I generally avoid Netflix, Disney, and so on. There's very little to watch outside of the classics that's actually worth the time, and I've gotten back to spending more time reading. Nevertheless, with the holidays, and spending time with family and Christmas parties in a purple zone, I got more than a little exposure to what is currently popular or "funny."
Yes, I know, libs have no real sense humor.
The problem is that they think they have one.
Yes, I also know a lot of words have been written to that effect, but I realized something else, tangental, but related.
It's all petty.
Not just the humor, the people themselves. The whole nine yards.
I'd remarked to friends over the last month that some of the behavior I was observing was simply incredibly petty. For example: running across "Trump 2020" scrawled in teh packed sand on the beach in letters 2-3 feet high - and seeing the trails of footprints divert explictly to kick and drag their feet through it.
Even the humor they listen to, such as it is, pretends to offer something that shocks them, but stays safe, predictable, and petty. I'll forego the usual complaints about small-minded liars like Colbert and go a bit further afield into what still resembles regular standup and comedy sketches with John Mulaney and his special "John Mulaney & the Sack Lunch Bunch", as well as what I was exposed to of Ronny Chieng's "Asian Comedian Destroys America."
A good chunk of this is secondhand, but keep in mind that what I relate wasn't related in breathless Breitbart "can you believe they did that awful thing!" hyperbole but instead was bragged about and praised.
From Rolling Stone:
Riffing on sincere Seventies’ kids shows like Sesame Street or the Maurice Sendak/Carole King special Really Rosie, The Sack Lunch Bunch finds the 37-year-old Mulaney — who admits early on that he doesn’t have children of his own and doesn’t really want them — playing mentor to a group of kids in a neighborhood garden. The special kicks off (after a Real Housewives of Beverly Hills quote, because of course it does) with a member of the Bunch going on at length about his fear of drowning. (“Actually, I’m afraid of death,” he explains, “but of all the ways to die, I don’t want to drown.”) The show is peppered with similar endearingly vulnerable thoughts from both the kids and special guests like Natasha Lyonne.
If the entirety of the show is like the bit I caught, most of those thoughts are dark and somewhat creepy. The entirety of it mocks the sincerity of the shows it parodies even as it is called "loving", even if that was a veneer over reality, and a part I didn't catch but was told about as if it was the funniest thing in the world involved a fake book review of a story where a kid discovers his dad is a bad drag queen - and puts him down for how awful he was. Oh, sure, he put in something Christians and normies don't like, but can anyone honestly say that he subverted expectations? At least the joke at the center of "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" has a degree of innocence to it.
I'd long ago decided I couldn't stand Mulaney. He revels in self-abasement. But this deserves no more than a "fuck you."
Chieng is no better, if less creepy. In line with the title of his special, he starts off putting down America with every predictable trope a true follower of Zinn would clap along to. As bitter as you'd expect from a Daily Show writer, he completely misses or misrepresents the point of Thanksgiving. The real hypocrisy starts when he goes into the "Asians will get things done without bias or skin in the game". Yes, the latter was a racial reference since he had been discussing race relations, and yes, he completely ignored that getting things done the asian way could involve killing off people by the tens of millions, even as he'd previously mentioned why other asian countries still hate the Japanese.
While pretending to be an honest and unbiased arbiter of truth he also forgot the way blacks treat asians, while praising blacks for owning their own epithet, and telling the dirty little "truth" that Bohemian Rhapsody sucks. And of course he blamed whites for calling the police on blacks for "just" barbecuing, and referenced the guys in Starbucks who wanted to use the bathroom - while misrepresenting them as having bought coffee, as them being non-customers was the reason they were refused the bathroom codes in the first place. Of course I couldn't predict specifically that he'd go after Rhapsody - Freddie Mercury wasn't precisely straight or white - but I knew when he promised to tell an uncomfortable truth about race issues it was going to be some "surprising" bash of white americans or things they like. And that it would neither be true, nor uncomfortable to the audience of NPCs.
But what do you expect of a writer for the daily show, or the toxic little refutation of ancestral culture disguised as a celebration of it in Crazy Rich Asians? Certainly not speaking actual truth to power.
What did shock me was the degree to which this venal, petty, shallow, small minded smugness appealed to people about me. And when I'd demurr to comment, or didn't think it was the greatest thing ever, I'd get asked why I couldn't get/take a joke.
It's the same joke, over and over, with variations. White people are stupid, hurrrr.
No wonder he's bitter. He wants to be funny so bad. And people laugh. But I'm sure deep down he knows he's a hack, and he couldn't get people who disagree with him to laugh over an actual shared human experience.