THE SEMINOLE NEWSPAPER

LAUGHING IN THE AGE OF TRUMP

For+many%2C+comedy+is+the+only+way+to+survive+the+Trump+presidency.
For many, comedy is the only way to survive the Trump presidency.

For many, comedy is the only way to survive the Trump presidency.

For many, comedy is the only way to survive the Trump presidency.

Malavika Kannan, Junior Editor-in-Chief

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There’s nothing quite like laughing in the face of doom, and this has never been truer than in the first months of the Trump presidency.

Despite the frustration felt by 70 percent of Americans about today’s political situation, many have still managed to find a silver lining in an unlikely place. From wildly popular Saturday Night Live skits and the proliferation of memes on social media to the shows hosted by John Oliver and Samantha Bee, comedy has become the refuge of many young liberals today.

“Politics have been a source of humor since time immemorial and will continue to be forever,” said former student Shruti Labh. “It’s human instinct.”

The trend of humor in the age of Trump reveals a great deal about our values and identities as a generation, for better or for worse. Perhaps part of it stems from the general attitudes of young liberals: a passion for self-invention, and an inherent cynicism towards the establishment. These characteristics make humor a refreshing and intellectual way to interpret the changes around us.

Such an adversarial yet creative approach to self-expression has seemingly led to a liberal “monopoly” on comedy; many have noted that while left-wing comedians like Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert have been extremely successful, their Republican counterparts lack the same momentum. This inequity of humor, as it were, may also be attributed to the fundamental characteristics of young liberals. As the party for the people, inevitably pitted against the powerful, it is easy to take swings at the establishment. Conversely, attempts at right-wing humor may often be misconstrued as insensitive or prejudicial by opponents, if not downright unpatriotic by their fellows. In other words, it’s only cool to make fun if you’re the underdog; nobody likes a belittling winner.

And nowhere has this been more apparent than in the fate of our controversial President Trump. Donald Trump has provided a common enemy for the satirists, talk show hosts, and memers alike to rise up against in a great crusade of comedy. From John Oliver’s famous monologue about Donald Trum” to his SNL impersonator Alec Baldwin, young liberals owe many laughs to Trump. Certainly this stems from how easy he is to laugh at— with endless scandals, bizarre tweets, and gaffes, he’s a dream come true for jesters looking for an easy target.

“Since Trump gained serious traction as a candidate and then became president, many events comedians considered as hilariously impossible are now becoming real possibilities,” suggested Labh.

However, some argue that Trump, apart from being comedic fodder, has inspired an unwanted new reaction in young liberals. Ultimately, the sense of fatalist humor he’s caused is generally alarming. Because while comedy and the media have long since been a way to express concerns, it’s becoming a haven and building a wall. It’s leading us to sit back and laugh passively instead of getting angry. By giving people a sense of immediate catharsis when they simply retweet a pithy quote or video segment, comedy is actually sapping us of our drive to enact change.

“All of us can and should do a better job exiting our echo chambers and building relationships with people with different perspectives,” said Labh. “But I would hardly put the blame on our country growing more polarized on the shoulders of Jon Stewart.”

Undoubtedly, comedy is important for all the aforementioned reasons, including self-expression. But when taken too far, it can evolve into the left-wing equivalent of the right-wing’s “fake news” — it allows us to chuckle heartily in our own reality, convinced solely of our own morality, cocooned from the world. Certainly it’s educating us, but it also carries the repercussions of confining Americans to a one-side comedic debate.

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