Twenty years later, this joke still works!
Posts Tagged ‘satire’
Everyone knows I love The Simpsons. Usually, when talking about it, I tend to focus on the quality of its satiric social commentary. However, there’s another area where it excels which draws me in, too.
The Simpsons invented and perfected the art of both subverting sitcom conventions while generally operating within and even celebrating those conventions. It’s a genius balancing act of ironic innovation and standard storytelling, and they were the best.
Until now. Certainly the reigning champ of satire for at least a decade has been South Park, and now the geek contingent has a new paragon of worshipful TV meta-analysis. It’s Community.
I’ve watched on and off for all three seasons, but it was only in the second half of this last season that I started watching faithfully.
If you haven’t seen the two paintball-themed, spaghetti Western parody episodes that closed season two (“A Fistful of Paintballs,” “For a Few Paintballs More”), you’re missing some of the funniest TV ever made.
But they just got snubbed in the Emmy nominations for the third year in a row.
Here’s a great bit from the credits of the second episode they aired.
How telling that common sense satire, so subversive 30 years ago, is now so contrary to political correctness that it may well now constitute a hate crime. Here, we see the logical failure of sexual identity politics in the real world, and the juvenile futility of the anti-imperialism bandwagon.
A satirical web site has gone up inviting users to help the “many Mormons throughout history [who] have died without having known the joys of homosexuality.” You enter a name, click a button, and the deceased will then somehow have the chance denied them in mortality.
I think this is a great idea. Seriously.
The only problem is, this web site’s method isn’t truly analogous to what Mormons do in their temples at all. Here would be a far closer parallel:
Users would first have to do research to identify their own ancestors who died without being able to try homosexuality. After all, your motive in this project is to bless those whose lives led to your own. This will require dozens and even hundreds of hours of interviews, online research, and contacting vital records departments.
Once you’ve identified your ancestors, you can’t simply click a button, though. You must travel to a certain special place dedicated to this work, which will require you to set aside a few hours, on average. Once there, the work itself involves a simple ritual, but one that must be done precisely, and repeated for each ancestor.
If you care about your departed forefathers being able to enjoy the same things you’ve been blessed to enjoy, then this effort should be a small price to pay.
I genuinely hope that the creators and users of this site will upgrade their satire and find a richer spiritual experience through their service, as millions of Latter-day Saints find in baptism for the dead. Then, I think, we’ll have more to talk about.
To be self-contented is to be vile and ignorant, [but] to aspire is better than to be blindly and impotently happy.
–Edwin A. Abbott, Flatland
As everyone knows, Abraham Lincoln was a very well educated young man. He became exceptionally fluent in literature and history early in childhood. This was due to the amount of tax dollars the government spent on public education. Federal programs, also, allowed computer technology, multicultural activities, and paid teacher trainings to bless young Lincoln with the massive support structure necessary for anyone to learn anything. Thank goodness there weren’t any budget cuts to threaten the funding for Lincoln’s many years in elementary school! Otherwise, he may not have become such a great leader, and we may never have won World War II!
Next week: How Joining a Union Made Socrates a Better Teacher
Note: for the satire challenged, the truth is that Lincoln, like many great people of years past, had very little formal schooling at all, and educated himself by reading serious classics on his own. Without taxpayer-funded schools or unions! This joke was inspired by this post.
From the Holy Book of Teacheriah, an Epistle to the Unionians, chapter 5, verses 5-10:
5 And in that great and last day, there shall be a famine of public-sector budgets in the land, and the houses of learning shall be in mighty want;
6 And there shall arise many great heroes, like unto the saints of old, who shall go forth armed with self righteous power to do battle with the Anti-Nice, that fiend who fails to respond to demands for funding, and his legion of dragons, the Fiscally Conservative Beast;
7 But lo, and verily, those Holy Activists, clothed with authority by virtue of their indignation, shall cleanse the lepers and raise the dead, and they shall multiply the few scant dollars in the treasury to become many millions, that thus the ancient bureaucracy may continue to thrive;
IRS- Tax forms must be submitted by April 15. No exceptions.
Citizen A- But I didn’t have time! I had other things to do.
IRS – What things got in the way of a priority obligation that comes around ever year?
Citizen A – You know, like dances and field trips and clubs and stuff.
IRS – That’s OK. Just get it in when you have a chance, please.
