My friends I watched this as comedy. Even the cover is hilarious. The point being: a thing flourishes in its use, not its self-declaration.
In The Practice of Everyday Life, Michel de Certeau argues that the notion that power works top down — the message is declared and people succumb — is simply wrong. He refocuses our attention on the singular moment of consumption — the housewife perusing the shelves for wares, the pedestrian walking the streets, the Native Americans praying. De Certeau argues that as individuals, we make use of the so-called system in creative ways, in ways that often undermine the claims of power, in ways that further our own being rather than the presumed agenda of power.
He gives the example of Native Americans under Spanish rule, forced to pray in a Christian manner. From the outside, it looks like the Natives have been subdued, converted, that they've seen the light. On the inside, however, they continue to prey to their own idols using the figures of Jesus and the Virgin Mary.
De Certeau's point is that power can declare any message it wants, disseminate its mandates through the media. But at the point of consumption, we do all kinds of things with these messages.
When I was in college, my friends and I would pick a movie and decide it was a comedy. The one I remember the clearest is "Clan of the Cave Bear." Holy shit! For the first 3o minutes of the movie, we laughed uncontrollably hard — it was, by far, the funniest film ever made. Of course, it did not see itself as a comedy. But, in our use of it, we turned it into one.
Why only the first 30 minutes? Because sustaining that diligence is fucking exhausting. The film just keeps coming in its inane seriousness and to continue to metabolize it as comedy wears the body down. Plus, the pot wears off. (Drugs are a very good, very important way of shedding habit to see things anew, to put them to new use. This is one reason for the so-called war on drugs — which shouldn't be called a war because wars end (Carver, "The Wire").)
This is the way we watch television all the time — we watch it ironically or as a kind of pornography or or or or.... Just because someone watches this or that says nothing about that person. What matters is how they watch it.
I was out with a friend last — smart, cool, all good things — who informed me that she hates the word "joy." It's too self-help, she said. Me, I don't hate any word; I love them all — even words I don't enjoy saying. What interests me is the way a word is used. Sure, shmucks use all kinds of words badly — so badly it's enough to make us hate them. But that's not fair to the word. The word is a person like anyone else. It can do all kinds of things — if you know what you're doing.
Don't blame the word. Blame the speaker. When you see a word being misused, rather than avoid it, you should swoop it up and save it, use it in a more interesting, more engaging, fresh manner.
After all, what is more glorious than a word or phrase, long hackneyed to death, suddenly sprung to life?