"…the fury and the momentum of the proudly ill-informed is problematic."
September 11, 2021 7:10 AM Subscribe
After 9/11, Marc Maron’s Friends Started Choosing Sides – in which Maron connects the rise of so-called anti-woke comedy to the political polarization that emerged in the stand-up comedy scene in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks
It really becomes “This is not the time to be critical of U.S. policy,” or locking into “This is chickens-coming-home-to-roost” thinking: “This is the time that we have to drive some trucks into Queens and break up these mosques.” So that was where it was. There was no real middle; finding the middle happened over time. The take was, “There’s no good Arabs.”
So what you’re seeing now is there’s an audience that has been built up around the current momentum of comedy that isn’t fundamentally a comedy audience. It’s more of a team loyalty thing, and they have their own audience. So what you’re seeing is that there’s an insulated crew of comics that are all about “Fuck you, pussies.” I can’t simplify it, but there are people that are going to be, as we move forward, unaffected by pushback, because they’ve got their people. So then what happens to the dialogue of stand-up that’s supposed to kind of straddle these two worlds and move through the middle to kind of balance out that thing? I don’t know.
It’s also so easily co-opted by right-wing politics. Whatever they think they’re doing — or if they think they’re non-political — they’re definitely carrying water for a kind of creepy and destructive momentum, and I think that what gets pushed back is the same thing that gets pushed back historically, which is the voice of the marginalized. So the more that proper show business diversifies out of necessity from righteous pushback — and also is willing to engage in unique voices to more fully represent what this country really is — then that is a bulwark against that at all times; it seeks a new status quo that will be the dominant cultural language, but how is it anything but sort of … I don’t want to label it in a lazy way. I’m wary to say “right-wing,” I’m wary to say “fascist,” but you’re moving through this sort of hyper-masculine, aggressive, false pursuit of freedom to say things that are clearly hurtful and dubious about people who can’t really culturally defend themselves with the same weight.
So what is that? I guess it’s sort of a bully situation. I’ve become convinced that the voices of the oppressed and the marginalized becoming more prominent to force the hand of apathetic people into a more empathetic position is the only way we’re going to save this fucking country. And it’s a fairly new realization, so I don’t know when comedy starts to speak to that. It’s just that the fury and the momentum of the proudly ill-informed is problematic.