Citizen B – I didn’t understand it. Can I just do it later?
IRS – Did you file for an extension with us first?
Citizen B- No.
IRS – Did you contact us for help ahead of time?
Citizen B – No.
IRS – Sure! Do whatever you want!
Citizen C – I have some other excuse. Can I get out of it, too?
IRS – Of course! Those firm deadlines aren’t for people with excuses for not getting it done.
Citizen D- This sucks. I don’t want to do it either.
IRS – Hey, sure, cool. No pressure. Do some of it when you can, or not. Whatever you want.
Citizen E- I already did my taxes, but I did them way, way wrong. Can I still turn them in and get credit?
IRS- Fine by me! It wouldn’t be fair to make you do them over.
Boss- Smithson, you’ve been late to work more often than not, you no-call/no-showed twice, your last expense report was copied from Wikipedia, and you keep breaking the company’s policy about no personal calls during work hours. I’m afraid I have to reduce your salary.
Employee- You can’t do that! You hate me! That’s not fair!
NOTICE: The following is SATIRE. Think about it.
Here’s the easiest way to know that Mormons don’t really think their Book of Mormon is true: they hide it as much as they can!
The next time you talk to some Mormon, ask them why nobody but the “worthy” is allowed to even see a copy, not until after they’ve served the church for years and given it a ton of money. If the Book of Mormon is supposed to be concrete evidence that their beliefs are true, then why keep it under wraps until after people already have “faith”?
If Mormons really believed that their book was that capable of building and defending their faith, they’d be trying to get everybody in the world to read it. But since they keep it hidden like some mysterious secret, they must know that if skeptical non-Mormons ever read it, it would be exposed and embarrass them.
In fact, there are some theories out there that the Book of Mormon doesn’t even exist. Some scholars think that Mormons made up the whole story about it as a way to fool the gullible, to tease them into working for their church, and by the time these suckers were in deep enough to be shown the text of this alleged book, it was too late–they were hooked. The few bits and pieces that are publicly quoted have probably been cooked up and revised over the years just to keep the charade going.
Can you imagine if the Mormons actually ever published the whole book, and invited–even challenged–the whole world to dig into it as deeply as we can, promising that it would not only stand up to analysis, but spiritually convert those who took it seriously? Even worse, imagine if their church founder had done that back at the very beginning! That would take some major guts.
But luckily we don’t have to worry about that. As long as they keep covering it up, we can rest easy that it’s surely a scam.
In fact, let’s call them on their bluff. Confront the next Mormon you see and demand that they give you a copy of this so-called “Book of Mormon” for you to study. Bet you anything they’ll refuse. Mormons hate it when people try to read the Book of Mormon.
Despite the scorn leveled at it by the elite mainstream, the Tea Party movement has illustrated something significant about America: we’re fed up with the status quo and its increasing power grabs. In the last few years, not only have there been Tea Party protests, we’ve also had a popular political tract called Common Sense, and groups calling themselves Sons of Liberty are growing. The fact that there are so many new things inspired by that volatile time in our history should be sobering for all of us.
I’d like to offer a humble contribution to this trend.
On September 11, 1773–the year of the Boston Tea Party–Benjamin Franklin published a satire of England’s poor management of the colonies, presented as twenty pieces of humorous advice for getting rid of them: “Rules By Which a Great Empire May Be Reduced To a Small One.” Below, I’ve adapted Franklin’s text to include references to current problems. The scary thing is, I didn’t need to change or add very much at all. Most of Franklin’s scathing indictment applies just as well to today’s American government as it did to King George’s administration in 1773.
Make of it what you will, but the fact that Franklin can be so easily adapted to the Tea Party’s concerns should also be very sobering to all of us.
“Rules By Which a Free Republic May Be Reduced To a Socialist One”
The Founding Fathers accomplished this, that tho’ they were not perfect, they could make a federalist republic out of a chaotic confederacy of former colonies that had been ruled by fascist autocrats. The Science that I, a modern Simpleton, am about to communicate is the very reverse.
I address myself to all Ministers who have the Management of the American Republic, which from its very Freedom is become difficult to govern, because the Degree of its Freedom leaves no Room for Control.
