This year will be remembered for its toxic fluff. Provocateurs and dime-store Howard Beales such as Seth Meyers, John Oliver, Lena Dunham and Andy Richter have demonstrated zero political efficacy. If anything, we’ll never know how much their smugness ostracized potential allies and inflamed the opposition’s base. No one — even the undereducated and marginalized — enjoys being condescended to. And yet, part of the Democratic strategy was to talk down to the citizens of America or to shame them into not voting for Trump. This sort of satire was arguably successful earlier in Jon Stewart’s run on The Daily Show, but it was fresh at the time. It had teeth and seemed to matter. But that formula has been rinsed.
The approach needs to change because it no longer works. It wasn’t clever enough and it underestimated the opposition. Even after taking a gut-wrenching loss on Nov. 8, many outlets and rogue social media celebrities have doubled down on their coverage of pop culture/reality crossover content, whimsical post mortems and open letters.
The most damning of these unintentionally hilarious postelection missives is the Lena Dunham’s Lenny Letter obituary of HRC’s political career, in which Hillary is described as an infallible deity and no mere corporeal form but, instead, “light itself.” That’s not all. The first graph ends with, “She will be the finest world leader our galaxy has ever seen.” But this isn’t Clickhole. It’s the marrow of liberal confusion and hysteria.
The fictional Leslie Knope of Parks and Recreation wrote a bewildering open letter (is there any other kind) the day after the election in which she pulled out some PG invective, calling Trump “a giant fart monster.” That’s a perfect example of the type of doughy, undercooked humor Parks and Rec coasted on for more than half a decade.