How Much Humor Can America Handle?

Andrew Sullivan —  Jan 12 2015 @ 1:20pm

God bless Tina Fey and Amy Poehler:

Poniewozik reviews the Golden Globe’s jokes through the lens of Charlie Hebdo. He pays particular attention to outrage over Margaret Cho’s impersonation of a North Korean general and Fey and Poehler’s skewering of Cosby:

For all the horror at the shootings and support for the right to expression, Americans get nervous about satire long before it reaches the scathing, vicious tone of Charlie Hebdo‘s cartoons. We’ve had numerous debates over whether a rape joke can ever be good and funny (though I’d say Fey and Poehler’s, aimed at a powerful person accused of assault, are Exhibit A of how one can be). And though Cho herself is Korean, playing a foreign character–and though she already played dictator Kim Jong Il on Fey’s 30 Rock–any lampooning of a heavily accented Asian character on this stage was likely to trip the outrage meter.

As with the Charlie Hebdo cartoons themselves, it was an example of a tension in American melting-pot culture, especially in left-leaning communities like Hollywood: classical liberalism (which emphasizes expression and personal and artistic liberties) bumps up against progressivism (which emphasizes identity politics and power dynamics).

So, nous sommes tous Charlie? Maybe. But more in theory than in practice.