When my bud Amy Biancolli called out Kathy Griffin for the severed head thing, she noted:
“I know my Jonathan Swift well enough to understand the creative and moral imperatives of political satire: To call out the horrors of a failed system with blackened, ridiculous overstatement. Swift challenged heartless British policies toward the starving with a ‘modest proposal’ to sell and cook Irish babies ‘in a fricassee, or a ragout’ — a ghastly piece of irony that he knew enough to publish anonymously.
“But the ghastliness was born of compassion. It didn’t target ACTUAL BABIES; it took aim instead at the ruthlessness of the system. Had Griffin taken a more Swiftian tack on Trump, his head would have stuck to his body and polished off a large plate of authentic-Mexican food.”
Interestingly, when David Larson, like Amy, working for a Hearst newspaper, proposed, with a nod to the great 18th century Irish satirist, “that San Francisco’s housing crisis be solved by dumping the elderly on the streets and letting nature take its course,” it received more than its fair share of backlash.
For the record, I found Griffin’s artistic statement, among other things, too unsubtle and strategically problematic. “See what kind of people you have on the left?!” Though it’s true that I’ve long ceased to think of Orangeism as a left-right, or even Republican-Democratic schism. It’s a whole different animal.
Swiftian satire is often difficult to pull off. Still, we do NEED some sort of humor. If someone “discovers” the meaning of the word ‘Covfefe’ in the Samoan language, this is not a “distraction” from the US withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement -my, that address was incredibly deceptive – or the bogus health care bill or the Russian involvement in our government. It is, rather, a coping mechanism.
(I was surprised that some folks did not know what covfefe was; Chuck Miller explains it.)
These continue to be a difficult time for some of us. I find joking with the folks at the CVS or to a nodding acquaintance on the street makes all of it just a little mote tolerable.