I’m picking up last week’s thread of defining “the funny,” when funny means something entirely different depending on your target audience or readership—“guy-guys” versus simply “guys” versus “young women” versus “older women” (whatever that means to you). Then there are the many other differentials—income disparities, education, cultural antecedents … My own sense of humor is decidedly on the raunchy side, although with my “privileged” education you might expect it to be a bit more sophisticated.
Just to recap from last week, I gave my brother-in-law and sister several “funny” movies for Christmas, and definitely did not bat a thousand. The first movie on the list was Team America: World Police.
In writing we talk a lot about “audience” and “readership”; so, who is the audience for Team America? Probably not me, a somewhat gracefully aging white woman. So, South Park fans, right? Who are they? Guy-guys of all ages. People who are not put off by profanity, perversity, and absurdity. People who aren’t offended by cultural stereotypes (Kim Jong Il can’t say his “L”s.) Granted, these are not elements that just anyone can turn into side-splitting hilarity. I am not defending PPA for its own sake, not at all. If you’re going to make your living juggling hand-grenades, you’d better be prepared for the fallout when one of them goes astray. All of this stuff is explosive and just plain ugly in the wrong hands.
For me Trey Parker and Matt Stone—with their Mormon backgrounds, love of musical theater, vast knowledge of film history—have made just about the perfect movie. In fact, I’m going to buy the soundtrack, which is beautifully crafted and show their fundamental understanding of how a successful musical is constructed.
What can you say about filmmakers who incorporate their hatred for the movie Pearl Harbor into a love song? Who don’t even bother to give their activist movie star women female voices? Who turn Kim Jong Il into Herbie the Dentist from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer? Who warn us in the credits about “puppet sex and puppet violence”? (And boy, they aren’t kidding.)
Jeff and I have a lot of perverse friends, but none of them seem to like Team America as much as we do. And I admit, it was absolutely the wrong movie to give my sister and her husband for Christmas. I really didn’t take my “audience” into account this time. Wish I’d kept it for myself. (Although, knowing my sister, she will give it back to me. She tends to do that with gifts she doesn’t like.)
So, I’d say that among Jeff and my friends, the percentage of true fans of Team America is 9/11 x -100. (This is a direct quotation from Jeff.) Which I’m aware makes no sense at all unless you’ve seen this movie.
[WARNING: See a few YouTube clips before renting this movie. That should tell you if it’s your thing or not.]
The movie does have a 4 star rating on IMDB, so maybe we just need to get some new friends.
“I’m so ronry …”