Friday, October 15, 2004

On Team America and a Liberal Lack of Laughter

No, I haven't seen Team America World Police yet. Quite frankly, this isn't very high on my list of "to-do" things for the weekend.

Now, I'll admit that I'm not a rabid South Park fan. Cutout animation, even when Maya-generated, is not my thing. That being said, however, I do appreciate their wit (although I could do without the scatological crudeness) and their ways of skewering their targets with humor.

I think my favorite episode is the one called "Rainforest, Shmainforest." It's memorable not only because perpetual fatal-victim Kenny McCormick is alive at the end (although he does get a near-death experience), but the story kicks the environmental movement in the nards. It's not so much that environmentalism deserves to be a target, but that Trey Parker and Matt Stone go after conventional pop-liberal thinking about the environment. To Parker and Stone, the Cultural Left pay only lip-service to the issues of saving the rainforest; it's the Left's ignorance of the deeper issues that will lead to their downfall.

I had a look at some of the left-bloggers' reactions to Team America, as well as some of the reaction from And sure enough, they're upset that the Cultural Left gets such a hammering, even though it's the gung-ho attitude of the Right that's being satirized. They are, in the words of Queen Victoria, not amused.

It strikes me that this is one of the reasons why the Democratic Party may not be getting a landslide victory after the current presidential campaign: a great many of them are so bent on defeating George Bush that they're no longer able to laugh at themselves. John Kerry certainly tries -- when he asked a waiter to choose something on the menu for him, he was trying to lampoon his supposed reputation for indecisiveness -- but for the most part the Liberal mien cannot guffaw at its own goofs.

It's one of George Bush's virtues that he can acknowledge, and laugh at, his own failings. He is not ashamed of his B average. He acknowledges for the most part his hell-raiser past. He seems to revel in the belief of duncehood. This is a rare trait in a politician, since most prefer to think of themselves as leaders without feet of clay.

The thing is, the ability to laugh at ourselves is an acknowledgement that we are not perfect, that we can be better. It's something we all recognize on an unconscious level -- and something which Parker and Stone are forcing the Liberal Left to face.