The Comedy of Democracy

The Comedy of Democracy

The Comedy of Democracy

The Comedy of Democracy

Synopsis

The notion of society and politics as drama has drawn much attention in recent years. Yet despite the heritage begun by Aristophanes, few students of politics and the social order have taken comedy and comic inquiry seriously. This book revives the Aristophanic notion of democracy as comedy. Herein the reader will find why and how different aspects of American democracy--public opinion, interest groups, the presidency, and so on--are comic. It is the author's contention that the comic perspective offers insight and understanding on the actual operation of democracy. And they invite all those who wish to understand why American democracy is so comic to join them in their inquiry.

Excerpt

Star Trek is a remarkable phenomenon of American popular culture. Born in the 1960s, it lives on through original episodes and reruns of four TV series, profitable movies, paperback books, and countless memorabilia. Star Trek: The Next Generation, the successor to the original TV series, proved especially successful. There were many reasons. One was the array of beguiling characters. One of the most intriguing was an android, Data, a machine designed to look and interact like a humanoid. As episodes unfolded, Data was like Pinocchio, the wooden puppet trying hard to be a real boy, for one of the charming aspects of Data's character is that he never quite "gets it." He can't grasp why humans act oddly, that is, their lovers' spats, displays of gloom or anger, and readiness to say things contrary to what they mean. Data seems to think, "Oh, to be human so I could explain humans' puzzling ways."

In the first movie spin-off featuring characters from The Next Generation, the 1994 film Star Trek: Generations, Data comes a step closer to realizing his Pinocchio-like wish to be human. He has installed an "emotion chip." The chip allows Data to feel human emotions, crossing the line from being just a reasoning machine to a feeling being. In the course of the story, he feels fear, remorse, exhilaration, relief, satisfaction, and grief. Perhaps the truest evidence of his new human status is that he acquires a sense of humor. He . . .

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