Saturday, August 02, 2008


The world has become so weird that many are saying that it is close to impossible to satirise it. As Diogenes often likes to say, "satirists draw swords; fall on them".

People have asked me recently how I can possibly, as a "good Catholic" (good grief!) enjoy popular entertainment. It's appalling. Shocking. Degenerate. Blasphemous. Wicked.


I'm afraid my response has been the text equivalent of an indifferent shrug.

I have often thought that possibly one reason the awfulness of pop culture does not bother me is that we have gone so far now that it is impossible to be outraged. All the pan-sexual goings on now elicit merely a shrug. From me, little more than irritation at the willful stupidity.

Perhaps it is more difficult to shock me because of what I do for a living. Honestly, what's left to be shocked about? I used to get shocked by the stuff I wrote about, but that was years ago. I even got upset about it once in a while (I recall the day I discovered human/animal hybrids particularly). I used to write here about the phenomenon of "nice evil" that I discovered along the way. But it just doesn't seem like news now.

How much more evil can we do and not even notice that it is evil? How much more indifferent can we become?

I think there really are no limits, in fact. Not after the 20th century. So there really isn't much point in getting one's knickers in a twist over it.

I went to some event once at the University of Toronto. There was a discount at the door for students. I guess I don't look my age because the lady at the door said, "what faculty?" I replied without hesitation, "Human Evil Studies"...and she let me pass without a murmur.

It may also be because I was raised right down in the bottom of the cess pit of hippiedom when it was ascendant in the early 70s. I was surrounded by rather nasty womyn who insisted that only by "sharing" every thought, fantasy, day dream and nightmare could we graduate to being "real".

Aficionados of the movement, or people who were in it, will recall fondly the fashion for pseudo-psychological "workshops" in which we were encouraged to share our deepest longings, fears and resentments, normally against our parents. My mum came home weekly from dream workshops, primal scream "therapy" and Gestalt sessions in which she learned to talk about her feelings, mostly to me.

But that was not enough. The benefit had to be shared, naturally, and I was informed that I was not sufficiently "open" about my feelings. I was told all about "Games People Play" and badgered not to hold back. I should "let it all out" and share.

She had no idea.

All of this pop-psych wonderland was soon to merge with occultism to form the New Age movement. Whence we arrived at the the eternal wisdom, "I'm not religious, but I am spiritual." All of a sudden, everyone was dangling crystals over candles and asking the four directions to be freed of negative chakras.

After that, what's left to satirise?

But hey, who am I to put a damper on initiative? If you think you can do it, fire away.

Jeff, in his own way, agrees.

It is impossible to be irreverent when the world no longer believes in reverence. It is impossible to tell an “edgy” joke when the edge has moved before you finish telling it. It is impossible push the envelope when there are no boundaries that envelop. Our entertainment and humor is degenerating fast because there is no stable context for it. In fact, today’s humor is often forced to establish a context - usually a caricature consisting of a “repressed”, conservative, religious milieu that most people have never experienced - for some protagonist to violate. Increasingly, however, Political Correctness has taken the place of Christianity, and some of the new comedians apply their irreverence to PC dogma, although it changes so fast it’s hard to keep up with, forcing the violators to anticipate the next move and push the envelope still further. An obvious problem with this is that PC is itself a caricature of its host, Christian morality, and it is not uncommon for the two to overlap in places. What offends against PC, often enough, offends even more egregiously against its predecessor.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The Aristasians' 20 year old take on the subject:

- Karen