Joyce L. Arnold, Liberally Independent, Queer Talk, equality activist, writer.
Finding the humor, or creating it, is crucial in advocacy, not to mention in life in general. It’s not ignoring, avoiding or minimizing the deluge of serious stuff dumped on us daily. Rather, humor can be a way to focus on “issues,” take an energy-building break, or both. And Deity or Not-Deity knows, we need some laughs during another round of presidential politics, now played out under the “corporations are people” Citizens United world in which the 1% look down on the 99% with a “nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah” smirk of state sanctioned superiority.
From Yes! Magazine, by Sven Everlein:
Since long before Abbie Hoffman dropped dollar bills into the New York Stock Exchange—unleashing hilarity as Wall Street traders scurried to gather up cash—humor has been used as a potent political weapon. It can expose the absurdities and inequities of consumer society. It doesn’t need big bucks to be effective or contagious—Occupy has shown that creativity and imagination can be powerful enough to build a national movement.
That’s followed by several examples, including the story of Eric Hensal, owner of a “small, Silver Spring, Maryland, public relations company,” Murray Hill Inc. The morning the SOTU Citizens United decision was announced, Hensal initiated the “Murray Hill Incorporated is Running for Congress” campaign. From that website:
Until now, corporations only influenced politics with high-paid lobbyists and backroom deals. But today, thanks to an enlightened Supreme Court, corporations now have all the rights the founding fathers meant for us. It was their dream to build the best democracy money can buy.
The Yes! piece includes another example of humor related to Citizens United, from the Backbone Campaign, who staged a flash mob at a Target store in Seattle. “People are People” becomes “Target ain’t people, so why should it be / allowed to play around with our democracy?”
For more examples of humor in the face of (take that both ways) political / corporate legally sanctioned shenanigans, check out Attacking Oppression with Laughter, and Don’t Forget the Funny, an interview with Andy Bichlbaum, “one of the masterminds of the Yes Men.” A snippet:
(Interviewer): Does using fun … change the way the message is communicated?
(Bichlbaum): Definitely. If you’re angry about something, you rant. But pushing facts down people’s throats doesn’t work. Humor can really sideswipe this problem. It’s like there’s a wall between a person and if you make a joke, it’s a crack in the wall.
A crack in the wall. Given the barriers designed, built and maintained by and for Wall Street, Congress, the White House, the Supreme Court – and our election system, designed to prevent any serious challenges to those in two party power – we need lots of cracks. And Yes!, some of it comes by way of humor.
(Occupy Fun poster via Occupii)