Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Duh Profundis

They say that the average person's vocabulary contains more negative words and phrases than positive. This might explain why free-form snark rules the day, I suppose. On the whole, it's easier to spit invective than construct a compliment. And if you don't believe me, go fuck a rusty exhaust pipe you unrepentant joytard.

They also say that 90% of the neurotransmitter traffic in your brain is devoted to inhibition. Consciousness emerges through a plastic cascade of retreats -- an "inwardness" that characterizes the mind at its physiological building block. This is why I often find the asceticism of Schopenhauer and Beckett so irritating and redundant. Yes, we are born astride a grave (at least for now) but must we eat astride a toilet? Is the recipe complete without acknowledging the poop that will ultimately issue from it?

My sister got married this past weekend! Right now I feel as happy as I do old -- which isn't a bad tandem if you think about it. Somewhere between my third and fourth glass at the reception, my sister told me I was scheduled to make a toast. And I started to choke because for the life of me I couldn't summon one appropriately embarrassing story about her or her new husband Dave. Inhibition won over invective, I guess. What can I say? They're good people who deserve each other. And I can't wait to play the goofy uncle part that was written for me so long ago. They're also a smart, loving bipartisan couple whose very existence makes it easy to forget the wasted lump of carbon twitching under the breastbone of Ann Coulter or Frank Rich. They even made t-shirts that said "RACHEL-DAVE 2008: Peace. Hope. Matrimony."

Photos coming soon ...

I was watching MSNBC yesterday after my run. They sampled Obama's recent charge that McCain's off-shore drilling proposal has netted him a cool $1million from the oil lobby. Then some anchorface let a RNC wonk ramble through a feeble retort for two minutes. I waited for the conversation to begin, for some back and forth, for a confrontation or at least for an equally feeble response from a DNC wonk. But instead she excitedly rushed to her next story ... Tyra Banks posing as Michele Obama in the New York Post!! OMG!!! Apparently, this was such an imminent development that the network didn't have time to pull up some b-roll or slap together a title graphic. So the giddy anchorface had to hold up a copy of the Post so the camera could zoom in and catch the story. This was followed by thorough coverage of David Letterman's top ten list re: Barack's recent birthday.

Many, many chunks of uninhibited invective rushed to my throat. In no particular order:
  • Like everyone else in the comedy business, Letterman has stopped writing jokes. What the fuck happened to jokes? By jokes I don't mean Mike Meyers mugging or Colbert hyperbole. And I don't mean SNL's mean-spirited parodies or Sarah Silverman's reflexive turds of self-hatred. I mean that quaint modernist chestnut that doesn't need an attitude or posture to make you laugh: a set-up, a punchline, and some spark of wit to unite the two.
  • It seems Paul Shaffer has been instructed to slobber over every other word that comes out of Letterman's mouth so that the lameness of the material can be deflected to the lameness of Paul Shaffer -- thereby converting stillborn non-jokes into their Splenda equivalent: ad hominem mockery.
  • And speaking of SNL -- isn't it amazing how they've managed to get progressively, but imperceptibly, worse from year to year? I think it's part of a strategy to generate perpetual nostalgia for last year's not-quite-as-lame "Best Of" DVD. They really ARE cooking astride a toilet: the material only becomes compelling on the way out.
  • Family Guy and Robot Chicken are two orders of magnitude less creative than the above, but at least they leave a small carbon footprint. They're made of 96% post-consumer material, after all. They don't even recycle actual jokes -- they just recycle the mere memory of, say, having watched an obscure movie like The Empire Strikes Back. The "joke" is supposed to be the little memory neuron that fires with recognition of something you've already seen.
  • So just to sum up. Jokes are out. Mockery, nostalgia, and pop-referencing are in.
  • A man leaves Harvard Law School where he served as editor of the Law Review. He turns down clerkships and oxford-cloth lawyering gigs to camp out on the South Side of Chicago and help people. Clearly he is an arrogant bastard out of touch with regular American families.
  • What the hell is going on? McCain released an ad placing Obama next to Paris Hilton and Britney Spears. I guess to show that Obama's popular. Britney*, you recall, advocates unblinking fealty to "whatever our President says." And Paris Hilton** -- that paragon of dynastic decadence -- is supposed to have common cause with the son of a goat herder. What the hell is going on?
  • Now, I'm guessing that the anchorface dug up the Tyra Banks story on her own because they had to zoom into a hand-held copy of the Post to explain it. But who arranges these things? Did the Obama campaign really think it could counter a RNC spokesperson with two pop-culture nuggets, Tyra and Letterman? Is it working? Or is this just how cable news works? Either way, I'm depressed.
  • Amazing how W managed to erase his blue-blooded pedigree with a few charming gaffes every other word or so. Bush never had to apply for a job or feed his family. But it's all in the twang, you see. And we don't like no uppity boy speakin' with fancy elitist subject-verb agreement and all that. So just to be clear: W comes from a regular American family and Obama is the authoritarian jerk with an outsized sense of entitlement, right?
  • Amazing how W managed to keep the rest of us so thrilled with our indignation and superiority that we forgave his petty catastrophes as the only real jokes worth telling in postmodern liberal America. Knock knock. Who's there? Katrina. Katrina who? Katrina Lewinsky. (REDEEM PUNCHLINE VOUCHER HERE)
  • What's worse than biting into an apple and finding a worm? The Holocaust.
  • How do Helen Keller's parents punish her? They beat the shit out of her.
  • How many women with PMS does it take to screw in a light bulb? Three. (long pause) It just DOES, okay?!
*Britney Isn't it amazing how her downfall and rehab and downfall was built into that first hit single? We knew back in 1998 that this was going to end in disaster. We were banking on it. Consequently, there was nothing remotely scandalous or newsworthy about her drug problem or custody battles or weight gain -- it was all part of the plan. We invested in her disgrace the day she first menstruated and now she's finally paying us back. It was like a college fund -- but instead of knowledge we got to masturbate over the image of a 15-year old girl and then punish her for it when she reached womanhood.

**Paris Hilton Has anyone done a parody character called Helena Travelodge? To complete the irony, she should be a Fulbright Scholar. And beautiful.


the artist formerly known as jess. said...

Have you seen the Paris Hilton "campaign" parody video (in response to McCain's ads, I gather) yet? Well, I haven't either, but I read some of what she says on the video, and it. sounds. HILARIOUS.

If you end up finding it somewhere on YouTube, let me know.

Hannah Blechman said...

That's a little harsh towards cable news, don't you think? It's really quite difficult to fill 24 straight hours with the same 3 exciting news stories.

but what a progression! The way you put it makes the entire thing sound so completely degrading...

p.s. those are spectacular horrible jokes.

The Deceiver said...

I once complained that the one question that has NEVER been asked at a Bush press conference, is the FIRST and most OBVIOUS question that occurred to me the moment I heard the man speak. "Excuse me, Mr. President - before you go any further, could you please explain the fake Texas accent?" Maybe you missed my complaint because I used snark.

Also, there was a Paris Hilton parody character done...on Saturday Night Live! Sarah Michelle Gellar and Maya Rudolph were the Ramada Sisters.

Karl Miller said...

well that's perfect, then ... God, I need to get out more ... Or stay in more? Just tired of my own snark, mostly ...

Rex Winsome said...

Karl, you need to relax about the electoral politics stuff, remind yourself: it doesn't really fucking matter. Capitalism functions under political cycles as well as business cycles. Governments in capitalist nations will cycle between laizzes faire and welfare state in line with the intensity of the class war. America will either swing toward welfare state this election, or the next one. No big difference really, and not much you can do about it either way.

If you wanna be politically invovled in an effective or meaningful way you've gotta dig deeper than anything they'll actually let you vote on.