Here’s something you never see. Politically liberal publication Salon and its self-admittedly politically liberal writer Alex Pareene are publicly calling out politically liberal comedian Andy Borowitz as “not funny.” Pareene makes the same observation that I did when the New Yorker purchased the Borowitz Report.
“Clearly the major issue moving forward is how the Borowitz Report’s ultra-liberal political slant will mesh with The New Yorker’s mega-liberal political slant. For example: Will the two entities clash over whether Mitt Romney is an awful human being or just a terrible excuse of a man? Only time will tell.
“Nonetheless, congratulations are in order for Borowitz. In the last year he has signed on with one of the most respected publishers of humor in the nation and published one of the best collections of humor ever printed. It’s great to see humor writers being taken seriously, and although Borowitz might do well to discover that it’s not just the Republicans who are completely evil and corrupt, his humor remains enjoyable and necessary.”
I stand by that. I am glad to see humor writers get respect. Borowitz compiled an enjoyable humor anthology, and some of his jokes are good. But I also believed then, and believe now, that Borowitz’s point of view is too narrow. We get it. Grrr! Republicans bad! How about pointing some of that rage at other deserving targets?
Pareene echoed my analysis. Here’s how he opened the piece:
“Andy Borowitz makes dad jokes for self-satisfied liberals. If you think Sarah Palin is stupid and Mitt Romney is rich, Andy Borowitz has some jokes that will decidedly not challenge a single one of your prior assumptions!”
I’d like to add something to what I originally wrote. I should have gone deeper on this. Borowitz’s humor is, as I wrote, necessary. It’s necessary for Republicans.
When comics like Borowitz only aim their humor at Republicans, they do Democrats a disservice. If there is truth to the comedian’s message, the Republicans eventually will get it that they look like a bunch of rich, evil guys. They soften their tone. They change their image, if not their platform. They move incrementally towards something that, publicly, looks less gross. They adjust because they’re getting razor-sharp feedback from clever and motivated people.
Meanwhile Democrats have no idea how ridiculous they look because the nation’s most talented and thoughtful comedians (most of them liberals) are too busy bashing at Republicans to give the Democrats a fair critique. As a result, Democrats are rarely reminded how dumb they can look. I am looking in your direction, anyone who had a hand in the political career of one Joe Biden.
When criticism is fair, the one being criticized learns. When it’s not fair, the critic appears foolish. When there is no criticism, and you’re a politician surrounded by people who keep telling you how great you are, you the politician receive no value.
I’d like to claim this idea as my own, but it’s a variation of Wall Street Journal writer James Taranto’s “The Taranto Principle,” which is when “the media’s failure to hold left-wingers accountable for bad behavior merely encourages the left’s bad behavior to the point that its candidates are repellent to ordinary Americans.”
Comedians, much like the press, provide another check on government power and idiocy. And the best humor writers–H.L. Mencken comes to mind–spare no one.
Photo via Salon