Sunday, February 18, 2007

Can right-wingers be funny?

I'm not interested in defending the Half Hour News Hour which, as I noted in an earlier post, looks like it's going to be truly awful but Steven Merrit's article for the Observer doesn't have a clue.

He argues that right-wingers can't be satirical because comedy "at its best is inherently subversive, from the Lord of Misrule to Saturday Night Live; it holds up to mockery the follies of those in power". That's right, no left-winger has ever held power and embarked upon a folly. Idiot.

"This is why conservatives and satire just don't go; you can't be subversive and want to preserve the status quo." This is an utter misrepresentation of conservatism even in its most traditionalist, Burkean form. Burkean conservatism respects tried and tested institutions but this does not imply supporting present structures of power as these may or may not reflect the outcome of Burkean, incremental change. In most states left and right will support and oppose the status quo on different issues.

What really bothers me is that Merrit hasn't even bothered to address the huge great hole in his case: South Park. The Peabody Award winning show is libertarian but most comics are probably at the anarchist end of the left-wing as well.

There isn't a lot of right-wing comedy but this difference exists in other cultural activities as well. It isn't because right-wing culture is impossible or because right-wingers are less cultured but because right-wingers have other, rather more practical, things to be doing instead of devoting their lives to telling jokes.


Bishop Hill said...

PJ O'Rourke?

Matthew Sinclair said...

...or Mencken. There is no lack of funny conservative writers. However, they tend to not be defined as comedians in the same way.

Serf said...

A lot of left wing comedy is completely devoid of humour. However, because it has the right digs at the right people, those of the left political persuasion will laugh.

We Conservatives tend to be a little more sophisticated, and a little too individualist to laugh at party propaganda.

Gracchi said...

Look at the medium we are involved in too- think of all the rightwing bloggers most of them use humour and aren't analytical indeed that's my criticism of them.

Meg said...

oh Matt... I was right there with you all the way up until the end... when you blew it all to hell and told us that conservatives are just too practical for comedy. Now I have nothing to add. :)