Politics as comedy: the lecture
Auckland University runs this really cool, free lecture series that I only managed to catch the end of, attending Lecture 5: Politics as Comedy. I was delighted to hear that they were going to focus on The Daily Show as a reference. And I must confess that part of my glee came from the fact that TV Studies papers were my favourites back at university, and I spend rather a lot of time watching TV (albeit usually online) and rambling on about my analyses of TV shows to anyone who will have the grace to pretend to listen. I often think that if I went back to uni to do my Masters thesis in anything it would be some kind of intersection between pop culture, tv and psychology - perhaps something like the cultural impact on group behaviour in reality tv shows. Or how female talk show hosts like Ellen and Oprah use humour to ingratiate themselves with their audiences. Yes, this is the kind of stuff I think about in my spare time. Perhaps one day I'll manage to extricate myself from advertising fully, and get these things written!
Anyway, having gone on a tangent, I'll now come back round to the intended topic of this post, which is, of course, the lecture I attended.
As the full lecture is posted online I didn't take many notes, but something that was said in the introduction I found interesting: A simple breakdown that tells us how comedy is created by politics in 3 key ways:
1) Politicians who unwittingly create comedy through their actions eg Chris Carter making a fool of himself recently with his 'anonymous' letter.
2) Comedy created through advertising and media reporting on politics eg the TV3 ads featuring Mike McRoberts tooling around like he's MacGyver, ducking bomb blasts as the soundtrack sings "They call me the seeker...". What... a joke.
3) A thirdly, intentional comedy created as a reaction to the news. Such as The Daily Show, and other 'fake news' shows.
I won't go into this third point as it was the topic of the lecture, but I urge you all to follow this link and read the lecture in its entirety, as it was really interesting. Certainly got the rusty cogs of my brain turning:
Politics as comedy
Back in April I was interviewed for a segment on TV One's "Close Up" about how young interns are treated in advertising agencies while they're on trial placement or internships. The 10 minute piece aired on July 18th, around the time that our government is reviewing employment policies.
I was lucky enough to avoid this period that many newbies go through - being paid $100 a week and kept on for up to a year with no guarantee of a job at the end. And quite frankly, I don't think I would have put up with it for more than a couple of months.
The journalist who interviewed us asked a lot of leading questions and was obviously out to collect the evidence for only one angle: that is, us telling him all about the exploitation that goes on. Of course we were all a lot more diplomatic than he wanted; in fact my friend Jono who was also interviewed tells me the journalist kicked a rubbish bin in frustration because he wasn't getting the juicy gossip he expected. Media, huh.
The end result wasn't as bad as I expected, but it wasn't great either. For a 10 minute piece there was a lot of repetition, and they cut out a lot of my comments that offered the other side of the story. That is, while there is definitely exploitation going on from the agencies' end, young creatives play a part too. It's their responsibility to ask for more money or to walk away when it's obvious they're being used. Instead of just bitching about it and stealing booze from the agency fridge to make up for it. That's the only way we'll change the internship system from our end - by just saying no.
I'm glad the piece aired and I hope it starts the wheel turning for change. I'm not holding my breath though!
Another link to the piece here: