Pete Kaliner

Pete Kaliner

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Super Serious Media People are Very Mad at Comedy

The people who rely on Jon Stewart, Noah Trevor, Stephen Colbert, and Samantha Bee for their news and analysis are very upset that comedians, satirical websites, and prank phone callers mock them and their ideology.

It's to be expected, of course. After all, Rule 5 states: "Ridicule is man's most potent weapon. It's hard to counterattack ridicule, and it infuriates the opposition, which then reacts to your advantage."

Last night Ricky Gervais hosted the Golden Globes Awards show, and laid waste to Hollywood shibboleths in a hilarious monologue:

The reaction from the Comedy Police was predictable.

Here's Slate:

Going into the Golden Globes, the biggest question was not who will win the night’s biggest awards but how much of a jerk Ricky Gervais would be. Over the course of his four previous hosting gigs, Gervais has cultivated the reputation of a provocateur unafraid to challenge the rich and powerful, whether it be by taking aim at Mel Gibson’s anti-Semitism or Caitlyn Jenner’s transition (although he is sorry about that one time he made fun of Tim Allen’s movie career). On occasion, Gervais does genuinely speak truth to power, but much of the time he’s just, well, being kind of a dick.

And The Daily Beast:

Ricky Gervais opened the show and did his Ricky Gervais thing. If you hire a smarmy jackass and he acts like a smarmy jackass, then presumably you’ve gotten a return on investment. 
He poked and prodded at the privilege and hypocrisy of the rich and famous, though his iron may be too dull at this point to stoke real fire. The bit doesn’t have the same edge, with more rolled eyes than wide eyes at the material in the numerous cutaways to unamused celebrities in the audience. 
But that’s how little impact there is to the Gervais schtick by this point; everyone just moved along as if he hadn’t said anything at all, unfazed. If what he was saying truly made anyone uncomfortable, he wouldn’t keep getting invited back. 

I am often reminded of Mel Brooks' famous line: "Tragedy is when I stub my toe. Comedy is when you fall into an open manhole and die."

Which is probably why the scolds at the Washington Post are Very Concerned that a couple of Russian pranksters pretended to be globe-trotting truant and climate alarmist Greta Thunberg, and prank-called Congresswoman Maxine Waters:

Whether the pair are agents of the Russian government, the kind of ruse they pulled on Waters can accomplish two goals for Russia, according to Kathleen Hall Jamieson, a communications professor at the University of Pennsylvania and the author of the 2018 book, “Cyberwar: How Russian Hackers and Trolls Helped Elect a President.”
“The first [goal] is adding info to a political dialogue in which discrediting one side is useful to Russia,” Jamieson told The Post by phone. “The second is being able to make the argument to the rest of the world that U.S. leaders are easily duped. Putin’s interests are served when U.S. leaders are made to look foolish in the eyes of the world.”
Kuznetsov and Stolyarov started pranking their own rich and famous countrymen around 2014, before moving on to targets like Elton John, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and, more recently, Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) and Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.). The men pose as prominent figures their targets would be keen to speak with, engage them in conversation and then post the audio to their YouTube channel.

Here's the call:

Which brings us the utterly ridiculous and hysterically incisive Babylon Bee - a satirical website patterned after The Onion, but from a conservative view. The leftist Humor Judges have no problem with stories at the site headlined: "Trump Reminds Everyone He Hasn't Been Impeached All Decade" or "John Bolton Can't Believe He Left White House Just Before War With Iran."

But outrage ensued when the Babylon Bee posted this over the weekend:

See, it's funny when leftwing comedians joke about how the only scandal during the Obama administration was when he wore a tan suit, but it's insulting and offensive to make a joke about the Democrats suing Iran over the right to use "Death to America" as their official 2020 campaign slogan.

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