing for her appointment and someone started talking to her about her legacy as a Zapatista descendant and how that might influence her opinion on the bench, that would be embarrassing. But a cartoonist putting a known signifier (piñata) in a different context (skip the fiesta, head over to Capitol Hill) to create humor is....well humorous.
Insulted and laughed at are not the same. Maybe Bok and the angry folks at Fox News laughed at Sotomayor's statements regarding her Latina-ness and how it influences her legal judgment but Bok was insulting her...by saying hey if you were like a Mexican piñata, then Mr. Obama putting you forward like this would be like asking the Republican kids to hit you until they got all the candy out. Ha ha.