Culturalism

Please Laugh

The other day, a clip popped up on television advertising the Daily Show With Trevor Noah. Like most programs of the same ilk, it features a suit-wearing announcer who drops corny, unconvincing lines and weak attempts at 24k comedy. Nevertheless, people always seem to applaud and laugh without fail, almost like an example for the rest of us. Time to respond. Don’t be rude. This is hilarious.

But who actually believes that? I can harken back to Jon Stewart, a creature with great popular following for his regular antics of creating literal “fake news,” or making exaggerated facial expressions to address the realer variety. His audience (or at least the producers) always replied with epic guffaws and clapping, even as rational people wait and wonder: is this guy actually funny? The preloaded response says so, much as with David Letterman, Colbert, and the orange coconut guy. Sheer hilarity, even if we miss the punchline.

Perhaps it is all intended, however. The presence of laugh tracks and seal-clappers conveys an image of quality and wisdom, particularly with how these talking heads are increasingly shills for a single political party. I’m looking at you, Samantha Bee. In any case, the practice smarts of a corporations trying to inflate their quarterly returns by inventing customers, or buying “likes” to keep a message in their hands. As if they lack the creativity or draw to provide content anyone desires, and thus are forced to stage a set piece reality, hoping we continue to believe.

Seems like the plot is working, at least on certain swaths of the public. These shows still appear to generate a respectable number of viewers, and have yet to be canceled. Then again, is anyone sure those impressions are real? If they are willing to give instructions on how individuals are expected to react, simply creating fans out of thing air would hardly be a mountain to climb over. In fact, it feels altogether expected, like breathing or commuting to work. No conspiracy there.

The lingering query surrounds whether these methods will continue delivering in the future. Are Zoomers happily plugged in and willing to serve, or gradually slinking away to embrace clarity? I suppose time will tell, but at the same juncture, can we be sure of clocks or watches?

By God I hope so. Otherwise those alarms at 3:45 AM would be such a bloody waste.