Power is Always Suspicious of Fun

My dad told me once that Hitler feared Charlie Chaplin more than Winston Churchill, because people will rally around a leader who is faced with an enemy, but lose their fear of one who has been made to look ridiculous. I’ve repeated that many times, but I’m damned if I can find a credible source.

Similarly, for years I have quoted Orwell saying that Rudyard Kipling was the best bad writer English ever produced. Turns out it wasn’t Orwell (though his piece on Kipling is still a joy to read), but whoever said it was right: Kipling’s racism and jingoism were embarrassing even in his own later years, but Kim and The Jungle Book and The Man Who Would Be King are still just so much fun to read.

Which brings us to recent comments by Very Important Directors about Marvel’s superhero movies. These VIDs have made great art, but like most powerful people, their power has made them deeply suspicious of anything that is merely fun. Power doesn’t trust Fun because it never knows what Fun is going to do. Power is always a little bit worried that Fun is going to make fun of it, or come up with something so wonderful that people might stop paying attention to Power (if only for a while). Power has to look down on Fun because it can’t be sure that Fun will look up to Power like it’s bloody well supposed to.

I’m not religious, but I’ve read a few things over the years, and to the best of my knowledge, no faith’s scriptures contain a joke that bears re-telling. People tell me there’s joy in heaven, but is there laughter? Are there jokes that stay funny forever, and if so, are any of them at Her expense? I kind of hope so, because if there is an afterlife, I’ll be disappointed if Fun’s not there.

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