When kings ruled the lands they enjoyed their time wining, dining and having others entertained them. During brief intermissions they actually dictated laws, conducted wars, and kept a class based system comprised of the poor and the rich. From time to time they enjoyed the comedy of court jesters. These fools could provide the court a round of jokes or even satire towards the royalty. Some of this is romanticized today in movies but remains true to an extent. Hell, it is not that fair away from our current ways.
Today, multiple outlets provide us with satire and often rebuke the political elite. Think Stephen Colbert. For decades now, The Onion blasts pop culture, the mainstream media, sports, and politics. One of their pieces from a couple weeks ago hits more than just the nail on the head. It tells the damning truth of workers in today’s environment.
Following seven straight years of long hours at the office and sacrificed weekends and holidays, all of account manager Sam Hemstead’s hard work and single-minded devotion to Pinnacle Automotive Insurance has finally paid off for CEO Charles Pardahee, Pardahee said Friday.
“There were definitely some nights I’d lie awake in bed and wonder, ‘Is Sam absolutely killing himself day in and day out for nothing?’” Pardahee told reporters while driving to his weekend home in a recently purchased 2012 BMW luxury sedan. “But Sam just put his head down and never looked back, and this year his blood, sweat, and tears have proven profitable to the tune of a 15 percent larger bonus for myself.”
The common worker endures longer hours, more responsibility, worsening work conditions, and less pay. Meanwhile, real CEO’s, unlike the fictional one mentioned above, receive multi-million dollar bonuses, stock options, and more regardless of their performance.
I’ve already highlighted the one’s that walked away with more than $100 million. But the mere statement of it all doesn’t go far enough. Somehow throughout all of this the modern day jester shines a brighter light on the inequalities of the world than the evening news.
Take for instance Colbert’s Super PAC. It has completely undermined democracy… if you listen to people like Joe Scarborough in the mainstream media. In reality it showed the absurdity of the way political campaigns are funded. Sadly, it did not magically put a stop to them. Now we can get ready for Super Super PACs.
Here’s how it works: under new federal rules, a traditional PAC and super PAC may operate under one roof. These hybrid operations can raise and spend unlimited amounts of cash to promote or oppose candidates, as any super PAC can, while simultaneously giving limited amounts of money directly to campaigns and committees, like a traditional political action committee.
Yikes! Colbert will undoubtedly continue to mock the current system. But why does satire work as a weapon?
“It works well for two reasons,” says Lee Camp, a favorite comedian of mine. “One is that it gets people to listen who either disagree or don’t care about the point you’re making. At least they feel that way before they listen. They’re willing to continue listening because it’s funny, and they’re enjoying themselves. Most other mediums aren’t able to achieve that. I imagine millions of right-wingers watch the Daily Show even though they disagree with a lot of it.
Secondly, comedy cuts through the bullshit. We’re in the information age when people are completely overwhelmed by the open fire hose of information that is sprayed into their faces on a daily basis. However, comedy can stick with someone. When done well, it can stand out and be passed around like an STD. So the short answer is… comedy and satire are herpes.”
As Camp mentions, the Onion writers finish it off with a machete to the bullshit. This paragraph lays it all out.
According to the CEO, Hemstead’s contributions to Pinnacle Insurance will pay even greater dividends when he is let go and replaced with a college graduate willing to work for half the salary, allowing Pardahee to give himself a substantial raise.
There is no spin from one side or the other. It is just straight truth, no matter how painful it must feel for millions of Americans.
“I’m not a comedian (most of the time), but think it’s because comedy is born in pain, awareness of contradictions in existence,” says Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite, former president of Chicago Theological Seminary.
Comedy resonates. We identify with the punchline and feel the truth of the joke. Comedy can create change along with dedicated advocacy work but until then we are left with the pain of injustice.
© Aaron Krager 2008-2013 | Have any questions? Send me an email.