May 8, 2007
Whilst I’ve been working on a longer text about the relationship between agile software development and comedy, I spotted this clip via Kottke.
Whether it can be argued that the Simpson’s have ‘done every possible script’ is nonsense or if Family Guy makes no issue about parodying, mocking and eschewing the values from the dominate Matt Groening show; either way, the laughter belongs not to the publisher but the audience. No laughs, no more shows.
SouthPark produced a machinima wonder of an episode ‘Make Love, Not Warcraft‘, playing the lead characters within WoW. Youtube has removed the episode several times, but here’s a UGC cut of the scenes. It no way conveys the funniness, but you get the idea.
Pwned (slang, with furiously debated origins) laughter is where the audience has to be aware that the focus of their enjoyment is proprietary. Canned laughter on the other hand is where the producer enhances a production , so that it acts as cue for the audience to laugh. Essentially it’s a post-production technique.
But isn’t all media-directed laughter a post-production technique for improving the production for the rest of the audience? If a laugh track is used, an executive somewhere has deemed it because of panic of a failing show. But does the audience needs to be encouraged to laugh?
True laughter is infectious, laughter lowers barriers. But laughter is not a right, it’s an impulse, essential to group communications. If you are being ‘encouraged’ to laugh, perhaps you should consider why. Especially if your laughter is selling the show to others.
Restricting, or controlling this impulse, raises questions over possession of stimuli; If something made you laugh and you want to share that joy with someone else, the ability to ‘freely laugh’ becomes a right allowed to an individual if the owner of the recorded gag says ‘yay’.
A comedy production brings a value to society in being able to concisely define our shortcomings; in definition of comedy, it’s something that ends well out of the turbulence that is life. At what cost of needing to empathise and understand our turbulent existence effecting of our peer communications? Should comedy not afford the same freedom that laughter has?
The irony in this is, animated or not, a sitcom borrows from daily life. May this be a crusade in WoW, a dysfunctional family farce or the adolescence of Canadians, the source to media based comedy is our lives. Once transferred to a production environment, ownership of the absurdities of life become restricted viewing. Perhaps it can be argues that ‘fair use’ is viable as the best sitcoms critique our lives, but I’ve not seen one yet that critiques infringed media rights. Possibly because it aint that funny.
In the recent debacle over the HD-DVD encryption hack sent the Digg community into hysterics. This is surely a sign that the laughter track of the networked society is based upon the light relief that an era of pwned entertainment is about to come to pass. Now that’s how to crack a joke, eh Stewie.
Update: Here’s the SouthPark episode in question. But don’t tell anyone. Will you?