Mocking the king, not the subjects

I’ve made it clear before that though I think that mockery and satire are a good and necessary thing, but only when applied upwards – by the relatively powerless to the powerful. Mockery by the strong of the weak is merely cruelty. Fred Clark gets this, completely. In this weeks installment of his deconstruction of the Dominionist Xtian apocalyptic wankfest Left Behind series, he posts on the Slacktivist blog, he sinks his teeth into a scene where the born-again protagonist wields his not-so-scathing wit at a woman who is not his boss. The mysogyny and stink of entitlement in the scene are palpable. Fred says:

Comedy is essentially revolutionary. This scene is counter-revolutionary. That’s never funny. Everything in these pages is about reasserting hierarchy and punishing anyone who challenges it. That’s never funny either.

Buck Williams isn’t the court jester, he’s the sycophantic court prophet. The court prophet isn’t funny. (Nor is he really a prophet.)

The jester is funny because he mocks the king. He deflates the over-inflated and humbles the proud. This is what comedy does. It’s what comedy is for. It brings down the powerful from their thrones and lifts up the lowly; it fills the hungry with good things and sends the rich away empty.

..That’s what makes it funny. That’s what makes us laugh.

Everything that Buck does in the Chicago bureau of Global Weekly is intended to tear down the lowly and lift the powerful onto their thrones, to fill the rich with good things and send the hungry away empty.

That’s not funny. That’s the opposite of funny.

Cullenism – every generation gets the religion it deserves?

Now I’m hardly one to complain about people drawing on fiction as a basis for their spirituality. But…

A cult of devotees has sprung up based on the teen-vampire-porn-without-the-sex Twilight books.

Blogger (and fan of the series) Amanda Bell writes:

These Cullenists believe “[j]ust like any other religion,” that there is some spirituality to be had in the Twilight series, forming rules and principles upon which to base their tenets. Their creed, say the Cullenists, includes a base set of beliefs that “Edward and the rest of the Twilight characters are real,” that “[t]he Twilight series should be worshipped,” and that “[i]f you are good in life, you will be bless[ed] with eternity with the Cullens.” Other than that, say the Cullenists, there “is not a limit to what you can believe in when it comes to the Cullenism religion . . . we will accept any other Cullenism beliefs you may have.” Cullenists are also expected to read some of the books on a daily basis, “like the Bible” and make a pilgrimage to Forks.

She also gently observes:

While religion and spirituality are a first-hand and very personal experience, and others who formulate their own principles and guidance to help them maneuver through and stay afloat in this challenging, frustrating, and sometimes depressing thing we call life are often praised for their individualism and bravery, the Cullenists might be stretching it a little.

I think the key thing here is not that these people work with fiction in search of meaning – it’s that they insist their mythos is real. That whole it’s-just-a-metaphor thing eludes them. Just like any religion, of course.

And for Valen’s sake, couldn’t they at least draw on a less shite mythos?

(The original post which the above quotes draw on is here, with an update after their fandom went into inevitable meltdown here. The latter would indicate the characters are possibly being used more as Loa than full-blown deities, which could work… but without looking harder on the now-closed forum, it’s hard to tell. I suspect this one could run and run…)