Huh

Moral and Comedic Anorexia

June 16, 2015

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I owe everything I know about British seaside resorts (such as the unfortunately named Blackpool) to three pseudo”€“kitchen sink movies and a single Squeeze song.

No wonder I can”€™t fathom why anyone would care to “€œholiday”€ amongst such grim, press-ganged gaiety. Not even at Margate, whose century-old Dreamland (oh dear…) fairground unswathes its $45 million face-lift any day now.

The new park offers up what sounds like a Tim Burton-esque cocktail of knowing, nudging nostalgia and glossy postmodernism. Which, come to think of it, are pretty much the same thing. All the better to appeal to today’s “€œseen-it-all (on my teeny phone screen)”€ punters.

But the owners are attempting a balancing act worthy of any sideshow: Said spoiled, sedentary, helmet-headed punters also demand”€”nay, require, as does The Law”€”thrills of a decidedly risk-free variety.

Some of Dreamland’s original rides have been “€œlovingly restored”€ by David Littleboys & Co. He told The Guardian:

People might think these old rides will be very tame. But they go like stink. And they rely on the riders having a degree of commonsense, which modern rides don”€™t require.

Ah, but of course.

“€œGenerations of know-it-alls remain willfully, ironically, almost comically blind to the mass conformity and ‘safety first’ small-mindedness they”€™re smugly soaking in right this minute.”

Generations of know-it-alls have convinced themselves and their charges that The Past”€”especially the supposedly demonic “€™50s“€”was an uptight, monochrome, brainwashed, fear-filled dystopia.

Yet they remain willfully, ironically, almost comically blind to the mass conformity and “€œsafety first”€ small-mindedness they”€™re smugly soaking in right this minute.

“€œAlmost comically”€ because the comical, as you”€™ve no doubt heard, is widely disapproved of.

The latest volley in the Comedy Wars of the Early 21st Century (duly chronicled lo these many years here at Takimag by yours truly and others, and in which my fellow Canadian, stand-up Guy Earle, stood in for the Archduke Ferdinand) was fired by Jerry Seinfeld.

I can”€™t add anything terribly original or perceptive to the deafening chorus of commentary already inspired by the veteran “€œclean”€ comedian’s quite uncharacteristic spleen-venting on ESPN:

I don’t play colleges, but I hear a lot of people tell me, “€œDon’t go near colleges. They’re so PC….”€ [Students] just want to use these words: “€œThat’s racist;”€ “€œThat’s sexist;”€ “€œThat’s prejudice.”€ They don”€™t even know what the f—- they”€™re talking about.

Well, except:

First, Chris Rock said the same thing to Frank Rich in New York magazine last year. The reaction? Squat all. Wow, maybe those damn millennials are right about this “€œwhite privilege”€ crap…

Second, even Jerry Seinfeld doesn”€™t quite get it. He singles out Louis C.K. for praise as a younger comic who “€œdoesn”€™t worry”€ about PC.

Except he does. And so does C.K.’s female counterpart, Amy Schumer. They”€™re the comedy Jesus and Mary to millennials because they”€™ve discovered that a dash or three of sriracha helps audiences of every political persuasion swallow what really amounts to the same old rotten, knee-jerk, “€œprogressive”€ worldview.

If you simply lard your gags with enough swearing, scatology, and sex, you can make them seem edgier than they really are. As I”€™ve said here before, every “€œshocking”€ C.K. (or now, Schumer) bit is really just an eat-your-kale Afterschool Special, but with swears.

Strip away the cursing and the cringeworthy blather about bodily functions, and this “€œbrilliant, daring, revolutionary”€ comedy is just “€œLouis learns that fat girls are human too”€ and “€œEleven ugly men (and one hot guy”€”I love you, Nick DiPaolo) debate how ugly some woman is“€”get it??!! #patriarchy!”€

(Yes, that’s the Judd Apatow formula, too. But at least Apatow the accidental moralist smuggles in surprisingly traditionalist messages: “€œSex isn”€™t a toy.”€ “€œKeep the baby.”€ The 40 Year-Old Virgin was sublime and ridiculous, while Knocked Up may have aborted as many abortions as the invention of the ultrasound.)

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