There’s Nothing Wrong with Snark
We’re not laughing because we’re ignorant or privileged — we’re laughing so we don’t cry
There is so much wrong with this attack on snark, I don’t know where to begin.
First of all, you are mad at Hillary Clinton (as per usual) for using snark as a campaign tactic. But she’s actually not, at all, and it’s certainly not “ the only weapon in Hillary Clinton’s media campaign.” There is no snark on Clinton’s official Twitter or Facebook feeds — her campaign is deadly serious about Trump.
All the snark you are complaining about is actually coming from unaffiliated individuals on social media. Individuals like you, as a matter of fact. You have written quite a lot of this political snark genre yourself throughout the election cycle. And while you acknowledge that you are “guilty of snark,” you are still going strong after the publication of your anti-snark piece. Por ejemplo:
Good stuff, by the way. I find your snark very funny. But I am confused about why you are writing about how snark is the wrong response, when you are such a prominent and successful example of the genre. If you think snark is disrespectful and ineffective, why are you doing so much of it?
Second, I don’t think you understand what motivates people to write dark comedy about the election, and that explains in large part why you are being completely unfair to those who write it.
Dark political comedy in times of crisis has a long history that you completely ignore. During the European revolutions of 1848, Antonin Obrdlik said that “gallows humor is an index of strength or morale on the part of oppressed peoples.” You scorn the idea of mocking Hitler and joking about the Nazi invasion of Poland, but in fact humor was seen as an act of rebellion, and satirical manuscripts were smuggled out of occupied France and published in New York. Snark has power — so much, in fact, that fascists and dictators took it seriously as a threat.
You are also making extremely uncharitable assumptions about the lives and feelings of people who are responding to Trump with snark and humor. You want people to acknowledge that the country is in a crisis, that Trump is “threatening the wellbeing of virtually every American citizen,” that his policies would destroy the American economy. You demand that people respond with the appropriate level of seriousness to the existential threat a Trump presidency would pose to Muslims, immigrants, Black people, women, and on and on.
That’s all true. You are right to call this a crisis and to point out how very far from normal and acceptable Trump and his party have become. But don’t think for a minute that the people being snarky on Twitter don’t realize it.
What you don’t take into account is that humor isn’t flippant or naive or uncaring. It doesn’t reflect a failure to fully appreciate the seriousness of the situation. Humor is a coping mechanism that allows people to bear the unbearable. People are not laughing at Trump because they don’t care or don’t understand how dangerous he is. We are laughing so we don’t cry.
And I don’t know where you’re getting this “only privileged people are snarky about the election” thing, because it’s not even remotely true. You tell me — are these the faces of “the privileged who have the luxury of labeling themselves progressive while never worrying about their skin being in the game”:
These are not “rich, white people with the luxury of watching the news for sport so as to make jokes about it.” These people get what’s at stake, and they probably get it better than you do. They are the ones whose religion is being called evil, the ones whose children may be gunned down for buying a pack of Skittles, the ones who are already dreading the midnight raid that will deport their families. Don’t you dare tell those people their humor reflects a lack of “skin in the game.”
Your attack on snark is itself a prime example of privilege. You wag your finger and scold about how “the severity of the situation warrants more than jokes.” You presume to tell other people — people who have more to lose in this election than you do — that the way they express their fear and anger and grief is unseemly and inappropriate.
What you are doing is tone policing, and you need to cut it out.