You Just Can’t Make This Stuff Up
I think one of the symptoms a country going mad is that it becomes difficult to discern real events from a satire of them. Comedians who write satire for a living are constantly being challenged to stay on top of things, but as Shakespeare is rumored to have said: “This shit writes itself.” Lewis Black says that reality and satire have somehow intersected. Let’s examine a few stories from the past year.
A Walmart in Florence, Alabama was so clueless they were selling “Gun Oil,” a popular lubricant for gay men, in their gun department.
Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) is a Christian Scientist who doesn’t believe in science. He is the Chairman of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee. It isn’t just him, either. Sen. James “Mountain” Inhofe (R-OK), chairs the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. He’s also the author of The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future (2012). Here’s another: Rep. John Shimkus is Chair of the House Subcommittee on Environment and Economy. He says we don’t have to worry about rising sea levels because in the Bible God promised Adam there would be no more floods.
Nov. 10, 2016 — Two Slovakian brothers have won the Central European Grave Digging Championships. Contestants are allowed picks and shovels, and must dig a grave 5 ft. deep, 6 ½ ft. long, and 3 ft. wide. The competition was part of the International Exhibition of Funeral, Burial, and Cremation Services.
We’re all aware of Donald Trump’s aversion to truth. Politifact rated 71% of his campaign statements false. On Oct. 28th, Trump Campaign CEO Steve Bannon was loading one of Trump’s speeches into a teleprompter, when one of the hot lights nearby caught his pants on fire! Could one possibly ask for a better metaphor than that? It’s a masterpiece of irony.
Last January, someone spray-painted a swastika on Donald Trump’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The police couldn’t figure out if it was done by a supporter or protester. Think of that — how would you know?
Republicans can be relied upon for their hysterics about voter fraud, pretty much a nonexistent phenomenon. But this year they added another voter fraud problem — dead people. I would expect the voter turnout in this demographic to be very low, but then I don’t think like a Republican. Trump claimed there were 1.8 million dead people on the voter roles, but of course the chance of that being false is 71%, isn’t it? Rudy Giuliani even made the statement that “Dead people generally vote for Democrats rather than Republicans.”
On Nov. 5th, only days before the election, Melania Trump said if she were to become the First Lady, one of her main causes will be cyber-bullying. Perhaps she can start with some of her husband’s tweets. Exhibit A, Your Honor!
In a 2012 Republican Presidential debate, then Texas Governor Rick Perry tried to name the three government agencies he would abolish: “Education, Commerce . . . and, uh, sorry, I can’t. Oops.” Oops indeed. It was Energy. He never was one of the brighter bulbs on the tree, speaking of energy, and wearing glasses only made him look smarter. But guess who Trump just nominated to head the Energy Dept.? I wonder if he knows their main responsibility is to monitor the nation’s nuclear weapons arsenal. Oops.
Trump seems to have a fox to guard every government agency henhouse. For Secretary of State he’s nominated Rex Tillerson, CEO of Exxon-Mobil. Like Trump, he has no experience in public service, and like Trump, he’s very popular with Vladimir Putin. Putin even awarded him Russia’s most prestigious award for foreigners, the Order of Friendship. And Rex has lots of oil production in Russia which has been held up by those economic sanctions since Putin seized Crimea. Do you see now why comedians are having trouble keeping up?
Last year the U.K.’s Daily Mail reported that ISIS opened two new amusement parks, in Raqqa, Syria, and Fallujah, Iraq. Their purpose was to celebrate the Muslim holiday of Eid Al-Adha. Photos show an empty ferris wheel and a miniature train full of children (I would have to assume the destination is the 9th Century). Outside of that the place looks like a ghost town. All in all, a lame attempt to portray the apparent normalcy of radical jihadism.
The latest in a never-ending line of Star Wars movies is “Rogue One,” which just opened, and has already controversial. Trump supporters heard on some fake news site that some anti-Trump scenes were added, so they’re boycotting the movie (without having seen it). Of course, the Galactic Empire is basically a white nationalist fascist state, so I can understand their defensiveness. Last month, after members of the hit Broadway musical “Hamilton” addressed VP-elect Mike Pence after a performance with a very positive, inclusive message, Trump supporters immediately announced they were boycotting the show — which is sold out through September 2017. The “Rogue One” boycott hasn’t made a dent in box office receipts, either. See, there’s this thing called the dark force, and — oh, never mind.
Your smartphone has had a long day, processing your commands and desires. And it’s had your face in its face the whole time. Doesn’t it deserve a relaxing place for its downtime? Now there’s the Phone Bed by Thrive Global, a subsidiary of the Arianna Huffington empire dedicated to “well-being.” It has a simple head and footboard, a little cover to put over your phones, and charging ports for up to eight devices. And there are handy little velvet covered compartments underneath to store your iPad or tablet. It costs $100. As has been said, there’s a sucker born every minute.
Along those lines, in 1975 Gary Dahl invented the Pet Rock, and marketed them at $4 each. The fad only lasted about six months, but in that time he sold 1.5 million and became a millionaire. This holiday season Nordstrom has brought forth a leather-covered rock for $85. The leather was saddle-stitched so that the whole assembly looked like a potato in a leather diaper. A “small” version retails for $65. Last time I checked, they were sold out.
On Oct. 21 the United Nations named Wonder Woman an “ambassador for empowering girls and women,” which drew an instant and angry backlash even among staffers, many of whom stood and turned their backs as the announcement was made. They began a petition which quickly gained 45,000 votes. It said in part that the selection of “a large breasted white woman of impossible proportions, scantily clad in a shimmery, thigh-baring bodysuit with an American flag, was culturally insensitive.” But tell us what you really think.99 On Dec. 16th the UN announced they were discontinuing the campaign.
From time to time I see an article somewhere about how Gary Trudeau, creator of the cartoon strip “Doonesbury,” or the TV show “The Simpsons” predicted the presidency of Donald Trump. Trump had been flirting with the idea since the late 1980s. He’d given a more serious thought to it and began to form an exploratory committee in 1999. Trudeau’s strip of Trump as candidate appeared on Nov. 14th, 1999, and the “Simpsons” episode came out on March 19th, 2000. It was called “Bart to the Future” and featured Lisa as the first woman President, having to clean up the economic mess created by the previous President, Trump. I bring all this up to prove that even in these two brilliant satires the artists at least had a reference point. Still, Donald Trump — President of the United States. You just can’t make this stuff up! We have somehow become trapped in some hostile parallel dimension.