As I say in the introduction to my comedy page, there are two equal and opposite approaches to politics: comedy and tragedy. If the homepage to this website is an indication, I’m childish enough to rewrite tragedies. I usually write happy endings and I conduct my life with a defiant silliness. It’s not just sadness but somberness. The fog of the emotional black steam of our culture is so thick, it’s difficult to breathe and to see clearly. The darkness of the world is as much how you meet the world as it is how the world meets you. So, I put on an act and no matter how broken I am on the inside I keep my poker face and I dance and make funny faces at the seriousness of the epicness of the fascists’ rallies.
If there has been any trend on the left I have disliked, it is the constant somberness of having to show how much you care. As if being silly and witty is callous toward the waterfall of victims raining down every news cycle. Love stories are often happy and that includes the agape form of love, that is, the charitable form. I prefer to express agape with edge, fire, and laughter because love is a radical concept whose boldness deserves nothing less than the sharpest wit. I also say in the introduction to my comedy page that the self-pity that comes with self-assigned victimhood turns the perpetrators into monsters which both gives them more power and makes them more difficult to forgive. The devil lives to make sadness and if you’re sad, he wins. If you’re sassy and irreverent toward the devil, it will incense him.
With all due respect to my comrades in the Gay-Straight Alliance who cried into each other’s shoulders and did what I saw as a threat to the civil liberties of the students by working with a vice principal on anti-bullying policies, I would go my own route. I was going to fight back metaphorically showing my teeth and taunting my bullies with smartness and burning. I was a free spirit and rouge who relished his independence and disdained authority. I was going to face school’s worst down as a political comedian in the hallways of Wando High School and I did. I did it in multiple ways over the course of years but for this article I will focus on one of the major episodes: Mary Catherine O’Neil.
When I went to Wando High School, the jocks had a revanchist nostalgia for the glory days of high school culture when they were the heroes of small-town America. Lots of Country songs (as well as political currents) fantasize about the mid-20th century as being the golden days of America. This was long before Trump and it all seemed to be a silly delusion of people inventing a misremembered past like romantic movements from time immemorial. It wasn’t harmless but it was far from fascist. That was rich comic material, fading aristocracy having grandiose dreams of their former glory is a ridiculousness that begs to be mocked.
I didn’t mock all of it and I lacked the skill to do so at the time but they provided lots of material. The Wando popular class brimmed with stupid absurdity. It shined out to the universe a beacon of imagined greatness that had to be deconstructed through satire. If they were going to be 1958, I was going to be 1968. Something the contemporary left has lost the spirit of and has forgotten how to do. I was alone in my method but with no one to my side, I stood before the juggernauts and openly countered the sanctity with which they regarded themselves with my spirit.
A long time ago, in September, one of the most popular kids, stereotypically he was a football player, created a fake Facebook account for one of his teammates as a means of mocking said teammate for their weight, specifically, his recent loss of weight. He had formally been taunted for having the weight. It was though that they saw him as among the weaker members of the team and would find any, even contradictory, reason to target him. The victim, knowing me to be an ally, contacted me by text asking me to take down the profile. I had another idea. I asked whether he would let me convert the profile to a joke account and he said yes.
Thus, after I changed the name and info of the profle, was begun the saga of Mary Catherine O’Neil, a character from a novel I had abandoned. I made her a satire of the Wando popular class with their shameless hedonism, pride, and combined with an evangelical Christianity. Mary was many things, she was my fiancé, my literal guardian angel, a drug dealer, a prostitute, and a devout Roman Catholic. Her fictional sex acts, including ones with me, were broadcast to the Wando population. For a people known for their drug use and promiscuity, they reacted with characteristic hypocrisy. They derided me, because it was widely-known to be me, as perverted and creepy for posting things about drinking cum, masturbation, bestiality, and so forth. The drug abuse tended to not offend them. This all despite the fact it was written by a virgin with no sexual experience whatsoever.
I loved offending them. They deserved every iota of annoyance they felt. What was most charming and heartwarming for me was their abject hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is the most defining characteristic of the South. Living like the Dukes of Hazard and pretending to be Forest Gump. While it didn’t directly collapse their social capital, it did help clear the air of the oafish, glowing, pride with which their cliques were upheld by disillusioning the population, as much as it could, with the irreverence for the propriety of the school’s society. It did not take the popular class down but it did take a shot at their greatness. It helped, to a degree, bring them from being the small-town heroes they had been regarded as to being slightly deluded overconfident parodies of small-town heroes. The emperor was still the emperor and he still had some clothes but he’d been stripped to his undies. I had done the work of love, I had shown my teeth to power and while I did not have a resounding victory, I did have a victory.
In the end, I had brought light and love into the hallways of that school that my comrades in a way the GSA could not have done. I had challenged the illusions of arrogance with the acid burn of forced humility. The air was more breathable and, most importantly, I finished the campaign with a love and an affection for my opponents that self-pity would have denied me. I did not come from it unscathed and those tactics have backfired and gotten me more hurt than my GSA comrades who cried into each other’s shoulders. Still, love is worth a lot and it is certainly worth the pain of choosing tactics that use, keep, and increase it. In a world where it was split between cruelty and crying, I brought laughter and wit. A burning light in a storm of darkness. Ultimately, that is how I will always try to do politics and life.