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November 4, 2008

“This has been another edition of Simple Answers to Stupid Questions”
Posted by Patrick at 07:28 AM * 39 comments

The headline on this Salon story by Thomas Schaller reads:

The end of the satirical industrial complex?
For the past eight years, Jon Stewart, Tina Fey and other comedians have had us laughing through our tears. If Obama wins, will the laughter die?

First answer: Yes, if Obama wins, nothing foolish will happen in public life for the next four years. Right.

Second answer: No. This has been another edition of, etc., etc.

Third answer: As I’ve noted before, whoever writes Salon’s headlines and teasers has a nearly preternatural ability to find the angle on the story that’s most insulting to the reader’s intelligence. It’s a real talent. I just wish they were using it on some site I never want to read.

Not directly relevant to the above, I note that loading the story in question brought up an ad that instantly started playing loud brass-band music, even though I’m a signed-in Salon subscriber. Leaving aside the question of whether ads should ever start playing sound before the user clicks on them (simple answer to stupid questions: “no”), it’s unbelievably self-destructive for Salon to do this to their paying subscribers.

Comments on "This has been another edition of Simple Answers to Stupid Questions":
#1 ::: Sarah Brand ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2008, 08:15 AM:

If Obama wins, will the laughter die?

Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout;
But there is no joy in Mudville - McCain/Palin has struck out.

... Yeah, not seeing it.

#2 ::: Daniel Klein ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2008, 08:18 AM:

And in related news, will the vast Hovercraft industry go bankrupt when Obama teaches us to walk on water?

#3 ::: Jonathan Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2008, 08:21 AM:

I think there will be plenty of humor inherent in an Obama administration. Obama's focus and discipline can be taken to humorous extremes, Biden's foot-in-mouth disease will be an obvious target, and I'm sure there will be plenty of colorful characters who will emerge as bit players. After all, even Jimmy Carter had Billy Carter to contend with.

Here's hoping the Obama administration materializes; humor can wait until then.

#4 ::: Cat Meadors ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2008, 08:21 AM:

Well, irony's been dead for years. (Or was that ironing? I thought folks were looking awfully wrinkly lately...)

#5 ::: Tim Hall ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2008, 08:25 AM:

It's certainly seems to be true in Britain that political satire tends to flourish during periods of Conservative government - from That Was The Week That Was in the early 60s to Spitting Image in the 80s.

#6 ::: odaiwai ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2008, 08:27 AM:
If Obama wins, will the laughter die?

Jon Stewart said four years ago: "Please America, make my job hard."

#7 ::: Alison Scott ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2008, 08:49 AM:

Changes of government can cause satirists to really struggle, though. A lot of the alternative comedy industry was left rootless in 1997; they'd been taking potshots at the Tories for so long they didn't realise there was another way. It also affected political musicians. They all seem to have recovered their vitriol now though.

#8 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2008, 08:49 AM:

My hovercraft is full of eels.

#9 ::: Chryss ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2008, 09:10 AM:

I would like to point out that so far, there's no one on any of the comedy shows that can do a good impression of Obama. Granted, that affects neither Stewart nor Colbert, but there you go.

#10 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2008, 09:14 AM:

There was a comedian on NPR a while ago who said he was hoping Palin would be vice-president. His motto was "America second".

Seriously, if we get a good administration, there will be jokes, but I don't think the laughs will be as big. I can live with that.

#11 ::: Adam Lipkin ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2008, 09:17 AM:

Yup. I certainly remember those dark Clinton years, when first Phil Hartman and later Darell Hammond found themselves with no one to do impressions of.

#12 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2008, 09:36 AM:

There's always all the stupid stuff that most likely would continue under an Obama administration. Why should it be difficult for kinda-sorta left-leaning comedians to make fun of a center-right president?

#13 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2008, 09:37 AM:

Damned annoying noisy Salon pop-up ad. As a consequence of their actions, salon.com is no longer on my NoScript whitelist.

#14 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2008, 09:54 AM:

And it's not like the right wing contains no satirists, is it?

#15 ::: Michael ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2008, 10:11 AM:

A long, long time ago...
I can still remember
How that satire used to make me smile.
And I knew if McCain could win
That I could make those people grin
And, maybe, they'd be happy for a while.

But October made me shiver
With every bail-out they delivered
Bad news in my inbox;
I couldn't take one more shock.

I can't remember if I cringed--
His VP pick was quite unhinged
And something touched me deep inside
The day the satire died.

So bye-bye, Mister Maverick guy.
Tried to fear 'em, tried to smear 'em,
Turned out that was a lie.
And them Wasilla gals were drinkin' whiskey and rye
Singin', "this'll be the day that I die."
"this'll be the day that I die."

#16 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2008, 10:21 AM:
Leaving aside the question of whether ads should ever start playing sound before the user clicks on them (simple answer to stupid questions: “no”)
s/ad/webpage

Seriously, personal pet peeve majora grandé. Reason #1 why I loathe MySpace, even.

#17 ::: Darth Paradox ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2008, 10:43 AM:

I'm not so worried - the laughs may not be as big, but on the other hand it's not likely to be a "laugh so I don't cry" sort of situation.

I can live with that.

#18 ::: Dave Robinson ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2008, 10:54 AM:

I run Firefox with adblock and an anti-ad hosts file. Whenever I hit a webpage that starts making noise I didn't ask it to I reach for the close button.

#19 ::: Kelly McCullough ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2008, 11:15 AM:

Right there with you on Salon abusing its registered users of late. This is not making me happy to give them my money.

