Thursday, May 03, 2012

Down the garden path and right off the cliff

kw: book reviews, nonfiction, satire

In 1962 the country got a good laugh from Vaughn Meader's record album The First Family, which poked fun at President John Kennedy and his family. It was great fun, and introduced a new generation to political satire, which had been rather thin on the ground since the early 1900s.

I was expecting something similar, with perhaps a broader spectrum, from American Freak Show: The Completely Fabricated Stories of our New National Treasures, by Willie Geist. I had not reckoned with the X generation and its propensity to be eXtreme in everything. Start with the notion of a caricature. It may be gentle or biting, subtle or broad, but well done caricature leaves its target recognizable.

This is not so with this book. It takes the notion of satire right to the edge of humanness, and quite a bit beyond. It also goes well beyond the bounds of decency. None of it was funny enough to justify the profane and vulgar content. Saturday Night Live is positively Victorian by contrast. I'm sorry I read it, and that's the last I'm going to say.

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