Monday, December 31, 2018

2018 for Laughs

If 2018 seemed to be singularly lacking in humor-- a sign of the impending apocalypse-- Dave Barry is at the ready to cast a wry, sardonic glance at the year that is now departing.

For your edification, I have selected a few remarks from Barry’s year-end Washington Post column, to brighten up your day.

He begins with a major media event that, to his mind, sums up 2018:

Instead we’ll cite one event that, while minor, epitomizes 2018: the debut of “Dr. Pimple Popper.” This is a cable TV reality show featuring high-definition slo-mo close-up videos of a California dermatologist performing seriously disgusting procedures on individuals with zits the size of mature cantaloupes. You might ask, “Who on Earth would voluntarily watch that?” The answer, in 2018, was: MILLIONS OF PEOPLE. That is the state of our culture. We can only imagine what new reality shows lie ahead. We would not rule out “Dr. Butt Wiper” or “People Blow Their Noses Directly Onto the Camera Lens.”

Is it a symptom of cultural decline? How could it be otherwise:

So at some point during 2018, normal, non-Beltway-dwelling Americans simply stopped paying attention to current events. Every now and then we’d tune in to a cable TV news show to see what kinds of issues our nation’s elite political/media class was grappling with, and we’d see a headline like “PORN STAR STORMY DANIELS: TRUMP DIDN’T USE A CONDOM.”

That was when “Dr. Pimple Popper” started to look pretty good.

For last January, Barry offers up this symptom of cultural collapse:

In youth fads, the American Association of Poison Control Centers continues to receive reports of young people suffering ill effects from eating Tide detergent pods. Asked to explain why young people would persist in eating something that tastes terrible and makes them sick, an AAPCC spokesperson says, “As far as we can determine, it’s because they’re stupid.”

Obviously, the most important event of last February was the Philadelphia Eagles winning the Super Bowl. OK, not for me… but, for those of you who care about the Eagles, here’s Barry’s take:

In domestic sports, the Eagles defeat the Patriots to win their first Super Bowl, and huge crowds of joyous Philadelphia fans celebrate by destroying downtown Boston.

No, that would actually make sense. In fact the Philadelphia fans spend the night destroying their own city, then head home for a hearty breakfast of Tide Pods.

We skip a few months and arrive at July, a momentous month if ever there was one:

Meanwhile Seattle becomes the first major U.S. city to ban plastic straws and utensils in all restaurants. San Francisco, sensing a threat to its status as front-runner in the Progressivelympics, responds by banning food and beverages in all restaurants.

In financial news, Facebook stock drops more than $100 billion in a single day — the greatest single-day loss in stock-market history — after the company releases a quarterly report revealing that many people have trouble distinguishing between the “wow” emoji and the “sad” emoji. Despite this setback Facebook is still worth way more than General Motors and most other American companies that make actual things.

And also:

In a coordinated nationwide response to Trump’s repeated attacks on the press, sternly worded editorials rebuking the president are published in more than 300 newspapers, with a combined editorial-page readership estimated at nearly 14 people. 

In September the nation was transfixed by the Brett Kavanaugh hearings. Barry manages to find a middle ground between the extremes:

The nation watches, riveted, as committee members hear more than seven hours of emotional testimony by Kavanaugh and his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, at the end of which the nation has learned the following facts:

1. The senators have no idea what, if anything, actually happened.

2. Nor do they care.

3. The truth is utterly irrelevant to them.

4. They all decided long ago how they were going to vote, based entirely on political calculations.

5. Given exactly the same testimony but different political circumstances, every single senator would passionately espouse the position diametrically opposite the one he or she is passionately espousing now.

6. Brett Kavanaugh really likes beer.

November saw the Democrats win back the House of Representatives. As it happened, the stock market, persuaded in October by Nate Silver that a Democratic victory was inevitable, had already started selling off. As you know, the market anticipates future events… especially events that are nearly a sure thing.

How did the Democrats win? Barry explains:

For their part, the Democrats appeal to voters with a three-pronged message:

Prong One: The Democrats are the party of fairness, diversity and inclusion.

Prong Two: Anybody who disagrees with the Democrats about anything is Hitler.

Prong Three: But more racist.

That pretty much sums up the Democratic message. How could they not win, given a nation that is mesmerized by Dr. Pimple Popper.

In December, Barry concludes:

Meanwhile in a devastating blow to the U.S. humor industry, Michael Avenatti  announces that he will not run for president. His departure narrows the potential Democratic field to pretty much every Democratic politician ever, including Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, somebody called “Beto” and the late Hubert Humphrey, all of whom believe Trump will be vulnerable in 2020, as confidently predicted by the many expert political observers who also confidently predicted Hillary Clinton’s presidency.

And then there is the Mueller investigation: 

Fueling this confidence are reliable rumors swirling around Washington that special counsel Robert Mueller is about to do some major thing that, while not specified in the rumors, will definitely mean the downfall of Trump and THIS TIME IT IS REALLY HAPPENING, PEOPLE. In anticipation of this event, CNN unveils a special panelist desk that is the length of a regulation basketball court, providing the capability to have an unprecedented 170 panelists sitting side-by-side expressing outrage simultaneously, and bringing CNN one step closer to the day when it has more panelists than actual viewers.

All this happens as congressional Democrats prepare to take control of the House of Representatives, where they plan to implement an ambitious agenda focused on the No. 1 concern of the American people, which of course is …

The 2016 elections!


trigger warning said...

Barry, once again, has his finger on the feathery pulse of the nation.

Nevertheless, I disagree with his estimates of the CNN audience and newspaper editorial page readers. Airport departure lounges are becoming more crowded with every passing day, and chain hotel bookings are rising.

My Oblig. NY Resolution: drink more champagne.

Wishing you a healthy, happy, and prosperous 2019, Schneiderman.

Sam L. said...

He may have his finger on the nation's pulse, but not mine. He lost mine 15-20 years ago. Maybe I'm just too old.

Doug Cranmer said...

No Q?