#20 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2008, 11:37 AM:

Actually, there probably will be a shakeout among political comedians. It's never been so easy to make fun of an administration. I deeply hope it never will be again.

Michael 8: My hovercraft is full of eels.

Tá m'árthach foluaineach lán d'eascainn.

#21 ::: odaiwai ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2008, 11:39 AM:
There's always all the stupid stuff that most likely would continue under an Obama administration. Why should it be difficult for kinda-sorta left-leaning comedians to make fun of a center-right president?

Not to mention continuing to make fun of the right-wing. I don't think Fox News, Bill O'Reilly, and Rush Limbaugh will all fade away on Wednesday.

Continual mocking of the "Vast Right Wing Conspiracy" will be essential until it becomes like the Sunday Sport (National Enquirer for all y'all Southern Canadians): The kind of news source you read for the salacious content, and then feel relieved that none of it is actually real.

Until your obnoxious relative/workmate feels guilty and slightly stupid about the latest chain email, meme, or flat out lie, that stuff will persist.

#22 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2008, 11:45 AM:

Maybe we'll stop having Reality scripted by Mel Brooks to something more subtle. Like Irwin Allen.

#23 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2008, 11:59 AM:

Speaking of salon headlines - the one that called Obama uppity' (back in the primaries before i even supported him) was the reason i cancelled my subscription. I still read Glenzilla via google reader (and occasionaly king kaufman during basketball season), but I hardly visit there site anymore.

#24 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2008, 12:07 PM:

Am I the only person here who keeps the sound turned off on the computer unless I'm deliberately trying to listen to something?

#25 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2008, 12:22 PM:

I think I'll bake a Schadenfreude Pie tomorrow.

S'pozin' I'm not hidin' under the bed or makin' hasty plans to move to the remaining free country on this continent, that is.

#26 ::: cleek ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2008, 12:23 PM:

maybe i'm biased (well, of course i am), but the Daily Show hasn't yet found a way to satirize Obama. they keep trying the "Messiah" thing, but since nobody but hardcore wingnuts buy that, it seems really weak. they had some fun with his 30 minute infomercial, but the funny bits weren't really about Obama.

i hope they don't fall back on the wingnut critique of him (messiah, over-promised hope, etc) for their jokes. i'd hate to have to stop watching ...

#27 ::: Tlönista ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2008, 12:24 PM:

Oh, Salon. I was driven away long ago by their continued employment of Cary Tennis.

Obama seems great now, but come the State of the Union address we'll all be muttering, "Not that windbag again," and watching the Daily Show recap instead. I hope. I really, really hope.

joann @24: Yes. If only there were more transcripts and less YouTube videos.

#28 ::: Nangleator ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2008, 12:25 PM:

Fodder for great comedy:

1. Outrage and hand-wringing as Obama gradually and methodically repairs the damage.
2. "Evidence" of his muslim/terrorist background discussed endlessly on Faux News and elsewhere.
3. Telefundies pointing out the inherent evil of his instituted programs.

and with any luck,

4. Ludicrous self-defense testimony from upcoming trials.

#29 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2008, 12:33 PM:

#24
No. (Didn't use to have speakers, either.)

Some sites at least ask if you want to hear the music.

#30 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2008, 12:54 PM:

Nangleator @28: and with any luck,

4. Ludicrous self-defense testimony from upcoming trials.

No. What do you think what Bush will do with his remaining time in office if Obama wins?

#31 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2008, 12:57 PM:

Obama actually can get some good ones in on himself, so I suspect there's hope for us all.

#32 ::: elfwreck ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2008, 01:14 PM:

I've been watching PunditKitchen pics, and noting that it seems to laugh *at* McCain and *with* Obama.

I would love a nice long stretch where the political jokes don't have an edge of hysteric fear behind them.

#33 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2008, 01:20 PM:

:18s/close/"consign to outer darkness, where there may be wailing, or even gnashing of teeth, but I don't have to hear it"/

This is an simple upgrade to my "I don't mind ads - I even click on them, sometimes. But if it flashes at me, it dies." philosophy.

#34 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2008, 02:50 PM:

Raphael #30: What do you think what Bush will do with his remaining time in office if Obama wins?

Oh, that's easy: start a war with Iran. That's by far the easiest way for a lame duck president to hose his successor.

#35 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2008, 04:16 PM:

Oh, that's easy: start a war with Iran. That's by far the easiest way for a lame duck president to hose his successor.

Do you think he wouldn't do that if McCain won?

Shrub is a spoiled child - if he wants a war, he'll try to start one. We can only hope that there are enough sane people in the military to slow things down so nothing can be started before the inaugeration. ("We just need a little more time to plan...")

#36 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2008, 04:23 PM:

Earl Cooley III @34, possible, allthough I was more thinking of a certain one of his domestic powers.

Ursula L @35, Shrub is a spoiled child - if he wants a war, he'll try to start one.

Doesn't necessarily mean he'll succeed, though- his Administration didn't bomb Iran yet, and I'm not sure that was because they didn't want to.

#37 ::: Hank Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2008, 04:37 PM:

> start playing sound before the user
> clicks on them

They're just demonstrating their total control.

You should install NoScript and set them as untrusted.

#38 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2008, 04:59 PM:

You get better punk rock under republican administrations.

Bad Religion, IMO, had the first good album since Bush I under Bush II. There may have been other things at work there, though.

I can live with worse punk rock, all things considered.

#39 ::: Megan ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2008, 06:33 PM:

I find the headlines on Slate even more insulting than the ones on Salon. The Slate headlines are often tenuously connected (at best) to the story.

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