Endangered Satire

-Leigh Evans

George Carlin must be rolling in his grave.

Used to be, when something offended you, a conversation was started to figure out why. Often this would lead to debate, each side expressing their thoughts in the pursuit of social change. Than social media and twitter changed all that.

Which is the saddest result of all this venom that pumps digitally into our eyes on a constant feed. Joe Bob Briggs and Lloyd Kaufman-both heroes of mine-are geniuses at the practice of barbed satire. A practice that slowly is dying out, some would applaud this and dance on the ashes but I don’t join the enthusiasm. In fact I mourn it, and my heroes now seem endangered.

What we have now are death threats, cancel culture, careers being ruined, and censorship reigning supreme. Of course there is a need for some elite monsters to be taken down-looking at you Weinstein-the one good side effect. People have a voice finally, but the wrong people tend to be a lot louder, often outweighing the good-that’s where we are in 2020. I’m often reminded of my favorite comedian George Carlin, certainly he couldn’t exist in this age. The times of Carlin are over, and so is the time of satire.

Comedians today, are forced to hold their hand, they reserve themselves in order to avoid cancel culture and in turn give in to censorship. Racist and egregiously wrong headed rape sympathizers should be persecuted yes, but we’ve flushed satire along with them. The result, baby food and it only get worse. Ridicule is an important weapon, Joe Bob knows this. I’m reminded of his article from the Dallas times-poking fun at rock stars raising money for starving African children-sure that column might be harsh but it held some truths that were unpopular.

The skewering was focused on the sachrine sing-along “We are the world”. It was ridiculous, the “coked out of their minds” voices singing that song, could have collectively fed Africa for an entire year. But yet they sang at us, and hoped we morons would foot the bill.

“We are the world” did raise some funds, around 147 million in today’s money. But compare that to the amount the late King Of Pop was raking in at the height of his career-about 85 to 100 million in 80’s buckaroos. Now take the earnings of the other 17 performers in that studio-many of who were topping the charts-and you get an obscene amount of money. Half of which could have sent all the children of Haiti to private schools. But we don’t like knocking our celebs, we don’t like truths.

Joe Bob lampooned the wrong folks considered gods back in 1985-the glittery elite that shambled away from their stretch limos long enough to tell us about poor people. Briggs went on to greater things but still to this day fights censorship-and retains his satirical machine gun that he often lets loose on occasion.

Satire is important, it holds a special power to humble those who deem themselves untouchable and poke holes in ridiculous thoughts. It’s an enemy to those who would rather keep us fighting amongst ourselves. But thought has been compressed into small little digital quip cubes that accomplish nothing. When’s the last time anyone conversed, or even debated serious issues? No we retreat to our digitally created personas, to cherry pick pieces of age old articles and yell “racism” “sexist” “homophobe”. Is anyone’s level of reading comprehension on par these day?

I’ve constantly seen remarks that Joe Bob and Lloyd, have subscribed to ignorant thought. Isn’t it more ignorant to take things out of context, placing your own subtext on someone’s writing? Isn’t that how we got book burnings of the past? There are issues out in our world that seriously outraged people are fighting, but sure lets pick apart an article we just discovered.

Obviously this is just another case of people faking knowledge, because I’ve followed these two for around 28 years of my life. I’m an obsessive, so I’ve poured over books and articles they’ve written as well as movies and television shows. Their works are steeped in social satire that almost pleads with people to be better to eachother, yet they are the first to be attacked. When often they are the first to speak against attack.

Take Lloyd for example, I’m sure if you’ve followed his career you’ve seen the infamous Morton Downey j.r. appearance. Lloyd appeared on the show to discuss TROMAS WAR, but discussion wasn’t on loud mouth Morton’s menu. TROMAS WAR is possibly the first film to make social commentary on the aids epidemic, sexism, and of course Ronald Reagan’s hard on for armed combat. Of course the satirist has always been pushed around and censored.

Back to George Carlin for a moment, he was arrested for saying dirty words back in 1972. Carlin’s seven words would go down in history as a cause for actual free speech. His case was dismissed, this opened the flood gates for aspiring comedians to tap into our frustrations and truly make us all laugh. Sadly though, Carlin would have been canceled in 2020. Free speech is an illusion, we scream for it yet control who gets it and at what time.

Sure, you have every right to be offended and voice your side. But as much as you’d like it not to be, all of this is a two way street. You should be prepared to defend your opinion and not resort to childish name calling or smashing the block button. If you can’t defend your objection, than perhaps it was hollow, rethink why you feel that way. That’s what’s really missing from our neat little online personas, conversation.

I’m not a huge fan of labels, so In turn many people don’t know we’re I stand on certain issues. The goal I have, is to get people to converse with me. Wanna know what sexuality I am? Ask me. It’s not hard, perhaps getting to actually know someone is dead too? I don’t lean left or right and I don’t have labels because I’m just Leigh. That’s all you really need to know about me up front, the rest you can get by engaging me in actually conversation. Satire is a road map to that.

The satirist is provocative, it comes with the territory. Shaking things up to get people thinking and talking is the goal. We need more Joe Bob’s and Lloyd’s in this world, before satire is shut out completely. So before you start down an empty road of attack, try discussions first. You might actually learn something.

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