Thursday, July 17, 2008

An "Inside" Joke

Discussions throughout the netroots have focussed on the New Yorker magazine cover. The discussions reminded me of something I decided upon many, many years ago on the nature of "jokes."

People experience "jokes" from one of two perspectives: 1) inside and 2) outside. An "inside" joke is almost a redundancy: from the outside, it is not--it cannot be--a 'joke.'

This realization once led me to the following conclusion: There IS no such thing as an "outside" joke. To be one, a joke and its interpreters MUST be "inside," in a kind of hermeneutic relationship of mutually interpretable discursive practices. The "humor" of the joke--its 'Joke-ness'-- depends on a person's location in relation to the discourse in which the joke itself is constructed. That's what makes 'humor' so unpredictable. Look at Adam Sandler, fer chrissakes? Does ANYONE think Adam Sandler is funny? Really?

With regard to the problematic cover in question, I'd say this: In order to think the cartoon was not funny, on some level you'd have to believe the 'truths' implied in the half-truths which comprise the substance of the images, wouncha?

Therefore, it's probably funny if you do not take seriously the 'veiled' accusations, don't think Obama's any of those things; it's probably NOT 'funny' if you do...


BTW: I would have been very glad to have had Angela Davis in the White House in ANY capacity.


Ruth said...

It would be a hoot if there weren't constant references to the He's Secretly a Muslim Terrorist email actually popping up in comments I hear out here in the hinterlands.

Woody (Tokin Librul/Rogue Scholar /Helluvafella!) said...

Those folks weren't gonna vote for him anyway, ruta, mia!