Using Your Power for Good: Super Comedian

Posted on 27 December 2011

Comedy is a remarkably powerful tool for influencing public opinion. It can be used to raise people’s awareness; it can also be used to mock and belittle the disempowered. As they say in comic books: with great power comes great responsibility.

Those who have been bullied in their childhood do not always recognise that in their efforts to gain “justice”, they are merely putting the shoe on the other foot and become bullies themselves. Anyone in any sort of power who abuses that position by stripping another intellectually, emotionally, culturally, or physically of their humanity is a bully.

Someone bigger and stronger who pins someone smaller and weaker against a wall, putting them in physical distress, is a bully. Someone who holds high position within cultural mainstream, who then emotionally belittles someone who is vulnerable and not part of the mainstream, is a bully. Someone who has had benefit of an expensive education, who then mocks the sincere beliefs of those with less access to an education, is a bully. It is all right to disagree with another. Anytime someone invalidates another, we are entering into abuse.

For some reason of late comedy has been lauded when it is “dark and edgy” and “politically incorrect”. This quote from an article about the downward slide of Saturday Night Live reflects some of my concern about this material.

Disdain for “political correctness” is often positioned as a concern that some important truth is not being spoken for fear of offending someone. But that concern is nothing but smoke and mirrors. To invoke “political correctness” is really to be concerned about loss of power and privilege. It is about disappointment that some “ism” that was ingrained in our society, so much that citizens of privilege could express the bias through word and deed without fear of reprisal, has been shaken loose. Charging “political correctness” generally means this: “I am comfortable with my privilege. I don’t want to have to question it. I don’t want to have to think before I speak or act. I certainly don’t wish to inconvenience myself for the comfort of lesser people (whoever those people may be–women, people of color, people with disabilities, etc.)”
What Tami Said: Conservatives, “political correctness” and the incredibly offensive unfunniness of “Saturday Night Live”

I highly recommend reading the entire article. I believe at least a few comedians are good-hearted enough that with a little self-awareness, they may move away from their less savoury material.

Here is another quote worth considering by art historian Kenneth Clark.

We can destroy ourselves by cynicism and disillusion, just as effectively as by bombs
Kenneth Clark

Our culture is currently falling to bits. We are seeing more and more world financial crises. We are also facing more and greater natural disasters brought on by our own production of carbon emissions. These situations may seem to justify a position of cynicism and disillusion, but that creates apathy and self-fulfilling prophecies.

What we need is not a natural optimism, but a hard-won optimism. An optimism that says, “I know things are hard, but I WILL make things better. I WILL do what it takes to ensure the future is bright. And I have faith that I can.” Comedy is good at this sort of message. We aren’t looking for sugar-coated aphorisms that are clearly hollow. We want a genuine realism which accepts that with a public will and responsibility, we can make things better. Mohandas Ghandi and Martin Luther King Jr lived that sort of realism.

Use your power for good, people.

Peace and kindness,


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