Topics: Aristophanes, Ancient Greek comedy, Comedy Pages: 5 (1495 words) Published: May 11, 2015
Veronica Torres
The Comic Effect – 1st paper

A Comedic Lesson Against War

Often taken lightly, comedies are seen as works of literature meant to lift spirits and change the mood of an audience. Although what a passive audience doesn’t realize is that when taken seriously, a comedy can have a very powerful effect on society. It has the ability to teach us through our own laughter. The author of a comedy uses our funny bones against us in a well-thought out scheme to get us to change the way we may think about something. We laugh at what is wrong, correct ourselves, and then attempt to correct the problem in our everyday lives. In this way, comedy can spark a change in a society by altering the way that society’s citizens see what is right and what is wrong based on what an author is trying to teach us. The age of comedy does not affect the ability of it to teach. Although the techniques by which an old comedy and a new comedy might do this can differ, the effectiveness generally stays the same. For example, when you take the two comedies Lysistrata by Aristophanes and Fahrenheit 9/11 by Michael Moore, you see that they both share the common goal of spreading antiwar sentiment while using different tactics. This is not to say that they don’t also use similar tactics, because they do. But being that Lysistrata was written around 411BC and Fahrenheit 9/11 was filmed in 2004, they are bound to have different strategies reflecting their time periods. Not to mention, the first is a play and the latter is a movie. To recognize the differences, one must first set aside the similarities that come with sharing a similar goal, if not an identical goal. Both Lysistrata and Fahrenheit 9/11 are anti-war critiques. Aristophanes and Moore want you to laugh at war and politics to get you to question it and if they are successful, hopefully push you to make a change. In this case, the change would be to refrain from war. They focus on the domus and demonstrate to us how war is damaging to women and the domestic. The politics of the domus teaches us to laugh at the men and with the women because their political programs are more rational considering “the personal is the political.” War takes away a woman’s husband and children and ruins a healthy life at home. Just as Lysistrata represents this healthy life in the play, Lila Lipscomb represents the healthy life in the movie. Both women question the purpose of war and help demonstrate the negative impacts of war on the family life. Who we laugh at, the kill joy, and who we laugh with, the play boy, in each also has an effect on how we learn to laugh at and criticize war. In Lysistrata, we begin with laughing at the women because they don’t seem to give any effort in trying to end the war, or demonstrate any ability to do so. They follow in the image of the patriarch and are in the phase of masquerade, imprisoned by the male desire and giving into naïve submission. Then once they become aware of the male gaze and use it to their advantage through Lysistrata’s guidance, they enter into the mimicry. This leads us to laugh at the men, once the women have shown their intelligence through women’s agency and have taken power over their own gaze. The text shows us that women are the rational ones as opposed to what was previously thought in a phallo-logocentric world. Now the men are the kill joys and the women are the play boys. Fahrenheit 9/11 doesn’t quite develop its kill joy and play boy in this manner. It is fully obvious from the beginning to the end of the movie that President Bush is the kill joy. Moore goes into extensive mockery of Bush and his relationships with the bin Laden family, the Saudi Arabian government, and the Taliban. He shows us how Bush makes a fool of himself and consequently his own presidency through his “bushisms.” He wasn’t the type of president that we would’ve benefitted from at a time like that, for example an FDR type of...
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