February 26, 2013
In the otherwise forgettable movie Betsy’s Wedding, the chichi event planner swoons over a cake sample: “It’s so subtle you can’t even taste it!”
That line sprang to mind this week after CNN’s Christiane Amanpour wished Robert Mugabe a happy birthday on Twitter.
Amanpour’s response to the inevitable outbreak of confusion and outrage? She informed her detractors with an almost audible sigh that they had an “irony deficit” that rendered them unable to appreciate her brilliantly witty and supposedly obvious “scorn” for the African dictator.
And indeed, how could we have missed it? Her exact words”“Happy Birthday, President Mugabe””are fairly dripping with double, nay, triple entendre, no? Remember that time Marilyn Monroe sang to JFK because, as anyone could clearly see, she totally hated his guts?
It’s no secret that cable news is broken. Along with all its other problems, it has a severe problem with humor. Consider MSNBC’s recent round table discussion of “race jokes.”
This segment pissed off everyone, left and right, for all the wrong reasons:
“Can you imagine if Fox News had aired this?” “Race is no laughing matter!” “The host clearly hates white people!” “The host’s mother is white, dude!”
And the one I hate most:
“Those jokes weren’t even funny.”
It’s not that the jokes weren’t funny. It’s that they weren’t actually jokes.
OK, there was one. Even with a professional comedian on the panel, only the host, Melissa Harris-Perry, told a joke”a Jewish mother-in-law gag, no less.
The other panelists”well, the crew of the Pueblo looked more relaxed and certainly made their points more effectively. These MSNBC guests served up meandering word sequences without punch lines, all of which limply mocked”you’ll never guess”white men.
So much for those brave, iconoclastic, ever-so-clever progressives, who insist ad nauseam that on top of everything else, they’re funnier than conservatives, too.
A scant ten years ago, here’s what a televised “race joke” panel looked like. Note that the funniest, most outspoken participants are non-liberal white males. (PS: The show was quickly canceled.)
How we have fallen. Politically correct “comedy controversies” now occur with menstrual regularity. (Last week it was Lisa Lampanelli Tweeting the word “nigga”.)