The Founding Fathers dedicated their lives to principals of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. They held as self-evident the inalienable rights all people have to live, worship and think as they choose. In doing so, they defended ideals. They defended freedom.
They defended fart jokes.
North Korea’s hackers nearly scared Sony into pulling the plug on “The Interview,” a move that President Obama weighed in on as “a mistake.”
“We cannot have a society where some dictator someplace can start imposing censorship here in the United States,” he said.
It might be the first time the leader of the free world has had to weigh in on an infantile comedy, but Jewish sages have long understood the significance of silly.
The Talmud contains a story of a man walking in a marketplace with the Prophet Elijah. He asked the prophet who among the throng had a place in the World to Come. When two people entered whom Elijah identified as worthy, the man wondered what exalted activity could they possibly be engaged in.
“We are jesters,” they told him. “We make sad people laugh.”
In an online review of “The Interview,” one North Korean defector living in London wrote that he was confused by the language and humor of the film, but that the scene in which North Koreans revolt and elect a democratic government moved him: “For me, it was a pleasure to ponder about how good it would be if the miracles of the film could come true in reality.”
Miracles. I’m assuming that’s the first time a Seth Rogen movie have ever been described with that word, but it is not the first time a comedy has been held up as a middle-finger salute on behalf of the downtrodden.
In 1940, the New York Times reviewed Charlie Chaplin’s “The Great Dictator” with these words: “No event in the history of the screen has ever been anticipated with more hopeful excitement … And the happy report this morning is that it comes off magnificently. ‘The Great Dictator’ may not be the finest picture ever made — in fact, it possesses several disappointing shortcomings. But, despite them, it turns out to be a truly superb accomplishment by a truly great artist — and, from one point of view, perhaps the most significant film ever produced.”
The significance of sophomoric humor was not lost on fundamentalist gunmen in Paris last month, who killed 12 people associated with the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, before being killed while on a second terror binge.
The immediate response from the free world was to adorn T-shirts and posters with the phrase, “Je suis Charlie.”
Beautiful words of solidarity, but I’m waiting for something more. I’m waiting for a comedian — probably a Jewish one — to come up with something truly defiant. Some send-up of violence that is low on class but big on significance.
Because, right about now, the world could use a good fart joke.
Mayrav Saar is a writer based in Los Angeles.