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The Power of Laughter: Rise of the Politics of Jeers.

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posted on Jul, 22 2012 @ 06:54 AM
I noticed the other day a little idea on youtube and which has apparently spread to Facebook.

Apparently, after people started taking note of the G4S theme "Securing your world" (via a video which, after garnering attention was subsequently removed although only to be replaced by other offerings) quite unsurprisingly considering the nature of British humour, many found it highly amusing with its vainglorious, scaremongering lyrics offered in an Americanised RAWK flavour. Measured next to the recent attention paid to the farcical £50m management skills of G4S, so laughable is this 'anthem' considered that to highlight the obscene gulf between the lyrical implication and the stark reality there are a number of people currently attempting to put this song into the number 1 chart position at the time of the Olympics. (This comes with a nod to what can only be described as the bewildering stupidity of a PR department thinking that it was a winning idea to represent a company looking to take over more public policing, and so should be trying to further the notion of its professionalism, through such a puerile appeal to emotion),

I've seen arguments offered against this idea; amongst others the suggestion that in a time of austerity honest, hard-earned money may go into the already healthily stocked coffers of G4S but I'm not here to advocate nor discourage the idea, merely to highlight something I see as a manifestation of a particularly British humour and question the power of humour as a tactic to dethrone or disempower those who would assume a position of authority through deceit and delicately crafted approaches which are designed to hide ideas which otherwise stand naked as absurdities.

A great example which comes to mind is from a British comedian popular in the UK during the 1980's, a chap named Kenny Everett. He had a comedy sketch show which spawned a number of regular characters but a large feature of the show was very brief sketches where he would walk into the cameras view, deliver a line or two, then walk off. It was one of theses which crops up as an example here. If I am correct there was sketch where he walked into view dressed as Hitler bedecked in full military regalia consisting of a spotless and immaculately pressed black uniform complete with silver decoration, medals, the only real speck of colour being the striking red armband powerfully contrasting against the midnight black of the uniform all of which was finished off with highly polished, knee length boots. He noted the camera, strode up to fill the screen before abandoning the hubris and visibly deflating then, with a camp air proceeding to ask the viewer, "Are these boots a bit much?".

It was a wonderfully poignant piece of comedy which, in six words, bit deep into the flank of propaganda in all its incarnations. It exposed the absurd hope and motivation behind this facet of propaganda and destroyed so completely the blustering claim to authority on which it stood that upon consideration the result could easily be viewed as a complete humiliation.

This then is the power that dwells within comedy.

Another example which in such considerations is never far from the front of the que is the very last episode of 'Blackadder Goes Forth' titled 'Goodbyee'. There were numerous scenes and individual lines in this series which wonderfully demonstrate the opportunity afforded comedy to strip heavily disguised absurdities of hyperbolic justifications and down to stark truths. Here's one example from Blackadder Goes Forth Episode 4: Private Plane

Melchett: Course I am. Now let's talk about something more jolly, shall we? Look, this is the amount of land we've recaptured since yesterday.

[Melchett and George move over to the map table.]

George : Oh, excellent.

Melchett: Erm, what is the actual scale of this map, Darling?

Darling: Erm, one-to-one, Sir.

Melchett: Come again?

Darling: Er, the map is actually life-size, Sir. It's superbly detailed. Look, look, there's a little worm.

Melchett: Oh, yes. So the actual amount of land retaken is?

[Darling whips out a tape measure amd measures the table.]

Darling: Excuse me, Sir. Seventeen square feet, Sir.

Melchett: Excellent. So you see, young Blackadder didn't die horribly in vain after all.

George: If he did die, Sir.

Darling: Tch!

Melchett: That's the spirit, George. If nothing else works, then a total pig-headed unwillingness to look facts in the face will see us through.

Then there is the final episode, 'Goodbyee'.

Blackadder Goes Forth: Themes

The final episode of this series, "Goodbyeee", although true to the series' usual comedy style through most of the preceding scenes is known for featuring a purely dramatic and extraordinarily poignant final scene, where the main characters (except General Melchett himself) are finally sent over the top. To the sound of a slow, minimal and downbeat piano version of the title theme, the four are seen in slow-motion, charging into the fog and smoke of no man's land, with gunfire and explosions all around, before the scene fades into footage of a sunny poppy field and the sound of birdsong. The fate of the four is left ambiguous. Blackadder's final line before the charge is also underpinned with an unusually reflective and poignant tone, offered after Baldrick claims to have one last cunning plan to save them from the impending doom, " Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman around here? ...Good luck, everyone. "

If I recall correctly some time ago I heard a radio broadcast where Ben Elton, one of the writers, spoke of his Grandfather who had fought in the war as being quite unhappy with the subject, believing there was an unpalatable flippancy to the show. Apparently after seeing the last episode his Grandfather again contacted Ben Elton but this time to say him how mistaken he was before and how proud he was now. An experience Ben recounted in a fashion which suggested it being one of the most touching and validating of his career.

