Wednesday, June 18, 2008

How Dare He Say Such A Thing...

Michael Gerson is appalled:
But the vulgarity of "The Jerry Springer Show" or misogynous rap music -- the cultural equivalents of Franken's political "satire" -- generally expresses contempt and cruelty. Franken is not content to disagree with Karl Rove; he calls him "human filth."
How could Franken say such a mean thing about Turd Blossom? It's time to raise the level of political discourse!

I liked this as well:
So what is Franken's "provocative, touching and funny" contribution to the genre? Consider his article in Playboy magazine titled "Porn-O-Rama!" in which he enthuses that it is an "exciting time for pornographers and for us, the consumers of pornography."
In Playboy? It's hard to imagine that they would publish adolescent sexually oriented humor pieces in Playboy.
"Porn-O-Rama!" is a modern campaign document every voter should read -- the Federalist Papers of lifestyle liberalism. It has the literary sensibilities and moral seriousness of an awkward adolescent nerd publishing an underground newspaper to shock his way into campus popularity
Again, this is Playboy we're talking about? Adolescent humor? I thought all they did was publish interviews with Jimmy Carter. (Let it never be said that Gerson isn't happy to regurgitate GOP talking points - but could he truly see an eight-year-old Playboy article as a "campaign document"?)
At an event hosted by the Feminist Majority Foundation in 1999, Franken offered this thigh-slapper: "Why don't we focus on what Afghan women can do? They can cook, bear children and pray. As I recall, that was fine for our grandmothers."
If only Gerson had gotten there on time, he could have explained to Franken that feminists don't have a sense of humor, and had no chance of figuring out that Franken was making fun of conservatives and not them. And, having read Gerson's column, we all now know that jokes about conservatives are not funny.

You know, as satire goes, at least to me Franken's not particularly compelling. He's far too obvious. I see him as much more a comedian who happens to address political subjects. But unlike Gerson, when I see somebody acting on a stage or performing on TV, I don't assume, "The person must be just like that in real life." Nor do I see the pulling of "shocking" punch lines from jokes told over a period of ten or twenty years, and presenting them as representative of a person, as particularly honest. (But if Gerson intends his own piece as satire of the "emptiness and viciousness of our political discourse", with his usual emphasis on "emptiness", maybe he's on the right track.)

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