Bully Laughs

Sometimes, I feel guilty over laughing at comedy. A lot of it is mean.

The mean stuff often makes me laugh, despite the understanding that a real person is the butt of the joke. Comedy often attacks real people. I believe there is a law that lets them rip apart politicians with comedy, and celebrities have always been fair game it seems. Late night talk shows just crack jokes freely at other people’s expense.

I was watching an episode of Chelsea Lately just now, and the panel was all ripping Whitney Houston’s daughter apart, comparing her to a back woods Southern hillbilly, and then made 3 mean jokes about the gap in her teeth.

Now all I know about Whitney Houston’s daughter now, is that she has a gap in her teeth.

It seems much of the comedy on late night television is all about attacking somebody. In order to stay topical and appeal to a mass audience, they pick on people we all know. Sometimes it’s somebody famous like a politician, but thanks to the Internet and YouTube, often it’s a regular person who appears in a photo or video clip that has gone viral. Regular people are becoming the nightly punch line for millions of strangers to laugh at.

TV often gets its biggest laughs by putting somebody else down. By being a bully. A mean bully.

If we saw this sort of thing in a schoolyard, we’d protest. You’re not supposed to make fun of the weird kid, or the accidental banana peel slip, but on stage it seems fine. In front of friends it’s bad to point and laugh – but in front of strangers, we’re allowed to applaud at you falling into a fountain, or down a hole while checking your phone.

All the late night shows do it. They pick clips from the media of the day and present them with a punch line. Some innocent people have become famous overnight while we all giggle at them. We don’t think about how it may have changed their life. Imagine going to work the next day and Jimmy Kimmel has just made you a laughing stalk. Suddenly everyone knows you’re an idiot.

I confess I often laugh. I like to laugh and somebody slipping off stage or running into a tree can be funny. America’s Funniest Videos has been on the TV for years letting us laugh at mistakes. I’m talking more about the mean jokes that punctuate these videos. Personal comments and jokes that cut deeper needlessly. These days I often divert my thoughts to the victim. A visual image if how they might feel hearing this and possibly experience related behaviour change from everyone.

One joke can literally be life changing.

Bullying is bullying.

The Medium used to be the Message

The World Evolves.

The medium used to be the message, but today the audience is the author.
The world is the medium and the message.

Media is finally created by, and received by both parties. The watcher is the content producer.

Reality TV now exists in multiple forms. On networks, it’s still created by producers and isn’t really reality TV, but we also have the Internet, and online – REAL reality exists. Video created by the people for the people… or for nobody.

Everyone has a truth
One man can be a church
A lie travels fast

Regular people can build an audience, and maybe even a fanbase. They often become addicted, just like reality TV stars have been known to become.

When we get an audience, we crave a bigger audience. Laughter, or worship is addictive.

Sadly, some also get famous unwillingly in this new world where it’s OK to laugh and share literally anything funny.

Slipping on a banana was always funny, to everyone but the fallen – but today the moment isn’t lost in the moment. Today we can click a button and re-live the humiliation over and over and over and even make somebody totally unrelated to the act, except they were the ones that uploaded the clip, filthy rich with 6,000,00 views, and an upbeat tune to make the fall even funnier.

A new phobia emerges!

A new fear of being caught on camera and becoming an Internet sensation overnight. The terror of being viewed and mocked by Howard Stern in the morning, or Jimmy Kimmel Live late that very night or other countless comedic monologues.

Without your permission or awareness, the world is laughing at you, as you fall into a hole in a kitchen, or walk into a water fountain while texting… or slip on a banana peel. If you’re very unlucky, they turn you into an extra funny meme and your 15 minutes lasts for weeks — ever.

A clown.

I will remember the Double Rainbow guy forever and not remember who won the last season of Survivor, Idol, AGT or next top model. I watch those shows, but I forget the winners almost instantly. I remember the STAR WARS KID and the guy that sings CHOCOLATE RAIN.

I remember the “RIDAY FRIDAY” singer much more than I remember whoever was the musical guest on SNL this past week.

World media has become as famous, or more famous than the big TV Networks, but TV is learning. They’re trying to merge the two. They bring YouTube onto the TV, and discuss the top stories, and make an extra punch line or two out of the already funny… again.

Each night we have shows that try to recap the days Internet memes and sensations, but I’m always pleased when I’ve already seen the YouTube videos or VINES or other clips that Chris Hardwick plays @Midnight or TOSH.O makes fun of this week. It means I’m current, and for some reason, at age 50, that makes me happy. I know who Miley Cyrus is, and was – but I also know Grumpy Cat and Keyboard Cat.

I don’t want to be famous.
I just want a few fans.

American Politics

Frequently when I think of politics, I think there are many smart people out there that do things politically, more like a performance than real politics.  Elections are shows for the masses.  The campaign trail is performance art.  With 24 hour news channels and blogs out the wazoo, people need to have something to talk about. To feel they’re a part of the process, even if they’re not, really.

While I watched the American 2012 Republican debates, starting with a big crowd of over 10 contenders, it occurs to me that this is a process. They’re starting early and getting more TV coverage before the election than they ever will after it. I’m sure it happens every four years, but we’re all four years older each time too, and our values and memories and opinions change. I pay way more attention to politics now, than I did four or 8 or 12 years ago.

Although, to be fair, I still get my news from the comedy side of politics, not the actual news stations.  I learn what I need to from Howard SternJon Stewart and Jimmy Kimmels – although with Saturday Night Live. Since I am Liberal, and of the belief that most of the people I respect in life are too, this is actually adequate for me to feel somewhat educated.

When I see the row of clowns in the debates, and both sides are making fun of some of them, I realize exactly why we have idiots running for President. Why it is important to rule out the fools, in order to make us all believe we are choosing the right man (or woman, if that ever happens).

We need fools to make fun of, because it is vital, in the 20+ months of time we have to fill before the actual election, that we not make fun of the one we’re going to choose – at least too much.  We need the late night talk shows to have fodder, and be able to mock and attack and joke about the losers.  If we had 10 actual good contenders up in the row in front of a crowd, we’d not only be confused, but we’d have to find out the dirt and bad things about the good guys too.  We’d be talking for 28 months about Mit Romney, and that can’t be good.

Without the idiot contestants,  we might have to laugh at the real contestants.  Just like other realty TV shows like Survivor,  the winners have to think about who they want to take to the end. Who can they beat in the final tribal council.  We need losers we know can’t win to the end beside us.

Herman Caine was just a rodeo clown that lets the cowboy get away unnoticed by the media bull.

His job was to show America that a black man, or a small business man, or a crazy person  – depending on which demographic you most identify with, CAN make it to the Presidential race.  His close positioning served multiple purposes to give hope to everyone that in the USA, anyone can make it to the President campaign trail, even if only  rich Harvard educated men actually win.  He was close.