No Laughing Matter Zubi.pdf


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INTRODUCTION
For the past decade, political satire has flourished in the United States of
America— some argue shaping the national discussion and changing political
outcomes (McClennen, 2011; Day, 2011). However, the same politically transformative
effects have not been observed in Canada. It could simply mean Americans desire
political satire and act upon its influence more than Canadians, but also perhaps it
means a potentially powerful tool for social change in Canada is going unused.
The opportunities for and pitfalls of incisive and critical political satire in Canada
can be illustrated with the Canadian political satire TV show This Hour Has 22 Minutes’
recent forays into music videos. A 22 Minutes video about a scandal embroiling the
Canadian Senate, set to the popular song “Royals” by Lorde, was presented with
critical thought and commentary, with allusions to the elites and misspent public funds,
including lyrics like “ballin’ like [Pamela] Wallin, because who doesn’t wanna fly to
Saskatchewan via Punta Cana” (Walsh et al., 2013). The use of a catchy and thenubiquitous song to riff off of, as well as its ease in online dissemination in the form of a
short easily shared video all added to this impactfulness. However, a subsequent 22
Minutes music video about Toronto mayor Rob Ford, whose crack use while in office
had become international comedic fodder, set to the tune of “What Does the Fox Say,”
a viral song by Norwegian comedians Ylvis, was more problematic. It consisted of a
Rob Ford caricature, obese, red-faced, and smoking what is meant to be a crack pipe,
at what seemed to be a forest rave, and its lyrics repeated Ford’s quotes regarding the
crack video allegations, including “I get enough to eat at home,” (referring to oral sex
related accusations) and “only in a drunken stupor” (his explanation of when he used
crack) (Walsh, 2013). This basic restating of Rob Ford’s own words made no critical or

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