Humor and the Absurd

I recently watched the movie, Rosewater, directed by Jon Stewart. The amount of meta-ness about the film is almost over the top. The film is about an iranian journalist who was imprisoned for about four months during the Color Revolution in 2009.  A material contribution to his imprisonment was his interview with the Daily Show shortly before.  As a media platform that pokes fun at actual news outlets and contemporary affairs to bring to light the absurd, the Daily Show by Jon Stewart had sent a reporter to Iran during the protests in 2009 to interview with Bahari. The comedic interview led the Iranian authorities to believe that the iranian journalist was a spy for the American government.

It’s crazy that a comedic fake news shoe could have such an impact. On the one hand, Bahari’s imprisonment is tragic, and yet on the other hand, this tragic event and subsequent movie truly brought to light the absurdity that authoritarian governments are.

Anyway, I hope to think about this more.  The Chinese philosopher, Lin Yutang, was absolutely right in that the importance of humor is much overlooked in our society and that dictators lack humor.


The Death Toll of Recessions?

An article, dated April 30, 2015 in the Washington Post and written by a sister of a student who ended his own life while a student at the College of William and Mary in 2010, anecdotally suggests that the quality of counselling efforts at the College had drastically declined from from the time when the author was a student (Class of 2006).  The article begs the question of what might have changed in the school’s policies or managerial style in the intervening years to account for the decline in mental health counselling services and the negative turn in the way that the school’s administration handles students who come forth seeking help.  The suicide in 2010 was purportedly the first in five years.  Since 2010 there have been eight suicides at the school. 

It makes one wonder if what happened was that the Great Recession happened. State and local governments slashed their budgets during the recession and continued to during the recovery. As a public university, the College likely saw its public funding decline and had to adjust its own bduget accordingly. Perhaps, counselling services were trimmed down in the process. But of course, counselling efforts are no guarantee in preventing suicides. It is just one vector; but I do hope that the College can make an honest assessment of its policies and that our government and society-at-large can make it so that economic downturns will not will not exact a death toll.