comedy or tragedy?

“This is not the kind of publicity we would ever seek,” said Phil Kent (no relation) about the Cartoon Network’s publicity stunt in Boston yesterday that inspired the headline story: Froth, Fear, and Fury in the Boston Globe.
I wasn’t there, so I cannot attest to the felt experience of the people who were frightened by the advertising or the city officials who rushed to the rescue. It occurs to me, however, that the function of comedy is to show a society its own foibles. Whether intentional or not, this event exposes the skein of our political economy.
While Americans bask in economic plenty (relative to most of the rest of the world’s populations, with indifference toward our own poor), the cost of our national security policies (over decades) begins to infringe on daily peace-of-mind. Hence, marketing-gone-awry. Suspicion lurks, pervasive. We know we are at risk.
Yet, accompanying this knowledge are many choices. We can assess when fear is reasonable or an overreaction. We can decide on limits to escalation and invest in alternative interventions. We can gauge the repressive mechanics of the law against the widening impulses of human cooperation. We can choose to lay tracks to peace or to perpetuate wars in which young people are warped by soldiering and disproportionate percentages of civilians die.
The Boston Globe published a photo of the two ‘masterminds’ giggling at their arraignment. I can imagine they are incredulous at the extreme reaction they have unwittingly invoked. I can imagine their defense: We were just doing our job! Yes. If we’re lucky, perhaps they will end up having done their job so well that stern, legalistic, and patronizing powers-that-be must take a pause.
There is an official apology/disclaimer posted on the Adult Swim website to appease those who didn’t appreciate being scared or inconvenienced. A toonzone blog has a few entries as the event has developed and a reaction article, Aqua Teen Hoaxing Force? How a Cartoon Brought a City to a Halt. As of today at 8:57 EST there are 362 replies to a thread started by nick23: Promotion Sparked Bomb Scare in Boston.
The kids know we have to poke fun at some of this crap because if we keep taking it all so dang seriously we’re never gonna be able to turn this planet around.

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