Post 9/11 Humor

Knock Knock!

Who’s there?


9/11 who?


Remember after 9/11 the big deal when political comedy shows like the Daily Show came back?

“Is it safe to joke again?” people asked. Jon Stewart spent the first show back justifying being entertaining.

Of course the “very serious people” (™ Atrios) in the news said, “We are going to stop goofing around with silly stuff and get serious about foreign news!” How’s that working out today? Are any of the TV networks or newspapers funding more full-time foreign bureaus? Or is the money being spent on shows recycling the same “experts” as before?

Speaking of experts, TV show producers who got duped by former Pentagon people working for military contractors didn’t learn their lesson. Syrian analyst, Elizabeth O’Bagy, got fired from the Institute for the Study of War. Not because of conflict of interest, but for faked credentials. Keep this firing reason in mind people, there will be a suggested use for it below!

I didn’t get serious about “politics” right after 9/11, but I did during the run up to the Iraq War. Because I work in PR and marketing, I understood the concept quoted by Bush White House chief of staff Andrew H. Card Jr: ”From a marketing point of view, you don’t introduce new products in August.”

I saw how serious disagreement with a war position was treated on TV and in the news. Our comedians were/are one of the few groups who challenged the “very serious people” who wanted a war. They were attacked and dismissed as “just comedians.” They were people who had “no credentials.” We were/are the dirty hippies who were/are not to be taken seriously. Who gets taken seriously? The people who make money on war. What of the people who make money on peace? Where are they in this discussion?

The reason Janeane Garofalo could be one of the voices against the War in Iraq was because the producers felt they could marginalize her as, “comedian/actress” yet she was a still celebrity which is great for TV. I pulled this clip of her talking about the run up to the war in Iraq.

Look at how knowledgeable she is and how disgusting they are in trying to position her. “Saddam must love you.”

I don’t watch the TV shows now, but for those who do, were there “very serious people” on TV this time pushing against bombing Syria? Were CEOs from the multibillion dollar Institute for the Study of Peace and the Gandhi Institute on? Were there three people to one against bombing people? Did the non-bombers get the same treatment as Garofalo? Were they “crazy”, “pink” or “weak” people selected by the producers so they could get dismissed?

I’m watching the fantasy show The Newsroom right now. Dan Rather says that it’s pretty accurate about what goes on in real TV newsrooms, with the exception of the whole “standing by your reporters” part. I notice who they call to get as “experts” and why they call them. They have a bias. Not necessarily a liberal or conservative bias, but a bias for TV friendly or Expert or an Authority on The Subject. They are in the, “We have their phone number” database. They are on the “can be camera ready in 2 hours” list.

Did the producers ask themselves, “Did these people get the last war wrong?” No. It’s a benefit because now they can compare and contrast! They ask, “Are they in prison?” No? Great, then they can be on camera. They check, “Were they busted for plagiarism?” Yes? Oops, hold off on them for a while.

When Doug Feith got a Georgetown University teaching position people squawked. Some did the grudging, “academic freedom” bit. I pointed out to people that there are multiple ways to get someone like Feith out of his Georgetown University position. I suggested people look at his expense accounts, see if he has plagiarized, find out if he has side deals that, though allowable, he didn’t get permission for from the dean. That is how you bust “experts” in our media world. Rumsfeld isn’t going to be brought up on war crimes, but we can bust him for something else. Use your imagination people! Give the producers a reason NOT to call him. The producers hated not having Doris Kerns Goodwin on, but in their world the taint of plagiarism is stronger than war crimes.

The other way to bust these people is with humor. Did Tina Fay and the writers of SNL help defeat Sarah Palin? I think so, but what do I know? It’s not like I have a Ph.D in political humor, I just see what works.

There is nothing funny about buildings blowing up and people dying. It’s news. Bombs dropping is news. Finding a diplomatic solution? That’s news too, but not the kind of news the very serious people can get interesting footage out of. It’s boring! But it is also less deadly. (Here’s a great video clip of a President that couldn’t wait for a diplomatic solution.)

I started watching M.A.S.H for the jokes, but I absorbed more about the tragedy of war from that show than from all the documentaries or newscasts that I ever watched. Especially the ones I never watched.

Want to stop bombing? Let’s look at how to make money in the non-bombs industry. Let’s look at making more comedy and entertainment, after all, it’s still one of our biggest exports. How many funny movies could you make for the price of a bunch of Tomahawk missiles? I’m not about making fun of death, but I am for looking for alternatives to death as a first response to death.

Poking fun of the absurdity of war is important because The Powers That Be on TV and DC certainly aren’t listening to serious people. That’s the funny thing I learned, post 9/11.

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