I’ve made it clear before that though I think that mockery and satire are a good and necessary thing, but only when applied upwards – by the relatively powerless to the powerful. Mockery by the strong of the weak is merely cruelty. Fred Clark gets this, completely. In this weeks installment of his deconstruction of the Dominionist Xtian apocalyptic wankfest Left Behind series, he posts on the Slacktivist blog, he sinks his teeth into a scene where the born-again protagonist wields his not-so-scathing wit at a woman who is not his boss. The mysogyny and stink of entitlement in the scene are palpable. Fred says:
Comedy is essentially revolutionary. This scene is counter-revolutionary. That’s never funny. Everything in these pages is about reasserting hierarchy and punishing anyone who challenges it. That’s never funny either.
Buck Williams isn’t the court jester, he’s the sycophantic court prophet. The court prophet isn’t funny. (Nor is he really a prophet.)
The jester is funny because he mocks the king. He deflates the over-inflated and humbles the proud. This is what comedy does. It’s what comedy is for. It brings down the powerful from their thrones and lifts up the lowly; it fills the hungry with good things and sends the rich away empty.
..That’s what makes it funny. That’s what makes us laugh.
Everything that Buck does in the Chicago bureau of Global Weekly is intended to tear down the lowly and lift the powerful onto their thrones, to fill the rich with good things and send the hungry away empty.