Monday, March 28, 2005

On Humor in The New Yorker and Elsewhere

The New Yorker I got in the mail today offered a brief piece, by Larry Doyle, consisting of humoress bits. Here are two that I thought were striking:
Tracy Hanky and Jerome Panke began dating last November based on a shared amusement at the though of their potential hyphenated surname. In late February, Ms. Hanky extneded the riff to include "having a little Hanky-Panke," at which point Mr. Panke felt the joke had played itself out.
I wonder how much longer punchlines in elite, liberal, North-Eastern magazines will be able to rest on such explicit gender assumptions?

And I wonder if this type of humor will only continue to grow:
Ivy Wheeler has declared her torrid six-year affair with Kyle Brindley to be all a figment of Mr. Brindley's fevered imagination. Mr. Brindley responds that Ms. Wheeler is simply angry about his recent fling with the Bush twins.
Just a few days ago, the Bush twins were used by Maxim to introduce a new segment in the magazine. Similarly, during the election, it seemed a lot of attention was placed on the hotness--relative, comparative, and otherwise--of the Bush twins, Kerry daughters, and, ocassionally, the Heinz sons. There was even a rather embarassing photograph circulating and talked about throughout the internet and traditional media outlets of Alexandra Kerry wearing a dress to the Cannes Film Festival that became translucent underneath the flashes of cameras.

It seems that our simultaneous emphases on sex and politician's personal lives have moved beyond just paying attention to the extramarital sex politicians have. Instead, we have taken it upon ourselves to enact a form of sexual gaze and attention on politicians' children. It's even gotten so far that the sexual identity of Mary Cheney can be used as a form of evidence by a presidential candidate at a presidential debate!

Though there must naturally be some sort of burden of attention placed on these children--as well as numerous benefits (few of us get to go on some multi-stop tour of Africa--I think it shouldn't be that difficult to draw some lines. There must be enough young and attractive people to talk about and upon to allow us to ignore the children of our government's more visible public servants.


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