just saw the Simpsons movie and was thinking this:
humour can be liberating, defiant, or even insurrectionary, when you laugh in the face of authority. but in "The Media" humour becomes a very efficient tool used by authority to pacify- a way to shrug off and ignore things we need to change and deal with ----- often it is the very thing we are laughing about: this shrugging-off and ignorance. Simpsons Movie exemplify this. we are in a dire situation, yes, and we are still behaving in irresponsible ways willfully ignoring the consequences -- it's all true but let's have a good laugh about our own suicidal stupidity and not take any of it seriously. it's all just entertainment isn't it, and a good laugh will make the viewer sleep well and wake up in the morning to do exactly like Homer.
the priviledged and smug self-entitled (ironic how rarely people deserve their riches, and how all of them feel that it's their god given right) take nothing seriously, and a smirk (often ironic - how's that for meta-irony?) always hangs about their faces -- life is a party/commercial and they are always witty, pleasant, and in good cheer.
in fact, there is an INABILITY to be serious. not even for a moment. the world would come crumbling down if one becomes serious -- fear of appearing to not be a good sport or even (GASP!) unhappy. as if all the things swept under the Happy Rug™ will come crawling out and take over if in "leisure" time we do anything other than go-with-the-flow, and project anything other than good humour.
i suppose like Zizek says, the official position is irony, sarcasm, and poking fun.* so i guess there are only 2 things left to do: 1. be the confrontational serious party-pooper or 2. over-identify and become a super swanky cheese-ball / party animal who actually makes others slightly uncomfortable because of how much one is (perversely) enjoying EVERYTHING and finding it all absolutely hilarious ALL THE TIME.
*while politicians display sanctimonious forced seriousness and phoney caring, the proscribed, encouraged, to the point of being mandatory, behavior for people in everyday life is a happy-go-lucky ironic distance, and this "shrugging-off" with a laugh. in the office, in a bar, in almost EVERY social situation. save, perhaps, funerals.
in my experience "caring" or being serious is definitely discouraged in society. I've "ruined" enough dinner parties to know. (yikes!) but this is very likely more true of the United States and perhaps of LA in particular than other parts of the world -- where the overwhelming feeling is one of "everything is and will always be just fine". and the creepy feeling that there is something wrong with you "if you are not as happy as people in commercials appear to be".
a friend pointed out guys like John Stewart are probably more a part of the problem than anything aproaching any kind of attempt at solutions -- the effect they have is more pro-status-quo than pro any kind of change.
in fact, fake democracy loves guys like Stewart, because in response they can dish out the endlessly annoying party-line: "well at least we are allowed to criticize blah blah blah" - one of the best reinforcements for illusory freedom. while in reality the Daily Show just makes people laugh about things they should be angry about and gives them a free pass to go on with biz as usual.