Thursday, November 30, 2017

I finally got The Joke.

A few days ago, I threw out a joke about sponsoring cats. It was a parody of the old Sally Struthers sponsor-a-child-in-Africa charity drive. What I didn't expect was that people would actually want to sponsor a cat. "Their" cat. In my home. A cat which they cannot love, pet, cuddle or hold. A cat which they can enjoy only vicariously, from afar, through the photos that they'd expect to receive. And yet, I got several takers.

My reaction was a resounding "WTF!"

I wrote a blog post, and told my son about it. His reaction was, "what's wrong with that?" The husband of an online friend thought likewise.

And I realized that the world has literally gone mad. It's not people's willingness to pay for my cats' food that floors me... it's that absurdity has been normalized.

It's as if this isn't the universe I was born in. It's as if I'm caught in some sort of "Flashpoint" where a new universe spins off with every joke I tell. It's absurd, but it would explain why every single parody product I've ever imagined (and there are dozens of them) is now actually sold as a serious product. Given my experience, I'm debating whether I should be holding on to this "Flashpoint" joke on the slim possibility that it isn't a joke.

It's now my conviction that Poe's Law is mis-stated. It's not that a parody of extreme views is indistinguishable from the views themselves; it's that extreme views cannot be parodied, because the views cannot be made more ridiculous than they already are. The best you can do is faithfully re-state the views and let the audience decide which side of the theater they're going to sit in.

Furthermore, I've now concluded that the only person in real life or fiction who's ever understood this completely is...

(drum roll)... 

By Source, Fair use, Link
The Joker. 

Yeah. The Batman villain.

For decades, the Joker has teased Batman with the idea that there is some "joke" that motivates his murderous rampage. Whatever it is, it's hilarious, but he's never actually stated it, not even in "The Killing Joke". Every other character concludes that he's batshit crazy, a chaotic element; and they lock him up in an insane asylum, melt down the key to slag, and pray to God in Heaven that he doesn't escape... again.

But now I know the Joke. And it's funny.

Not only that, it makes the Joker the sanest person in the DC Universe... or this one, for that matter.

The Joker isn't a murderous psychopath. He never has been.

He's a parody of one.

BTW, if you haven't figured it out, this is a joke. Without a disclaimer, I'm pretty sure this post will put me on somebody's watchlist. Hell, it might happen with a disclaimer. But to the extent that it's a serious explanation for the Joker's motivation... think about it.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

(Almost) All Superheroes are Orphans

My son and I were discussing the dearth of superheroes with parents in the DC Universe. We do a schtick where Batman is being all self-pitying and the other heroes admit that they're all orphans, too; and it didn't reduce them to brooding psychopaths. And since the trend in comics is toward social justice, I figured, why don't they just go all in and stop pussy-footing around?
FLASH: Hey, Batman. 
BATMAN: Flash. Where've you been? 
FLASH: Oh, I've been scouring the Multiverse, looking for superheroes who aren't orphans. 
BATMAN: Let me guess... you didn't find any. 
FLASH: Well, I found this guy. 
NEW GUY: Hello. 
BATMAN: You have parents? 
NEW GUY: Oh, yeah. Mom AND Dad! 
BATMAN: And they're not dead? 
NEW GUY: Nope! Safe and sound. 
BATMAN: But they're evil or something, right? 
NEW GUY: Uhm, no... they're pretty great, actually. They really love me and support everything I'm doing! I don't know how I'd get along without them. Came pretty close one time, though... 
FLASH: Oh, this is a good story! 
BATMAN: (glares) 
NEW GUY: Well, this one time my parents took me to the movies, and then a petty crook pulled a gun on us in a back alley! I thought we were goners! But I pushed Mom and Dad out of the way at the last minute. The crook ran away. I was only eight years old, but I decided then and there that I'd devote my life to making it so that guys like that wouldn't have to stoop to a life of crime. 
BATMAN: So your powers are... what, exactly? 
NEW GUY: Well, I'm rich. I fight crime by building shelters for the homeless, and by giving away money. 
BATMAN: You said this guy was a superhero. 
FLASH: In all fairness, he builds a lot of shelters. 
NEW GUY: I give away a lot of money, too. 
FLASH: Yeah, there's that. 
BATMAN: But... criminals... 
NEW GUY: The "bad guys" usually just turn out to be needy. I remember my first case. There was this nightclub comic. He was having a really bad night. Looked like he was preoccupied, and it was messing up his act. So I bought him a drink and asked him what was wrong. Turns out his wife was pregnant and he was desperate. And when a guy gets desperate like that there's no telling what sort of trouble he might get into. So I gave him ten grand on the spot. Oh, man, was he grateful! It was like a huge weight had been lifted off of him! And it showed in his act! His timing picked up, his delivery improved... he had the crowd in stitches. Went on to become the biggest name in show biz. There are a lot of comics in the world, but this guy is THE Joker! Named his kid after me! 

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Sponsored Cats

How can you turn down that face? Seriously!
One of my cats has had a litter of kittens, and they're now old enough to unload drown find loving homes for.

I spent some time at work today doing just that, without much success. Apparently, the world is filled with cat haters.

As the rejections mounted up, my "sales pitch" became more aggressive. For instance:

"Each cat is free to a good home... or you can have all three for 30% off."

"Dog owner? No problem! These kittens are delicious!"

Finally, having simply given up in my mind, I tried this one:

"For just pennies a day, you can sponsor a cat in my home. In return for your donation, you will receive a picture of 'your' cat along with its name, birthday, and other vital statistics; video updates sent to your smart phone; and your cat will write to you once a month. What better way to 'own' a cat without having the fuss and bother of feeding it, cleaning up after it, or risking exposure to potentially dangerous allergens?"

I swear to God in Heaven above, I did NOT expect that to work.

I got three takers right off the bat.