I. In the first Place, Gentlemen, you are to consider, that a free Republic, like a great Cake, is most easily diminished at the Edges. Turn your Attention therefore first to your remotest States (those on your coasts, like New York, California, &c); that as you deprive them of Freedom, the interior Heartland may follow in Order.
II. That the Possibility of this Control may come to pass, take special Care the interior States are never respected in your public discourse, that they do not enjoy the same common Dignity, the same Privileges in Debate, and that they are governed by severer Political Correctness, all of your enacting, without allowing them any Share in the Choice of the Rules. By carefully making and preserving such Distinctions, you will (to keep to my Simile of the Cake) act like a wise Gingerbread Baker, who, to facilitate a Destruction, cuts his Dough half through in those Places, where, when bak’d, he would have it broken to Pieces.
III.These Freedoms have perhaps been acquired at the sole Expence of the our Ancestors and Military, without the Aid of the Mother Government. If this should happen to increase the People’s Strength by their growing Numbers ready to join in her Wars, and her Commerce by their growing Demand for her Manufactures, they may probably suppose some Merit in this, and that it entitles them to some Favour; you are therefore to forget it all, or resent it as if they had done you Injury. If they happen to be zealous Whigs, Friends of Liberty, Conservatives, or (worst of all) Tea Partiers, nurtur’d in Revolution Principles, remember all that to their Prejudice, and contrive to punish it: For such Principles, after a Revolution is thoroughly established, are of no more Use, they are even odious and abominable.
IV. However peaceably your Citizens have submitted to your Government, you are to suppose them always inclined to revolt, and treat them accordingly. Smear and restrict their Second Amendment rights, and be ever Hostile to those who assert these Rights. By this Means, like the Husband who uses his Wife ill from Suspicion, you may in Time convert your Suspicions into Realities.
Teaching Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar this month reminded me of the current brouhaha over the supposed intrusiveness of the 2010 federal census. In Act III, Scene 3, a minor character runs afoul of an angry mob that has been whipped up to a homicidal frenzy by the Machiavellian machinations of Marc Antony. In the following confrontation, the rowdy gang’s aggressive questioning sounded like something right out of some characterizations of how this year’s census will work:
SCENE III. A street.
Enter CINNA the poet
CINNA THE POET
I dreamt to-night that I did feast with Caesar,
And things unlucky charge my fantasy:
I have no will to wander forth of doors,
Yet something leads me forth.
First Citizen: What is your name?
Second Citizen: Whither are you going?
Third Citizen: Where do you dwell?
Fourth Citizen: Are you a married man or a bachelor?
Second Citizen: Answer every man directly.
First Citizen: Ay, and briefly.
Fourth Citizen: Ay, and wisely.
Third Citizen: Ay, and truly, you were best.
Of course, Cinna cooperates and ends up beaten to death, anyway, so perhaps this is less a satire and more a cautionary tale…
I think I finally get it. I understand why Harry Reid is pushing so aggressively for this health care reform.
Remember Atlas Shrugged? Besides John Galt, the capitalist superman recruiting strikers behind the scenes, another freedom fighter was Francisco D’Anconia, who paraded as a worthless playboy so nobody would suspect him of helping to sabotage the whole economic system, overloading it and destabilizing it from within.
Maybe that’s what Reid is doing. As D’Anconia was pretending to be a thoughtless hedonist, Reid might just be pretending to be a clueless elitist. Perhaps Reid is actually a conservative and this is his way of destroying the corrupt, bloated, ineffective machinery of government that progressives have built up over the last century: he’s going to put so much weight on the shaky framework that liberals have constructed that it will finally have to collapse in on itself, exposing the whole thing as a scam and allowing us to start over.
Think about it: if a Randian hero were working undercover to subvert our broken system, a la D’Anconia, wouldn’t this health care bill be exactly the way to do it? Wouldn’t Harry Reid be in the perfect position to throw a great big wrench in the gears?
Maybe Reid knows exactly what he’s doing. Maybe–just maybe–he’s championing a disastrously bad work of legislation on purpose.
And, Senator, if this is actually true and I’ve just blown your cover…sorry.
There is a great inequity in justice in our public school systems. I refer, of course, to the fact that some students have higher grades than others. This can only be the result of institutional disenfranchisement, and must be corrected by government intervention. Besides, our nation’s future faces catastrophic academic failure if we don’t artificially prop it up now.
By which I mean, the failing students need a bailout.
