Thursday, March 08, 2007

Wanted: anti-corporate humor

If you're an active netizen, you've almost certainly found lots of "humorous" emails in your inbox, forwarded by well-meaning friends and relatives. Typically, they go something like this:

"All Joe Blow wanted to do was fix his fence. Trying to play by the rules, he dutifully applied for a permit to do the job. Then all hell broke loose. A bureaucrat in the county planning office discovered that his existing fence was two inches onto his neighbor's property, and would have to be torn down and rebuilt. Then the Department of Sensitivity and Political Correctness discovered the Indian burial mound across the street. Joe's property would have to be excavated by a team of pointy-headed archaeologists from the state university before he could install new fenceposts. The inept excavators broke his water line, flooding his basement and destroying his wife's collection of priceless Beanie Babies. Trying to save the Babies, Joe slipped on the wet stairs and fractured his sacroiliac. Now poor Joe has no fence and bills for $20,000. From his hospital bed, Joe said wanly 'All I wanted to do was fix my fence.'"

Though details vary, invariably the theme is: government is inherently meddlesome, capricious, incompetent and ridiculous, if not downright evil. Well, it's time to fight backā€¦

But first: The story above is NOT TRUE! I totally made it up. So it had better not appear in an email from my redneck brother-in-law six months from now as something that really happened!

Here's the point: for all the "funny" anti-government stories like this I've seen, I can't remember getting a single one about a corporation being meddlesome, capricious, incompetent or ridiculous (not to mention greedy!) This can't be an accident, and I'll go so far as to speculate that the Right Wing Noise Machine employs people whose specific job it is to collect and disseminate these stories around the Net. Hell, I bet they even make up stories, like I just did.

It's all part of the campaign to discredit all government that was launched back in the 60's. Recall that long before he became President, Ronnie RayGun was travelling around giving speeches on the horrors of the Big Bad Government. Yesterday, WaPo columnist Marie Cocco reminded us that we are now reaping the fruits of Reagan's anti-government jihad in things like the gutting of FEMA, the Walter Reed mess, and of course the profiteering in Iraq.

What to do? Well, if I ran the Rockridge Institute or, I'd consider fighting fire with fire (I exclude Public Citizen because Mr. Nader is unfamiliar with the concept of humor).

Humor is the key word here. There are plenty of progressive, anti-corporate screeds around, but they're too often told in an outraged, accusing, shrill voice that's a guaranteed turnoff if you're not part of the Movement. The Right is smarter than that. They tell stories that make the point without shouting, and are droll enough that Joe Sixpack just might decide to forward them along to his beer buddies.

Make 'em chuckle and you'll eventually win them over. So how about it?



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