Monday, 21 July 2008

Joking aside

Right, glass of red at hand it's time for a serious blog post. I'll try to keep it brief.

You see, it's this business of "Can we laugh at Obama?" that's getting to me.

Ever since the cover of The New Yorker crashed and burned the media has been navel gazing, asking itself if it can poke fun at the presidential candidate.

We're talking serious column inches dedicated to this non-issue. Presumably WASP journos are keeping themselves awake at night fretting about whether they've become institutionally racist without even noticing. Please stand up: Joel Stein, LA Times, Jeff Zeleny, New York Times, I won't even go on.

Obviously, they haven't. But they have noticed that something is happening.
The public don't want to laugh - whether the jokes are funny or not.

Facing more crises than the human brain can easily comprehend (just for starters: Iraq, Iran, credit crunch, rising food costs, climate change, Afghanistan) maybe people are prepared to take politics seriously again.

Maybe it's because we seriously need some solutions, and seriously need to lose the apathy. Who else is betting we see a record turn-out at both the next US and UK elections?

Satire just doesn't sit right with the current public mood - there's a real desire to believe in something. For once we're not hoping for another juicy Oval Office scandal, we're looking for someone to give us hope.

Now that we're in a corner we've decided we need the next J F Kennedy and Martin Luther King rolled into one. The fact that we're happily manufacturing a Democratic Presidential candidate who embodies the two biggest talismanic icons of 20th century America suggests it might be time to kill the wise cracks.

Can Obama deliver? Maybe. I'd like to think so, but to this issue that's irrelevant.

What's boring, and what made me write this in the first place, is that the minute a joke about a black guy bombs it's because he's black. No, New Yorker - it's not, it's because you can't let go of the cynicism and key into the mood of your readers.


Captain Mac said...

I think the New Yorker's cover was a brave attempt to ridicule the way anything Obama does is instantly made to appear as if he is a Muslim terrorist by the right wing blogosphere, but it didn't work because it was not made clear enough.

We should be able to laugh at candidates in any election, but this election is different because things are so bleak and because Americans take the idea of the office of the president so seriously after Bush and co's trampling of the constitution.

Kevin said...

Good call... I think it all went Pete Tong partly as a reaction to the republican (and formerly Hilary Clinton) racist attacks, but you're spot on with the call to change. Maybe 60% turnout in the next elections?