I’m Glad You’re Offended

EDITORIAL

It is not the purpose of The Not Fake News to insult or belittle. We are not here to denigrate anyone. At most, we describe people in as accurate a manner as is practicable.

Recently, Patton Oswalt appears to have pissed of Breitbart with part of his comic bit, which they interpret as him calling anti-vax Trump supporters as “…backward, racist, sexist, homophobic dips**ts”. His response is that he literally said the exact opposite, and the truth of the matter is, I neither know nor care. I enjoy Patton’s work, but sometimes he’s a jerk just to be a jerk.

Which is perfectly fine.

The whole purpose of comedy, if it can be said to have a purpose, is not to insult so much as it is to present a new perspective, often in a shocking manner. Everything from silly cat pics to that funny story about how your young niece discovered how toilets work is only amusing because it introduces us to a new perspective on an old truth.

In the days when traveling salesmen went around in person to local grocery stores in order to interest them in new products, a big part of their stock in trade was the dirty joke — the raunchier the better. Rural shopkeepers are by nature a conservative sort, and persuading them to try new things is difficult. The joke, however, would give them an emotional jolt, causing a mental reset to take place, after which they would be more open to new ideas. It wasn’t a perfect method, but it was extremely effective.

These days, a lot of comedians tend to use their platform to express what they view as important truths; they view their platform as a position of social responsibility. That’s fine; we all have to do what we must to get through our day, and there’s not a ton of dignity in pratfalls and pies in the face. Besides, much as with the traveling salesman: It works.

So I figure if Patton isn’t lying, and he said the literal opposite, he described these folks as “They’re a bunch of progressive, forward-thinking, inclusive, sensitive… Very loving; no, seriously, maybe a bit too affectionate…”

Hm. What’s the literal opposite of “dip$hit”? Compound words are tough. “Raisefood?” Hrm…

“…Farmers, most of them. Salt of the Earth.” Farmers raise food, right?

But I digress.

The point is that comedy, like all other forms of art, relies for effective communication on shock value, just like the salesman’s dirty joke. Most people live inside their own skulls, building up walls of bias in order to protect their mindsets. It’s a survival skill, really; you don’t get much accomplished if all you do is sit around staring at the wonder of it all. (If we did, acid trips would be a lot more popular in the workplace than, say, cocaine or cold pills.) So we armor ourselves in our preconceptions, and it takes a serious jolt to get through them.

To be effective, all art must be upsetting. It must disturb our contented selves and break into our echo chambers.

So, yeah: Patton Oswalt offended people. I’m happy about that. Maybe they’ll finally get a damn shot and rejoin the human race.

(Incidentally: The recently-approved Novavax is old-school, unlike the Pfizer and Moderna shots. If you’re resisting because you don’t trust new tech, your wait is over. Just so’s you know.)


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