All of those kids who are only half as likely to do any kind of studying or homework as they are to even show up at all will be granted a special dispensation from the Department of Education, something in the neighborhood of, say, 800 billion points. (Though, what with corruption, unforeseen needs, and poor management, that total will likely exceed a trillion points.)
So every slacker who sat there and chose to finish a class with a 2% grade will now get to graduate, which is perfectly fair. Uncle Sam will guarantee the success of every student in America. After all, what with the obesity epidemic, most American kids are “too big to fail.”
In the face of staggering, record-breaking trillion-dollar deficits for this year and the foreseeable future, America was understandably worried about its financial future. Luckily, several unexpected windfalls came up and helped America break even.
“I was all sweating about these bills I got coming up, you know, infrastructure and social security and stuff, but then I got this call and it was like a miracle…I totally won the lottery!” an elated United States told the Associated Press yesterday.
The fiscally irresponsible country will get $10 billion as a reward for picking the right ticket in a scratch-off lotto from a nearby gas station. The international superpower will, however, have to share their winnings with two housewives from Omaha, who also picked the winning numbers by playing their children’s birthdays.
Of course, ten billion dollars hardly covers the debt that America, like many impulsive, short-sighted consumers, has racked up in recent times. The calls from bill collectors were still troubling the distraught democracy, threatening to repossess the volunteer military and bicameral legislature that it got at the mall when the economy was riding high, but against all odds, the U.S. got another fortuitous surprise.
“My great aunt Agatha died!” said America in the same interview. Trying not to sound too excited about the demise of a relative, it explained, “She wasn’t really close to anybody else in the family–she and Australia haven’t even spoken in, like, fifty years–but she wanted to leave me her life savings. I guess she thought I had potential or something.”
Aunt Agatha’s will left a plum $50 billion to the spendthrift republic. “But there’s a catch,” America said. “She didn’t want me to blow it all on pork and stuff, so I can’t get it until I can show a balanced budget.”
Such a task might sound daunting for a country that now throws out the word trillion the way it used to say million, but America now sounds more confident. “I have a plan. I’ve been saving up my old baseball cards for a rainy day, and I’m totally gonna sell them on E-Bay for, like, a hundred trillion bucks. Dude, I’ve got a Daryl Strawberry rookie card. Seriously.”
NOTE: The joke being, if our financial woes aren’t solved this way, then what exactly do we expect to happen? Isn’t this actually the most realistic hope we have? Also, I liked comparing America to a dumb kid who needs an adult to help it pay the rent, and this time’s the last time, honestly. I had a really good interview at Burger King, so I’m totally gonna have a job next month!
Washington D.C., A Few Generations Ago–Leading executives from America’s major communications and transportation endeavors are converging on the floor of the Capitol today to plea for federal bailout money from Congress to prop up their flailing enterprises.
A spokesman for AT&T–American Telephone and Telegraph–laid out his case for receiving government assistance to the tune of, say, $14 billion. “The telegraph industry is suffering a severe economic drought. If the taxpayers don’t pony up and help us ensure the ongoing stability of the telegraph…the telegraph industry may collapse. Do you realize what a catastrophic emergency that would be?!”
Representatives from Central Pacific Railroad and the Mississippi Delta Steamboat Company also made their case to elected officials for the critical need to immediately inject gobs of fluid funding into their bankrupt institutions. “These are American jobs we’re talking about here, people,” they read from a prepared joint statement, getting emotional. “America needs our businesses to continue operating, and to continue operating exactly the way they always have. If Congress doesn’t approve a bailout for us, how many good, honest, hard working Americans will be permanently out of work? After all, nothing could ever come along to replace those jobs. Railroads and steamboats are all we’ll ever have. And our stocks have dipped sharply recently. C’mon, America! We absolutely need to keep the railroad and steamboat stocks up. Without them, the future will surely be a barren wasteland.”
Similar sentiments were expressed by several other major American conglomerations of industry. In fact, when one Senator suggested that some businesses might get a bailout and others wouldn’t, a fistfight broke out between the officers of two of America’s most permanent pillars of stability: Horse and Buggy Franchises and Confederated Slave Holdings.
NOTE: Obviously I wrote this in a hurry, not doing any of the research the idea deserves. Please excuse the lack of rigorous historicity. Still, I think the point is pretty clear.