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Monty Python’s “The Meaning of Bush”

By W. David Jenkins III

 

“Any subject is subject to laughter…Humor is an almost psychological response to fear”

                                                          from Kurt Vonnegut’s “A Man Without a Country”

“And now for something completely different” – John Cleese

            Admit it. You laughed and you stood up and clapped or you thrust your fist in the air saying “yes!” while you watched that funeral. One by one, they came to the front of the church and unleashed upon the Boy King a most brutal verbal beating. People in that church and those watching on television rose to their feet in approval as the man who would be king was beaten to a pulp.

“Is he dead yet?”

“Well, he’s not dead but he’s not at all well.”

            Vonnegut’s words came back to me as I watched Coretta Scott King’s final gift to the people. Even after her death, her values and all she stood for were given new life through the words of those who new and loved her most. And those words proved powerful enough to draw blood from those in that same sanctuary who, by their actions, have shown that they are the antithesis to all that the Kings treasured. After five years of living in an atmosphere of deceit and fear, it felt good to laugh as people took turns pointing at the naked emperor.

 “You snotty-faced heap of parrot droppings! Your type really makes me puke, you vacuous, coffee-nosed, malodorous, pervert!!!”

“But I came here for an argument!”

“Oh, I’m sorry, but this is abuse.”

            Well, as much as the media tried to portray what was said at King’s funeral as abuse, nothing could’ve been further from the truth. Had the Boy King not spent the last five years proving his ineptitude and his distain for ordinary people – not to mention his annoying habit of lying his face off – then not only would Carter’s and the Reverend Lowery’s words not have struck so close to home, but there wouldn’t have been any reason to say them in the first place. George, it all boils down to staying away from places where you just don’t belong if you don’t want to hear the truth.

“Stupid git.”

            But the humor didn’t stop there. A few days later, we were informed that a shoe bomb hijacking in Los Angeles had been thwarted – four years ago. Now, while I’m listening to the details of this plot being described by the Grand Liar in Chief, I couldn’t help thinking about the Python spoof of Sam Peckinpaugh in their sketch titled “Salad Days” or “Scott of the Antarctic” where the focus is on spurting blood – in slow motion.

            Now I would assume that George and his handlers figured that Americans would either be scared yet relieved or bowing in thanks to the administration’s prowess after hearing of such a magnificent example of fighting terrorism. However, I kept expecting to see Graham Chapman appear from off camera dressed in a military uniform.

“Stop this! Stop this speech! It’s too silly!”

            Seriously, we’re supposed to believe that a re-enforced cockpit door would be blown away – with shoe bombs?

BOOM!

“Oh bloody hell!”

“Sergeant?”

“It’s…it’s my feet, sir. They seem to be missing, sir.”

            Has it dawned on any of these people how sadly comedic they’ve become? How are any of us, here or abroad, supposed to rally around such transparent ineptitude? Of course, I hear that about thirty five percent of the American public is still behind these bozos and the only logical explanation for this came from someone on SNL. They stated that the people who still backed the administration also believed that Adam and Eve rode dinosaurs on their way to church.

            But the final straw for me came last weekend. Some of you may remember the Monty Python Hunting Film where a small group of “sportsmen” emerge from a country villa randomly firing their rifles. The trumpet soundtrack is consistently interrupted by sporadic gunfire in every direction – except for the intended targets. Eventually, the film ends with the bloody and bandaged hunters returning to the villa with a small bird tied to a stick.

            I can’t help it and I hope there are enough Python fans out there that can identify with what I am trying to say.

When it becomes completely unavoidable to draw comparisons between the current leadership we suffer under and over the top satire that is almost forty years old, we have a serious problem. We are witnessing the systematic destruction of everything this country was supposed to stand for and there seems to be a sense of helplessness by many to do anything to stop the continuing damage. Consequently, in this most desperate of situations, humor becomes a sort of defense against the insanity which surrounds us.

            There have been so many crimes committed by this administration yet, they all seem to go unpunished. And the only thing worse than this inexcusable fact is the tragic comedy that passes for reasoning when administration members are confronted.

“Good God! You’ve tortured him to death!”

“He’s not dead….he’s resting!”

Or;

“Listen, you can’t spy on Americans without a court order.”

“Yes I can”

“No you can’t! In order to do it legally you need to obtain a court order. It can’t be considered legal if you’re just randomly fishing average Americans because you feel like it!”

“Can be.”

“No it can’t!”

            Like the classic Argument Clinic sketch, the frame of debate on any matter regarding the administration’s actions is more times than not, reduced to little else than contradiction. Even when they’ve been inundated with facts or constitutional law or simple common sense by those who attempt to oppose them or hold them accountable, the administration simply counters with “yes we can” or “no we didn’t” – and they get away with it.

            Back in the sixties, the resonant phrase was “the whole world is watching.” Now, almost forty years later, the phrase has been changed to “the whole world is laughing.” Granted, it would be nervous laughter we’re hearing, especially when considering the very serious consequences confronting all of us, but laughter all the same. But think about it; humor is the one weapon we have yet to use against these criminals. I don’t mean comedy skits on television or the clever videos we see on the internet.

We’ve arrived at the point where all one need do is say “Cheney” in a group of people and the snickering starts, which galls Cheney to no end. As Alessandra Stanley wrote in the week after Shootergate, “Mr. Cheney is accustomed to being feared and despised by his enemies and rivals; he is less used to being laughed at.” Ahh, the Achilles’ Heel. I think we’re onto something here.

Remember the look on George’s face when Democrats stood, laughed and applauded during the State of the Union speech regarding the failure of his social security initiative? It was, as the commercial says, priceless! It was an example of the same tactic used by conservatives as far back as the debacle of 2000. Even though the facts were on the side of the opposition, all the Bush defenders needed to do was sit and laugh and shake their heads in front of the cameras. And it worked every time. Maybe the opposition needs to start using that weapon for a change.

The Bush administration, by their own efforts, has gone so far down the road that they’ve been reduced to little more than a Monty Python sketch. They’ve turned Osama bin Laden into a modern day Mr. Neutron while Bush bombs the whole world and wonders if there are any figures that show how scared everyone is of our power. They have become a parody of themselves and the public needs to be made aware of it. Maybe, rather than yelling and distressing over why the public just doesn’t “get it,” the opposition needs to incorporate the same depreciating and disarming humor employed by conservatives.

Think about it. We already have the facts and the laws (at least for now) on our side. As Coretta Scott King’s funeral showed us, there are people out there who are more than willing to point and laugh at the naked emperor. Humor, when coupled with the truth, is the greatest weapon there is.

Groucho Marx once said that “humor is reason gone mad.” I would bet that describes many of us, so maybe we need to begin to employ our reason gone mad - before there is no reason left to laugh.

 

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