In the timeless metaphor of the illusory nature of consensus reality (aka fairy tale) The Emperor’s New Clothes, the child laughs and exclaims “the emperor is naked!” Andersen’s take-home point in this tale is not about nudity but laughter, because the ruler’s embarrassment is a response to being laughed at, not to being undressed. Before that, the emperor was only too happy to strut the royal jewels, so long as everyone pretended he wasn’t.
One single laugh and the elaborate farce dissolves like a rodent in a can of cola. This is one of the reasons why tyrannical power systems –comprising almost entirely of people in costumes acting important– tend to be dour and humorless. That and because humor is ultimately an expression of human freedom.
The hallowed art of satire points out the moral nakedness of authority using humor as a vehicle. Argueably the highest form humor, satire is a formidable weapon against tyranny, because there is no defense against it except making it dangerous to laugh. If Andersen were writing his fairy tales today, the laughing child –a satirist in the making– would be beaten senseless by riot cops for daring to state the obvious.
Ever since Aristotle’s treatise on humor was “lost” in the custody of the roamin’ catchalick church sometime in the dark ages, the power of humor to counterbalance authority has withered amidst the general indifference of a population seriously infatuated with being serious. Thus, when great satirists ply their risky trade –as Bill Hicks liked to say, using humor like the flaming sword of Kali to slash through hypocrisy and lies– the laughs stay in private. Humor itself cannot be erradicated, but it can be emasculated by the assumption that because it makes us laugh it isn’t serious and if it isn’t serious then it isn’t valid.
It has been too long since humor played the pivotal role it deserves in shaping public opinion. The pernicious brain-chain that humor is not serious must be broken if we are ever to wield this powerful weapon to our advantage in the war of the words. That humorous statements can’t have real impact is carefully groomed perception management to keep the genie in the bottle. Make no mistake, humor can be dead serious. If we were half as serious about our humor as we are about everything else, maybe there would be more to laugh about. What comes first, the cackling chicken or the funny egg?
Jon Stewart’s show on Comedy Central is considered teevee’s most trusted news source by many Americans. Is that a joke? Not even close. The joke are the mainstream media shills that spout toxic corporate waste from their holes and call it serious news for serious people with serious lives and serious business with other serious people. Modern slavery is for dead serious folks only.
What a crock of petty self-aggrandizing strutting buffalo manure we’ve become. Only thing that makes us laugh is the degradation of others. We have become to humor what rape is to love.
We can do better than use our god-given gift of humor to sneer at the weak and adulate the strong. Satire uses it to sneer at the strong, adulate the weak and provide a dose of sanity in an otherwise crazy world. Literary types like Swift, Wilde, Twain, HST; cartoonists like Walt Kelly and Gary Trudeau; stand-up comedians like Lenny Bruce, Bill Hicks, George Carlin… these are the modern jesters who seek to share the most potent remedy against inflated egos ever invented. As Carlin liked to remind us: “Freud said sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. Oh yeah? Well sometimes it’s a big brown dick stuck between the lips of a fat white pussy”.
We miss you, George. How come you’re gone and all those pussy lips still here?
The vast humor of Universe is like the laughter of a child, delicate and playful, but with the power to topple empires. It is a high frequency vibration, liberating and healing, which human beings as a species have the capacity to create and share. It is a rare gift, at least here on Terra, and must be cared for accordingly, for just as our suffering and rage feed our overlords, every molecule of pure humor we can muster is a kick in their scaly groins and maybe, just maybe, one more awakened mind somewhere.
Satire is the silver bullet, the wooden stake, the shaft of sunlight, the flaming sword and the frontline of human resistance. If the revolution doesn’t make you laugh out loud, then maybe the joke’s on you. Seriously.
Emperor illustration http://www.michaelnus.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/emperors-new-clothes.jpg