Saturday, May 07, 2005

The New Realist -or- Tradition!

Political satire is alive and well, and The Daily Show with John Stewart would have you believe that they are leading the pack. Sometimes I wonder why it is allowed to be on the air - why would the US corporate media machine tolerate it and why would sponsors pay for it?

Usually I find myself watching the show and wondering -- where's the substance?

Is the Daily Show content really all that satirical or political? Is it anything close to radical detournement? When set alongside truly subversive texts like Paul Krassner's The Realist we can only answer, unequivocally, “No.”

The Realist was published as a magazine from 1958 to 1974, the content was so edgy it earned Krassner an extensive FBI file. Krassner reincarnated The Realist as a newsletter in 1985, with the final edition published in 2001. In its pages, Krassner interviewed folks from George Lincoln Rockwell (American Nazi Party) to Jerry Garcia (Dead Head and ice-cream flavor inspiration) covering a wide range of social and political topics. When you see the magazine, it's not suprising to hear that Krassner cut his journalistic teeth at Mad Magazine. In many ways, Krassner is reminiscent of the enigmatic underground comic book artist Robert Crumb (or, as he signed his artwork, R. Crumb).

Enter blogger Bachem Macuno and his brilliant I F----d Ann Coulter In the A--, hard (Warning: NSFW ). This work is sophomoric and offensive, to be sure. Yet this sort of in-your-face satire is refreshing, insofar as it shows that free speech still exists, at least in the blogosphere. Certainly Macuno's blog is offensive to a range of people, from conservatives to feminists. That, however, is what satire is all about. And given that Coulter is the essence of offensiveness (during her speech she suggested that "we oppress liberals" - it's moronic positions like this that led to the concept of the dictatorship of the proletariat), albeit state-sponsored offensiveness, this work plays an important role in counterbalancing the excesses of state authority, especially in light of the ongoing assult against public free speech in America. More about the unjust arrest of a UT student can be found here and here.

More on Krassner can be found here.
More on R. Crumb can be found here.

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