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Read this story on CNN.com today about the above SNL sketch and Obama and learned a new phrase: Comedy-Industrial Complex.
Cool. I don’t know if this is a new phrase or not, but I can tell you that it doesn’t have a Wikipedia entry, nor is it found in Urbandictionary.com.
However, I did find a chapter entitled “Showmen is Devoid of Politics: The Roots of Pseudo-Satire and the Rise of the Comedy-Industrial Complex” found in the 2008 book Strange Bedfellows: How Late-Night Comedy turns Democracy into a Joke by Russell Leslie Peterson. (It actually sounds interesting.)
Also, a Nov. 4, 2008 Slate.com article by Thomas Schaller wondered if an Obama win would be “The end of the satirical industrial complex?”
In the Slate.com article, the author wrote that
Bush’s rise to power this decade contributed significantly, if not primarily, to the emergence of what Stewart has called the “satirical industrial complex.” The complex’s roster includes Stewart and his late-night Comedy Central cohort Stephen Colbert; the “Saturday Night Live” troupe, which has experienced its own surge during the 2008 presidential race; and sundry other parodists and comedic agitators ranging from low-key Tom Tomorrow cartoonist Dan Perkins to Chris Rock, who recently quipped that President Bush has “fucked everything up so much, he’s even made it hard for a white man to become president.” (Pardon the language.)
And finally, the blog “How to Save the USA” defines the comedy-industrial complex as “obnoxious left wing comedians who turn politics into a joke.”
However you define it or understand it, the comedy-industrial complex seems to be a byproduct of one of the underlying biases of electronic media, particularly television (upon which I assume the comedians wield their power): Everything on television eventually becomes entertainment. 9/11 becomes a plot-line. Politics becomes a punch-line. Thank you Neil Postman.
It really doesn’t matter who is in power. With the country so divided, even if you make 50 percent of the people angry, you’ll make 50 percent happy.
How do you think Rush and Beck remain so popular? (And, yes, I’m placing them on the fringes of the comedy-industrial complex.) It’s the age-old Archie Bunker syndrome. Archie Bunker was a stereotype and created to mock traditional middle-class men. Half the people turned in to laugh at him … but the other half turned in because he was exactly like someone they knew, or said exactly the things they felt. In other words, he was both a rallying point and a punch line.
Thirty years later, I give you Rush.
Wow, sorry for the rant.
Anyway, new phrase: Comedy-Industrial Complex. I love it.
Use it three times in the next 24 hours and it will become a permanent part of your vocabulary.