There’s a guest post over at Hollywood in Toto titled The Fatal Flaw in Today’s Woke Comedy that’s worth reading. Its thesis is that woke comedy tries to be didactic but fails because it has nothing to teach. Good comedy often succeeds because it does teach us something about ourselves. The Marx Brother’s Duck Soup, made during the rise of Mussolini and Hitler, teaches about the problems of authoritarian government. Mel Brook’s Blazing Saddles teaches about the underlying absurdity of racism. And both are very funny movies.
I often hear that it would be impossible to make a movie like Blazing Saddles or The Life of Brian in today’s Hollywood. Instead, we are seeing woke attempts at humor, but wokeness has no firm principles to stand on. This often results in the comedy missing its intended target and becoming self-mockery. While conservatives can still slip on banana peels, their often a harder target for comedy.
Real conservatives have principles, and these principles are based in reality. This frees us to be able to laugh at almost anything that is genuinely funny, including ourselves. Having principles frees the ego from inflexibility. But the woke person is constantly evaluating whether something is “didactic” in the correct way. They have to pull out their intersectional checklist before allowing themselves to laugh.
In “Life of Brian,” the Pythons did not mock Jesus. When he appears, it’s in the background, he only speaks scripture, and his portrayal is markedly respectful. Nothing else in the film is respectful—everything else is treated like a huge hilarity.
John Cleese said the reason they didn’t try to make Jesus funny is that they didn’t think he would have been funny. According to Cleese, he didn’t have an ego to bruise or be inflexible.
Yet Jesus was a complete and humble person. If he slipped on a banana peel and fell, he would have found it just as funny as anyone else. That’s because Jesus was self-forgetful. You can’t mock someone who gets the joke. So you can’t turn Jesus into a joke, because he’s not threatened by jokes.
Conservatives are similar in the sense that our principles actually help us see what is and isn’t funny. We don’t have to worry about the fluctuating woke checklist. So it isn’t didactic comedy that is really at issue, it’s the insane politics of leftism that are ruining comedy.
Read the whole thing.
While I was reading the post, I was reminded of a point that Jordan Peterson has made about another difference between the Left and the Right. As a society, we know when the Right goes too far. There’s a reasonably well defined limit associated with racism. (Which is interesting because a form racism now seems to be popping up on the Left.) Peterson notes that society does understand that the Left can go too far (i.e., the Killing Fields in Cambodia), but there doesn’t seem to be an understanding of what a corresponding limit on the Left should be.
There’s a joke about Progressives having to have double standards in order to have any at all. It’s funny because it teaches us something about human nature, but its lesson is incomplete. Wokeness has many more standards that only two, and they’re in competition with one another. And the upshot of that is often not really funny at all.