Laughing at the enemy

During World War II, Hollywood started churning out cartoons poking fun at Hitler.  Here’s a great example from Warner Brothers with Bugs taking Hitler on, and Disney did the famous Der Fuehrer’s Face, starring Donald Duck.  The cartoons obviously weren’t intended to minimize the dangers America was facing.  They were produced at the height of the war, and people were not in avoidance mode.  Instead, they served to release the tension — to let them laugh at that which, with reason, they feared most.

Hollywood is apparently carrying on the grand tradition of laughing at the enemy, this time with a new show called Aliens in America from the CW network.  The premise is that a bullied American high school student in Middle America is saved by the arrival of a Pakistani Muslim exchange student, who is bullied even more than our American friend.  The New York Times likes it as a fresh twist on the old imaginary friend theme.  NPR likes it as a fresh twist on a stale TV season.  Clearly, this show is fresh.  And it may well be a charming and delightful take on the age old theme of the outcast high school student.

What I noticed, though, when I listened to the clip provided on NPR, as well as when I read the NYT’s review, was that, from the reviewers’ point of view, the comic targets are the Americans:  The family who is ignorant about the fact that Muslims don’t eat pork; the snotty high school girl who humiliates the well-mannered, articulate, nerdy Pakistani boy on his first day by being tactless enough to mention 9/11.

It’s entirely possible that those two scenes are completely unrepresentative of the show as a whole, which I haven’t yet seen.  It’s also true that there are millions of Muslims who are lovely, peace loving, pro-American, democratically oriented people.  And its certainly true that Pakistan is sort of, in a weird way, our nominal ally.  But I have to admit that the actual details of the show don’t interest me here.

What I do find interesting is the fact that the reviewers chose to highlight the “Americans are idiots” aspect of the show, irrespective of whether that aspect dominates the show or appears in only one or two jokes.  To these two reviewers, the best way to promote a comedy they think is worth watching is to highlight the idiot American jokes.  Presumably, then, the idiot American facet of Aliens in America represents what the reviewers fear most — and what they fear is us!

In the old days, in comedy looking at Americans and those arrayed against her, Hollywood sought to use humor to cut “the other” down to size.  Nowadays, in comedy looking at Americans and those who, by their own admission and sometimes in inadvertent comedic fashion, have arrayed themselves against the U.S., Hollywood seeks to cut Americans down to size.  In the leftist media view, we don’t actually have any Muslim enemies.  Instead, we’re simply paranoid, xenophobic loonies who hate everyone.  In a fraught world, to the Liberal elite, Americans are the enemy that needs to be defanged through silly comedy.

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  • rockdalian

    Whenever our so called cultural critics heap praise upon a movie or tv show I avoid them. My tastes run mostly to the opposite of what these effete self professed intellectuals adore.

    On a side note, the Taliban are inching their way to a takeover of Pakistan and the nukes in the country’s possession. If that were to happen then the Islamists will have their bombs.

  • http://baldheadedgeek.blogspot.com Bald-Headed Geek

    It really shouldn’t be a surprise. Hollyweird sneers down at the “rest of us”, viewing the vast majority of this nation as being filled with people who are (at best) simpletons and idiots, or alternatively, a collection of narrow-minded bigots. We are regarded with contempt, and the steady stream of anti-American propaganda churned out by the Hollywood machine is ample evidence of that fact.

    BHG

  • http://home.earthlink.net/~nooriginalthought/ Charles

    Book,

    you said:

    “In the old days, in comedy looking at Americans and those arrayed against her, Hollywood sought to use humor to cut “the other” down to size. ”

    I agree, but things haven’t really changed, except today to Hollywood and other leftist “elites” mainstream middle-class America is the “other.”

  • http://thoughtyoudneverask.blogspot.com/ Zabrina

    So true, so true! I am still awaiting an updated version of the old Spike Jones’ tune as “Bin Laden’s Face.” Still nothing at YouTube. But I’m not holding my breath. Nor do I expect to see a whole lot of Bin Laden masks this Halloween. That anybody would feel that kind of thing would constitute a slur against Muslims IS a slur against Muslims. But I suppose that’s too much circular reasoning for most people to understand. Easier to wear a Bush mask and get the cheap laugh.

    America’s biggest enemy is our own lack of education.

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