[Marxism] Fwd: Satirized for Your Consumption

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Nov 7 11:08:18 MST 2017


When Bill Maher first adopted the tagline “satirized for your 
protection,” it was an edgy brag, not a humble one, meant to convey that 
his show, Politically Incorrect, would not allow the news of the day to 
remain safely spun. Twenty years later, a better slogan for the humor of 
the Information Age would be “satirized for your consumption.” Forget 
stodgy speeches that begin with trite one-liners to break the ice. As 
the traditional targets of satire seek to demonstrate their relevance to 
our wit-wired lives, full-on comedic performance has become their 
principal disarming strategy. Soon after President Obama appeared on 
Between Two Ferns, Hillary Clinton bandied talk of a 2016 run at the 
presidency—on Jon Stewart’s show, not on Meet the Press. And when a 
recent blizzard in New York fizzled out earlier than forecast, leaving 
little snow but many transit closures, Mayor De Blasio charmed the city 
by reading aloud from the Onion’s dystopian parody of his snowmongering.

And then, of course, there’s the CIA. When the agency opened its 
official Twitter account, it did so with a wry quip about its own 
institutional inability to tell the truth: “We can neither confirm nor 
deny that this is our first tweet.”

Not unpredictably, spy watchdogs and intelligence monitors raised a hue 
and cry over the agency’s puckish foray into social media. The CIA, 
after all, relies on the cover of official secrecy to torture and 
assassinate, to pay off unscrupulous leaders and bagmen, to choreograph 
coups d’états, and to prop up client states abroad. There’s nothing 
inherently funny about such activities. More important, it was more than 
a little jarring to see the CIA lay claim to the language of satire. We 
assume satire is for the truth teller, not the truth obscurer. When 
George Orwell created the irony-laden government-speak of Nineteen 
Eighty-Four, his joke pivoted on one key distinction: we as readers, and 
not the gray and earnest administrators of Oceania, recognize its bleak 
absurdity for what it is. But now the CIA has shown, in our satirized 
era, that it, too, is in on the joke.

The strident detractors of the anonymous smart aleck(s) behind the CIA 
account had a point: when the official spokesmen of the national 
security state greet you with a smirk and a good one-liner, you’d 
probably better be skeptical of their motives. Dark humor about the CIA 
is nothing new. But humor from the CIA? To mug for us, à la James Bond 
wisecracking as he tosses Generic Foreign-Accent Bond Villain #243 out 
of an airplane? That’s something new.

full: https://thebaffler.com/salvos/satirized-consumption



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