[CONTENT NOTE: ableist language; slut-shaming.]
I am an unrepentant, die-hard proponent of mockery in the political sphere. There is a reason witty dissidents, clever cartoonists and pseudonymous snarkers have historically been persecuted by powerful regimes, and that reason is that mockery is potent stuff. Humorous ridicule has long been an effective tool of subversion, and there are many masters of it in the 21st century United States. Jon Stewart and Andy Borowitz among others have made careers of it, and of course Stephen Colbert is a world-class mocker: consider his recent one-line zinger, “If we put a woman on the one-dollar bill, it’ll only be worth seventy-seven cents!” Hahaha.
But these are only our most famous mockers. Lest you miss out on some lesser-known, up-and-coming practitioners, allow me to offer this sampling for your infotainment:
- Top 10 Things to Say When You Meet a White Person. Indian Country Today Media Network. (“I learned all your people's ways in the Boy Scouts.”)
- Ladies who don’t use contraception have had it with you 99% that do, you dirty girls. Amanda Marcotte at Pandagon/Raw Story. (“Considering how few women don’t use contraception, they appear to have managed to get a quote from each and every one of them.”)
- Texas open carry advocates fume after ‘skanky topless libtards’ disrupt pro-gun rally. Scott Kaufman at Raw Story. (“Boobs for peace.”)
- How I Overcame My Soul-Crippling, Deep-South Addiction to Whiteness in 5 Steps. Alternet. (“In Mississippi, the drug of choice is racial superiority. But there are ways to kick the habit.”)
- Anything by Butch Pornstache (Melissa McEwan’s alter-ego). Shakesville. (“Not all men agree on anything, which is why we're always having arguments at the lodge when we're bored about whether we should all go shoot stuff or all go pee on stuff.)
To the extent that America’s Owners and their government servants are offended by our contemptuous disdain and sneering laughter, mockers are clearly on the right track and need to double down. Hard. That is why I am here to implore you—yes, you, Loyal Reader™—to get your mock on.
I get your reticence—I really do. I was raised to believe Nice People™ are above all of that, and that if you don’t have anything nice to say you don’t say anything at all something-something blah blah blah. A Nice Girl™ in particular would never criticize, much less dare to mock her “betters.” After all, they have only her best interests at heart! (CUE: uproarious laugh track.) Well, guess what? It turns out “nice” is overrated. “Good” is where it’s at. And when you consider that what we are mocking is a deadly and deeply unjust status quo...well, subverting it becomes nothing short of a patriotic duty.
Mocking is easy, once you get the hang of it. And opportunities for practice abound. Take the DSCC’s usual end-of-the-month IF YOU DON’T SEND US THREE DOLLARS BY MIDNIGHT WE’RE ALL DOOOOOOOMED!!!! missive:
From: firstname.lastname@example.org <email@example.com>
Subject: Iris, we’re begging
Date: July 31, 2014 4:03:01 PM EDT
To: Iris Vander Pluym
Iris -- Just about everyone on the planet is emailing you.
Well, no. Just a lot of inexplicably needy corporate Democrats.
It’s because the FEC deadline in 10 hours will decide President Obama’s future.
PRESIDENT OBAMA’S FUTURE?! OMG! And we only have ten hours to save the future of the most powerful man in the world? Quick—what are we waiting for!
Last night, John Boehner and the Tea Party chose to sue the President for the first time in history. Now you need to choose: Are you going to let them tear apart President Obama, or will you stand behind your President?
Somehow I doubt a President who goes to war without congressional approval and assassinates American citizens without due process is quaking in his boots at the thought of...a lawsuit? Filed by a bunch of clowns as a political stunt? Pretty sure he has, um, people to deal with that.
President Obama called this, “the most important moment you and I have faced yet.”
THE MOST IMPORTANT MOMENT! LIKE, EVAR, YOU GUYS!
We’re begging for your help -- otherwise, Boehner and the Tea Party win.
Truth be told, I do take a certain amount of petty satisfaction when people who have broken my heart come back begging. But with Democrats embarrassing themselves like this, I can barely even manage a raised eyebrow, let alone a haughty sneer.
Will you stand behind the President?
Why? So he can fart in my general direction? NO I DON’T THINK SO.
Pitch in $3 IMMEDIATELY >>
Or donate another amount.
Every dollar you give today will go to protect our Democratic Senate majority.
MY THREE DOLLARS WILL SAVE THE FREE WORLD!
See? I told you it was easy.
Ultimately, the key to successful mockery lies in punching up, never down, and this necessarily means avoiding splash damage to marginalized individuals and groups. Unfortunately, this is an all-too-common pitfall that anyone who dabbles in the dark art of mockery is bound to fall into, sooner or later. (And Stewart, Borowitz and Colbert are hardly exceptions.) Suffice it to say that mockery is often harder than it looks. As a rule it is necessary to tread carefully, and make every effort to ensure that one’s poisonous darts strike one’s target and no other. Remember: we must only use our mockery superpowers for good.
The blinking cursor is mightier than the sword! Or something like that.