The fusion of politics, news and entertainment has given prominence to comics especially those such as Jimmy Kimmel, Stephen Colbert, Seth Meyers, John Oliver and Bill Maher who serve as attack dogs for the Democratic Party, which has joined forces with the establishment wing of the old Republican Party against Donald Trump and his supporters. By belittling Trump and his followers these comics feed the smug self-righteousness of the ruling establishment and their sense of moral and intellectual superiority. These comics and the networks that give them platforms – HBO, Comedy Central, TBS, ABC, CBS, NBC and even CNN which has hired comics such as W. Kamau Bell to host shows on the news network - have little to no effect on the political landscape. They are as loathed and ignored by Trump supporters as they are feted by Trump haters. They are constrained by the corporations and advertisers that employ them. They function as court jesters, never questioning the right of the rulers to rule or the terrible social injustices built into a rigged system. They traffic almost exclusively in negativity – searching out the weird, the bizarre, the stupid and the inane in celebrity culture or mainstream news reports. They perpetuate the fiction that we live in a democracy. They do not challenge the folly of permanent war from the Middle East to Ukraine. They do not call out the corporations that have deindustrialized the nation and abandoned and impoverished American workers. They serve as attack dogs for critics of the system, even if these critics come from the left. John Oliver, for example, devoted a show to mocking Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein. Bill Maher made public his $ 1 million donation to Barack Obama’s 2012 campaign. These comics traffic in a self-defeating cynicism that eschews all critiques of the real configurations of power. Power only laughs at its own jokes. And these are the jokes these mainstream comics tell. Joining me to discuss the transformation of comedy from an art form rooted in the counterculture to a one that has largely become a megaphone for power, is Lee Camp, who, like the comics of another era -- Lenny Bruce, Richard Pryor, Mort Sahl, Bill Hicks and George Carlin and a handful of his contemporaries including Jimmy Dore – is not afraid to use his razor-sharp wit against our real enemies.
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The Chris Hedges Report Podcast
Covering US foreign policy, economic realities, and civil liberties in American society.