Perhaps I just find it particularly appealing and is not as powerful as it appears when I consider it but even here on ATS which has some delightfully eloquent members who from a deeply informed position can relay their understanding with a grace which I daren't even hope to achieve. There is one who, off the cuff, could spotlight an argument in a manner which left me rolling with laughter only to consider his words later and be stunned at the insight required to understand a the topic so deeply and yet demonstrate so casually. He would enter a subject as if diving into the sea, swimming all the way to the bottom before returning to offer up a pearl from the hidden depths whereupon, oblivious to the effort required, all I did was point at the shiny thing. (Just one of the many enjoyable slaps about the face ATS has gifted me)

Many of you will be able to guess what reference I will make use of next because there is one example of the intellect behind a good comedic mind which keeps popping up on ATS over time and it's always a treat to see it being newly discovered. It is the speech given by Charlie Chaplin in 'The Great Dictator'. Here's a little background and perhaps an insight into how the kind of mind so apparently effortlessly and quickly sees through what others may not:

According to Jürgen Trimborn's biography of Nazi propaganda film-maker Leni Riefenstahl, both Chaplin and French film-maker René Clair viewed Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will together at a showing at the New York Museum of Modern Art. Film maker Luis Buñuel reports that Clair was utterly horrified by the effectiveness of the film, crying out that this should never be shown or the West was lost. Chaplin, on the other hand, laughed uproariously at the film. It provided many elements of The Great Dictator, and it was repeated viewings of Will that allowed Chaplin to so closely mimic Hitler's mannerisms. It is suspected Chaplin's decision to go ahead with making The Great Dictator was finalized by his viewing of Riefenstahl's film.

Here is the speech:


I'm sorry but I don't want to be an Emperor, that's not my business. I don't want to rule or conquer anyone, I should like to help everyone if possible; Jew, gentile, black man, white. We all want to help one another, human beings are like that. We all want to live by each other's happiness, not by each other's misery. We don't want to hate and despise one another. In this world there is room for everyone and the earth is rich and can provide for everyone.

The way of life can be free and beautiful but we have lost the way. Greed has poisoned men's souls - has barricaded the world with hate; has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed. We have developed speed but we have shut ourselves in: machinery that gives abundance has left us in want. Our knowledge has made us cynical, our cleverness hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little: More than machinery we need humanity; more than cleverness we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost.
The aeroplane and the radio have brought us closer together. The very nature of these inventions cries out for the goodness in men, cries out for universal brotherhood for the unity of us all. Even now my voice is reaching millions throughout the world, millions of despairing men, women and little children, victims of a system that makes men torture and imprison innocent people. To those who can hear me I say "Do not despair".
The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed, the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress: the hate of men will pass and dictators die and the power they took from the people, will return to the people and so long as men die liberty will never perish.
Soldiers - don't give yourselves to brutes, men who despise you and enslave you - who regiment your lives, tell you what to do, what to think and what to feel, who drill you, diet you, treat you as cattle, use you as cannon fodder.
Don't give yourselves to these unnatural men, machine men, with machine minds and machine hearts. You are not machines. You are not cattle. You are men. You have the love of humanity in your hearts. You don't hate - only the unloved hate, the unloved and the unnatural. Soldiers - don't fight for slavery, fight for liberty.
In the seventeenth chapter of Saint Luke it is written "the kingdom of God is within man" - not one man, nor a group of men - but in all men - in you. You the people have the power, the power to create machines, the power to create happiness.
You the people have the power to make life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure. Then in the name of democracy let's use that power - let us all unite. Let us fight for a new world, a decent world that will give men a chance to work, that will give you the future and old age and security. By the promise of these things, brutes have risen to power, but they lie. They do not fulfil their promise, they never will. Dictators free themselves but they enslave the people. Now let us fight to fulfil that promise. Let us fight to free the world, to do away with national barriers, to do away with greed, with hate and intolerance. Let us fight for a world of reason, a world where science and progress will lead to all men's happiness.
Soldiers: in the name of democracy, let us all unite!

Above are just a few examples of the ability which a good comedic mind possesses to not only make a point which hits the mark or expose to all the disguised truth behind an idea or the reality hidden behind a deceit but to do so in a way which we welcome, a way which human kind finds inherently attractive.

It was unmistakeable enough to see the public rejection of Nicolae Ceausescu through the boos and whistles which rang out. The only thing I can imagine more powerful, and which also comes with the benefit of being more joyful for all partaking, would be if the streets had echoed with laughter as the people saw through his words.

Is the warmth with which we wish to embrace comedy its most potent weapon? Is there any more powerful or more agreeable way to expose truth, offer a message or to open peoples eyes against a lie and yet whilst attempting to do so remain so widely accessible than comedy at its finest?


Incidentally, I penned this post yesterday and after the uploader of the G4S tune mentioned here initially posted:

An amusing little montage at yWD6_PrMNA0 and also, uploaded only yesterday, a 'Hey, look at teh good G4S doo!!1!' version over at sumutubelink. It seems you bad people are not letting this drop into obscurity as some might wish. Seeing as it appears unlikely the song is going to disappear then: Are you naughties eliciting a gentle astroturf response?
Tut, tut, tut. (Wags finger) I hope you naughties are all happy with yourselves!

in response to this action (getting the tune to number one) the latest, offered just before midday, seems to be

paul bevan

Party is over-G4S pulled the last available download (Amazon)
Buckles rock-star aspirations must have gotten too embarassing even for him lol.
So you people went and pulled the plug on the party?
You mean we actually SCARED you?
Hey,I heard some people doing a class version of 'G4S securing your world' on pub karaoke last night!

edit on 22/7/12 by JAK because: (no reason given)

posted on Jul, 22 2012 @ 07:17 AM
three words.

The Daily Show.

posted on Jul, 22 2012 @ 07:43 AM
reply to post by JAK

After rereading I succumbed to a chuckle.Some words I had to look's a classic

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