Just another cynical blog entry

rabble.ca's daily content is an astoundingly annoying item by a would be fiction writer, George Case, about how lefty comedy makes for bad politics.

rabble.ca’s daily content is an astoundingly annoying item by a would be fiction writer, George Case, about how lefty comedy makes for bad politics.

In it, Case argues that all these witty, lefty propagandists whose humour is laced at times with bitter irony, vitriol, sarcasm etc etc., actually mostly underline the desperation now plaguing progressives’ attempts to convey an effective message to a wider audience.

Part of me is glad George has crawled out from under a rock and has decided to have a go at communicating to Change-The-World™. We need fresh blood, rejuvenation and new spirits who don’t mind going at it all earnest and forthright like the rest of us did twenty years ago when all this neo-liberal corporate globalization crap started.

But most of me is agog that someone could, in all seriousness, suggest that progressive communicating is entirely about cynical, postmodern defeatist clever quips.

George needs to get on other peoples’ mailing lists, and not just lefty-injokes-L.

See, most progressive communication that I’m familiar with is exactly the sort of earnest, hand-wringing, or monotone yell accompanied by table-thumping, or dry, uninspired presentation of fact that he seems to think is lacking.

I’m glad there are some progressive people communicating using humour, pathos and irony. I find it refreshing and good for my morale. My friends send me Tom Tomorrow cartoons, I print them out and put them on my bulletin board and read them when I need a laugh or when I want to be reminded why I do what I do.

Will I show it to my dad to convince him that the world will not end with the Kyoto accord? No. I’ve got a dozen other leaflets, pamphlets, booklets and websites I can refer him to. They’ll do fine. But if I don’t convince him, I can go slink back to my bedroom, read my Michael Moore book and come back and try again tomorrow.

Are progressives desperate? Has there ever been a time when we weren’t? Between nuclear war, free trade, star wars, more free trade, various attacks on social programs, I can’t recall ever waking up in a world where I was thinking things were getting better.

And through it all, we’ve used a combination of earnest entreatment and humour to convince others and boost our own morale. Mostly earnest entreatment.

I think people turn to angry indignant humour because the situation inspires it and because they’ve been doing the straight-up “please read this” thing for so long to no apparent effect that they’re willing to try something different.

I don’t blame them for that. I appreciate the fact that there’s something to laugh at out there that isn’t banal sitcom and that we can find excitement and pathos in something other than the latest Reality TV horrorshow.

That Case can look at all of mainstream cinema, television and internet, and single out Michael Moore for degrading the level of public debate is an amazing demonstration of foot-shooting. CNN, Desperate Housewives, the Swan, the Whitehouse press studio, Stephen Harper – no one is more worthy of the mantle of debate degrader than the only person who’s been able to beat the media at their own game for progressive ends. George, oh mister aspiring author, are you jealous?

I won’t dispute the desperation I feel in the post-911 era. I won’t dispute the fact that I miss the days when unions could and would put half a million people on Parliament Hill to oppose free trade. But George doesn’t get what it is to be in struggle, and he doesn’t understand how movements communicate.