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how to ruin a joke

By iammasima Sep 22, 2013 981 Words
President Versus The Untouchable

“Yo Taylor, I’m really happy for you and I’mma let you finish, but Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time”- Kanye West at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards on September 13, 2009. Two-thousand-and-nine was a big year in America. Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize for “his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between people” ( Kanye West interrupted Taylor Swift at the MTV Video Music awards in a very rude, inappropriate manner. Obama, during an interview with The Atlantic, called Kanye West a “jackass” for his inappropriate actions. And finally, during an opening monologue Conan O’Brien jokingly said, “President Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The committee said they gave it to Obama partly for his idealism and commitment to global cooperation, but mostly for calling Kanye West a jackass.” Quite an eventful year to say the least.

For a minute or two imagine the group of individuals who decided who wins the Nobel Peace Prize and why. One would normally imagine a group of intelligent, intellectual, educationally driven men and women. While discussing who would win the Nobel Peace Prize and why, these men and women probably talk about people who have impacted society and other people’s lives in a good way. Now, Kanye West, a known 21st century rapper, is someone you would not talk about in the same sentence, or in the same meeting discussion, as the Nobel Peace Prize. Publically Kanye West has gone off script and said “George Bush doesn’t care about black people”, has said AIDS was a “man-made disease [that was] placed in Africa just like crack was placed in the black community to break up the Black Panthers”. And of course the most famous outrageous thing, Mr. West interrupted Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech for Best Female Video at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs) because he thought Beyoncé should have won over Taylor. To many, Kanye’s celeb status is “untouchable”, he continuously does absurd things and yes, people talk about them, however no one ever really calls him out on it. No one says, ‘Kanye, you are wrong!’ because socially there are some people you just don’t touch, regardless on what they do, you just don’t touch them almost as if everyone is scared of them, forgetting they are humans just like you or I. Society act as if Kanye is a bully and no one wants to say anything to him in fear of be hurt themselves but Obama touched Kanye, unthinkable. Obama did not follow the trend and touched the untouchable saying, “Although I like Kanye…he’s a Chicago guy. Smart. He’s very talented…[but] he is a jackass…but he’s talented” and continued calling him a jackass in a few different occasions during the interview with The Atlantic. Obama finally “stood up to the bully” and “defended us”…us including Conan O’Brien, whom was the mastermind behind the ‘Nobel Peace Prize/Kanye West” joke.

Alone, the joke is funny, but to break it down a little bit, there are many elements that make this situation noteworthy. First, the fact that the President of the United States knows who Kanye West is, is not normal for most presidents, or most adults in general. Answering the question about Kanye during the interview was however, very political in some ways. Obama is constantly trying to target his younger audience members to get the younger vote. Keeping up with the times and what is popular in the youths generation is going to interest his audience a lot, maybe even expand his audience. We can’t solely put down Kanye though. Ironically enough, just as Obama is very well known, liked by many, and influential, many can argue Kanye is the same way to the same audience members, the youth. Most people can recite a Kanye West lyric quicker than a line from one of Obama’s speeches. More people probably downloaded Yeezus, Kanye West’s new album, than listened to a live podcast of Obama’s: Walk on Washington Speech. One can’t hide that when Kanye talks, people listen…however, to me people are listening more to hear what crazy thing Kanye will say next more than listening because they are infatuated in his lyricism

Jokes, like politics, have the ability to connect people. It does not have to be in a good way nor a bad way but it builds some time of relationship. Humans like relationships, we like to be able to relate to something or someone. We enjoy making connections and grouping things together. Poets and writers help make that connection as well, however they than hope you think in a more depth manner about said joke They help you see to whom the joke is meant for, why the joke would be funny, the jokes flaws and/or flaw in delivery, etc. And ultimately you realize that even though a joke is a joke, and by any other name it is still a joke, there is always more to something so simple.

So, why is the joke funny? In the most straightforward way, the joke is funny because O’Brien is trying to say, calling Kanye a jackass deserves a bigger award than idealism and commitment to global cooperation or extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between people. Its funny because Barack Obama, president, is not normally put in the same sentence as Kanye West, rapper. Nor do many people even relate them together. It’s funny because presidents do not normally give light to petty pop culture events or situations nor even know what is happening in pop culture. It is funny because Obama said what everyone has been wanting to say aloud but have been too afraid, he touched the untouchable.

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