Whoever said art was dead had no god, no special powers, and no crystal ball–nor did he have an over-reaching intellect, because he could not foresee the future we live in now, where comedy has become the most relevant and powerful art form–more so than Hollywood or even Indie films, which cannot be said to be commenting on and affecting the body politic as effectively and in such a real-time fashion–more powerfully than any other form of creative expression.
Comedy, today, communicates and moves large numbers of the citizenry to political change by informing them without mincing words and worrying about some business or abstract and arcane dualistic agenda; comedians tell it like it is and are generally not bought off by corporations. They may have to tailor their message to a degree in order to conform to FCC regulations, but for the most part–with the advent of cable and online broadcasting–comedians can say virtually say whatever they wish.
Comedy, today, therefore is hyper-relevant–and not only happening only in expensive galleries and old museums–for profit and antiquity, fashion, or for mere entertainment; yes, comedy is born in talent, skill, and vison and it is expressed through a practiced craft (a collection of crafts, actually and multi-tasking observational and psychological, and journalistic skills), but comedy is not intended only for our amusement–though it amuses us wonderfully.
Comedy, today, is not shallow, as many other art forms are relegated to being minus a cultivated intellectual culture; it’s not simple decoration or intended for self-aggrandizing display; it’s certainly not for private journalistic creation in diary form. It is for the general public. It may be commercial, but it is above all, pure. In fact, it is my contention that comedy is the last refuge of free speech. It does not fall victim to over-liberalized or lying conservative political correctness, a force that is going down in history as possessing a greater dumbing-down effect on our society than that of prime-time television.
Indeed, comedians are at the forefront of the battle against PC militancy, saving intellectual discourse and nuance in communication.
Comedy is an art form that is a breathing social force built on truth, observation, and monologue that inspires dialog and thought about everything affecting individuals and society–everything that effects our nation–like Picaso’s Guernica affected the world or as agit prop in both the West and in the former Soviet & present Chinese and North Korean religious states of communism did and do–only, in American comedy, comedians are not lying.
This author is no communist, but permit me to use some terms that will show how powerful comedy has become, in order to make a point. Comedy has developed into a better source of inform-ation, news and social outreach on politics, big business, the environment, the growing police state, and foreign exceptionalism than our free press. In this way it has become a pillar of the movement of the masses and the proletariat (the poor, working, and middle classes)–against the evil, encroaching, careless, and destructive forces of capitalism that we have allowed through pathetic campaign finance laws to run our country and destroy equal representation, sensible banking, energy, environment, education, health, trade, and gun-control policy—as well as governance regulating the military industrial complex and foreign policy. Marx and Engels never saw this coming–nor did Ayn Rand–thank the Gods of Greece!
Comedy, in our era, is so powerful that governments around the world restrict its craftsmen, and comedy has answered the call of Jefferson, replacing–to some degree, journalism–as a necessary foundation requisite to the maintenance of democracy.
The reach of political comedy in our times (with a requisite nod to the internet and technology) is so effective, that very un-funny people have been all but forced to defend themselves against its penetration into their hypocrisy–such as we saw with George HW Bush and “W”, and as we observe regarding Fox News, today–to name only three examples.
Who was it that said art was dead? Was it Nietzsche? Well, let’s not go to hard on him. He was original, caring about his times, and creatively expressive & insightful. Actually, he had said God is dead. Well, maybe for him–and for those that abuse the gods, today.
Marcel Duchamp is actually the one that “Art is dead” is attributed to (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marcel_Duchamp), but he and Nietzsche lived in a time when men like today’s Republicans, some Democrats, and many businessmen & despots were actually in control. In contrast, and proving art is not dead, we live in a time when men like George Carlin, Bill Maher, Stephen Colbert, Jon Oliver, Jon Stewart, and–to some extent–Jim Jeffries, Louie CK, Chris Rock, Jerry Seinfeld, and even Rachel Madow, are showing with humor whom the would-be emperors are and why they have no clothes–and they are shining a spotlight on those who prove goodness is certainly alive as well as in politicians like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.
Art is very much alive, and has a punch line; the joke’s on the bad guys.