Sunday, October 19, 2008

Snark Overload

Last night I was talking on the phone with Peta and we were discussing how we feel like we've both reached our limit with all of the snarkiness around the election. I love humor, don't get me wrong. And I totally understand how humor can be cathartic and unifying in times of distress and anxiety. But I also feel like things have gotten to a point where, due to the instant availability of images, videos and blog posts, people who support Barrack Obama often seem like smug, snarky assholes. Now mind you, I am not saying they are. But after the umpteenth parody video and altered photo and clever song reworked to be about Sarah Palin, I start to actually wonder if there might be some harm done as a result.

Not everyone who is voting in this election is young. Not everyone is in their teens or twenties or even thirties or forties. There are people my Mom's age and older. And, while I am not at all trying to insult people of a certain age and saying they don't "get" certain kinds of humor, snarky/uber-sarcastic humor is definitely a generational thing. To a lot of people, a LOLCAT-esque picture of John McCain makes about as much sense as wearing a gorilla costume to Sunday mass. I am not advocating that people all get deadly serious and don't express themselves creatively and humorously around these issues, that's not it at all. But I do feel like there's so much sarcasm and so much satire that it kind of detracts from the very real and serious shit that is going on and will inevitably impact our lives. It's not going to be fucking funny if we end up in a country where Sarah Palin is a heartbeat away from being president and there's no amount of Tina Fey schtick that will make that any less scary.


At 10/19/2008 11:52 AM , Blogger anna said...

i would imagine that, in some cases, when people create funny videos or images they probably assume said video or image will make sense to their immediate circle of friends. even at this point i totally see people continuing to underestimate the power and scope of the internet. so perhaps the creator of the snark doesn't plan on having his/her mom or dad see it, dig? hence the in-jokey sarcasm.

i do also want to point out that snark and sarcasm are not age-specific. it is really easy to look at our peer group, or especially kids younger than us, and think we are all snark and style without substance. but i know folks older than me who are far more sarcastic than i will ever be. it definitely appears that folks with a certain amount of "liberal" education tend to use sarcasm as a conversational or written tool. i don't know how best to make my point without coming off a little like a snob. i think you might understand.

At 10/19/2008 1:03 PM , Blogger ohnochriso said...

I'm not saying that people plan to have their parents see whatever humorous thing they put out, but that doesn't change the fact that it's out there readily accessible to everyone. There's very little about the Internet that stays private or insular anymore.

As for the age thing, I see your point to an extent but I still think there's some relevance to what I said in terms of the way snarkiness has come more and more into the foreground in the last few years. And regardless of age, I think there's sometimes a perception that liberal folks are all sarcastic assholes who look down on everyone below them when they don't "get" their sense of humor. I think it can all get a bit alienating and off-putting at times and that is what worries me in terms of polarization.

At 10/19/2008 9:09 PM , Blogger anna said...

i think we're in agreement, honestly. folks in our age group make funny videos and LOL-mccain images, while older folks drop names from articles they've read in the nation and reference the "droll" comics in the new yorker. it's not a new phenomenon. it's merely aggravating and distressing now, since we feel we've got so fucking much riding on this election. and i think you and i (and perhaps your friend peta) find it more reprehensible because we're not bonafide members of the leisure class who will be okay no matter what happens come november 4th.


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