Whenever political debates and controversies flare up in the news, I usually get lots of private messages from people. They are afraid to ask publicly, but want to know how to handle the situation with prosperity consciousness. Case in point, the debate over comedian Kevin Hart’s homophobic statements and jokes, whether he should host the Oscars, and then the backlash over the interview that Ellen DeGeneres conducted with him. Then SE Cupp had comedienne Judy Gold on her show, to interview her about the situation. (And the leaked audio of Louis CK and his new set.)
There’s a lot to unwrap here, and it gets a little complicated. But I’ll do my best to analyze all this from the context of prosperity consciousness.
I can tell you that some people were more than a little upset with my Christmas post, Make Bethlehem Great Again. Many asked me why I don’t just stick to prosperity content and leave politics out of it. I don’t think that’s possible. If we want to do the real work, it gets messy.
I do believe that satirical comedians need to get a different standard in an enlightened society. Joan Rivers once said that she would die before she would ever apologize for a joke. While I believe that willingness to apologize is a very prosperous habit to have, I can respect where Rivers was coming from.
Much like the free press protects democracy, I believe the free speech of controversial comedians protects us from some of the darkest impulses of human nature. Great humor and satire only works when there is an element of truth to it. Otherwise it wouldn’t be funny.
As a general rule, the more taboo a topic is, and the more outrage it causes, the better the odds are the humor is exposing something about society and ourselves, that we don’t want to own up to. (But certainly not always.) Like George Carlin and Lenny Bruce before them – there is no doubt in my mind that comedians like Kathy Griffin, Bill Maher, Chris Rock, Eddie Izzard and others helps move society towards enlightenment. They hold a mirror up to us, and sometimes cause us to not like what we see in ourselves.
Sometimes that causes us to attack them. And sometimes it causes us to change…
So I do believe if we truly want society to evolve, we have to give more leeway for humor. A perfect example of this was the recent SNL skit where Pete Davidson mocked Congressman Dan Crenshaw for his appearance. (Crenshaw lost an eye fighting in Afghanistan and wears an eye patch.) The joke was obviously over the line and abhorrent. But doing political satire on live TV, is working without a safety net. It isn’t always going to work. Sometimes it’s going to bomb, and sometimes it’s going to cross a line.
In this case it worked out wonderfully. The show had Crenshaw on the next week – Davidson did a sincere, heartfelt apology – and Crenshaw responded with true forgiveness and class. (Not to mention demonstrating enough brilliant comedic skills and timing that he should be added to the cast.)
Comedy can pull us forward, but it won’t always be an unrelenting forward path. We have to allow for the missteps.
So where do we draw the line? When is it pulling us forward, and when is it not?
I believe the criterion is human dignity. Every human on earth is entitled to dignity. We can't allow our comedy, satire or commentary to rob people of their dignity.
When people do stupid, evil shit – and people do stupid, evil shit all the time – as a society, we need to call them out on that behavior. And satire and humor is frequently an appropriate medium to do that. Where we cross the line, from the standpoint of prosperity consciousness, is when we attack the people, not their behaviors or ideas. Attacks against people for their physical appearance, their family, or disabilities, robs them of their human dignity.
That’s where I want to pick up on the next post. In the meantime, please share your thoughts below.