Comedy is over. We killed it.
2016 isn’t funny anymore. It started off great, celebrities started dying and we got some good content out of a supposed curse. But the punchline never came.
Brexit. Trump. Mass shootings. Vine shutting down.
And Harambe. Just think about how much content we all got out of Harambe. The memes. The Halloween costumes. The choose-your-own-adventure stories. What were we thinking? We turned the senseless death of an animal into a joke. Does that demonstrate that we’ve lost our grip on what’s funny and not?
So what happened? Chalk it up to comedic inflation. Everything has to be funnier and funnier. Everyone is competing for the hottest take. The early memer gets the retweets. In this survival of the funniest, there’s not really the time for the gravity of any situation to sink in.
It’s obviously an over-simplification to say that Trump won the election because we were all too busy laughing at him to take him seriously as a political force. But there’s something to it.
The story that 15,000 people voted for Harambe turned out to be false, but it certainly rings true. We’re all competing for irony in an already over-saturated market. A selfie of yourself voting for Harambe in the polling booth would be valuable currency. But what’s the point?
Speaking of selfies, remember the guy who got a selfie with the would-be plane hijacker. In the Vice piece ‘There Is No More Banter Left After the Hijacker Selfie Became a Thing’, Golby hits the nail on the head about it. When your quest for #content overtakes your own personal safety, we’ve gone too far. It’s not even funny anymore.
There’s a subreddit called MemeEconomy that’s worth looking at. In MemeEconomy, redditors engage in a role-playing situation where they act as if memes have actual market worth. They talk about ‘trending’ memes and investment opportunities. It’s a joke, but it’s a solid commentary on the current landscape. Memes are as much commodities as they are ‘funny pics on the internet.’ (Did you notice when I described irony as an ‘over-saturated market’ above?). And MemeEconomy is itself a meme, everyone there is doing a bit. Bits about bits — when viewed from this perspective, the spiral into nothingness is evident.
When was the last time a meme actually made you laugh? It’s been a while for me. Even my own supposedly ironic Twitter account doesn’t bring me any joy. I’m supposedly occupying a meta-humour space, where my mocking of jokes is a joke in itself. I justify this farce by giving the name of anticomedy. But it’s a burden I can’t be bothered to deal with anymore. It’s almost like we’ve lost the ability to communicate properly, and have descended into a new form of language — centred around bits and memes.
Just like post-modernism killed sincerity. 2016 killed irony.
Irony is just the new sincerity. It’s the new paradigm for communication. We joke without joking. We ‘lol’ without laughing. There can’t be jokes anymore, there’s just….
I don’t even know what there is. Just nothing. Everything is too awful to be funny anymore.