Friday, July 19, 2013

Hoping to answer BionicDance's question

On a recent video from SomeGreyBloke a character called Dan Cardamon posted this video.

Dan Cardamon on "everyday sexism"

My good friend BionicDance posted this comment (which is now hidden due to the number of negative votes; the reason I disable comment voting on my videos by the way)

Lot's of people responded to her, some were polite and told her this was satire, others were more hateful.

She followed up with this comment exchange here and this is what I am hoping to address.

So to clarify I think BionicDance is making the following points.

  1. She did not find the video funny.
  2. For those who claim she should have known this was comedy have failed to explain to her why it is so obvious to everyone else that this is comedy.
Before I do that I wish to make this point clear.  Later on in the comment thread she began to identify this video more as a Poe than satire.  Below is one of her comments.

Now on to answer point's one and two.  To explain this I will have to go into the past between the actor Jeremiah McDonald and SomeGreyBloke.  To my knowledge the first time I ran across Jeremiah McDonald was when Nalts was promoting ChurchofBlow. It was a series of videos written by organicprankster and performed by Jeremiah McDonald.  Below is a few of the highlights from that series.

Shortly after this series ChurchofBlow did a colab with several other YouTubers and was featured on the front page.  To this day this video remains one of my favorites.

Shortly after that Jeremiah McDonald put on the robe one more time to make this video.

For the record THAT video was the inspiration for my own video when I was on the homepage spotlight.

Another project that Jeremiah McDonald worked with SomeGreyBloke was his music video (he played the role of Benard Smith at 1:07)

Jeremiah McDonald created a character known as Benard K Smith where he portrayed a young cocky actor.  Much of his work can be seen on the WeepingProphet channel.  Here is some of his work.

One Thousand Subscribers, and Cocktails For Two

In addition to the voice acting in the video My Internet's Gone Down, SomeGreyBloke provided Jeremiah McDonald with some animation work for some of his videos such as The Legendary Benard Smith.

So to answer BionicDance's question, so many of us knew this was satire because we were both familiar with the channel SomeGreyBloke and the actor who played Dan Cardamon.  In other words we have come to expect satire from both of these users.  Much in the same way my viewers have come to expect to see me either making balloons or dancing around in my underwear.

However, I will concede this.  If you are not familiar with either of these users then it is entirely possible for someone to take the video seriously, and I think this is where many of the people who are calling BionicDance out on are falling short.  The script was so well written and so well performed it does come across as convincing and only after taking a much closer look do you see the hidden gems of comedy and inside jokes that both SomeGreyBloke and Jeremiah McDonald are famous for.

Let's start out with the scene.

First to the left we have Pinkie Pie from My Little Pony.  While many people are proud to be Bronies usually they will feature a huge wall of collections not just one small horse.  Now the horse has been in every Dan Cardemon video so far but the small whiteboard that changes with every video.  Although I can not be sure I think it may be in reference to a recent announcement by Reddit (notice the Reddit icon) that the Atheist (and politics) subreddits have been moved off the default home page.

The second clue is the part at 1:21 in the video where he makes reference to a now famous MRA rant about Scented F*ucking Candles.

Here is a dramatic reading of that rant

The origin of this rant is on the Spearhead website.  You can read it HERE.  Now I will admit I did not get the reference until I saw others comment about it in the comments section of the video.  I did some investigating to find the origin of the line and I feel confident I traced it back to the source.

I think instead of calling this satire we should call Dan Cardamon a poe.  Poe's Law named after Nathan Poe essentially says

Without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humor, it is utterly impossible to parody a Creationist in such a way that someone won't mistake it for the genuine article.

Poe's law can apply to just about anything not just Creationism.  Thuderf00t famously fell for a poe.  He has since updated his video description but still this lady had to go into hiding because some people posted her docs.

Girl prays to CAUSE Japanese Earthquake

And who can forget the Poe known as Edward Current and this golden jem from FranksVoice

Even I have played the role of a Poe now and then on my channel, usually around April 1st but I think this joke I played on ShockofGod is the best.

ShockofGod Fell for it

Satire is defined essentially as the use of humor, irony, or exaggeration to expose or be critical of something or someone.  In the video by Dan Cardamon there really isn't much humor in my opinion, but it could also be that my sense of humor is different.  Exaggeration certainly fits the bill, however I myself would label this video and the others done in the Dan Cardamon character as a Poe.  

So does this mean that the video was funny?  I think so.  I enjoy the content from SomeGreyBloke and I am a fan of Jeremiah McDonald and when the two of them work on a project it is always good in my opinion.  However I also can see the point that BionicDance was making.  The video was not an obvious joke, but then if playing the character of a Poe it shouldn't need to.  

On a follow up discussion with BionicDance she pointed out that she agrees with my conclusion that this is a Poe and the reason is because she has seen so many videos from Men's Rights Activists that echo these exact same points and she feels that Jeremiah McDonald did not exaggerate his position enough to make it an obvious joke.  However she was not able to produce such a video to compare it too.  Several people also took her to task on this in the comment section and after reading all 3 pages of the comment exchanges, yes there were three, she was not able to.

In my opinion, satire like all forms of comedy is subjective.  Some people take The Onion seriously.  If you don't believe me check out this link.  The radio genius of Phil Hendrie is another classic example.  He plays the role of host as well as the guests and gets people to call in thinking the show is real.  No matter how outrageous the claim is there is always someone who doesn't get the joke.  

BionicDance did not recognize this as comedy, she is in the minority on this one.  However I do disagree with her position that the video failed as satire.  As seen here.

Just like there are people who fall for the Onion, Phil Hendrie, and Edward Current, we have BionicDance who fell for Dan Dardamon.  And that is ok.  However I do disagree with her point that the video failed as satire because it didn't include a Wocka Wocka

UPDATE:  I sent this blog to both SomeGreyBloke and Jeremiah McDonald and both disagreed that the Dan character is a Poe.  SomeGreyBloke said he doesn't like the use of the word Poe as a noun.  and that still doesn't mean you have to have satire and poes.  He said that Poe's Law states that some satire is hard to spot.  He went on to say that it puts the onus on the viewer to do a bit of work rather than leaping to a kneejerk conclusion; especially if they are a skeptic.

SomeGreyBloke also posted this question to BionicDance which I think is worth seeing.

Jeremiah McDonald wrote a long essay and he said in the ending he may turn that into either a blog or a video, if he does I will link it here.  Nonetheless these are the points he made.  He says the intent of the Dan Cardamon character has always been to make people laugh.  He goes on to say this.

To praise [SomeGreyBloke's] scripts, I think he achieves this with Dan. A lot of the humor of Dan comes from him stating beliefs that, in the author's opinion, are self-evidently absurd. Part of it is from him coming out and stating the subtext that people like Dan diligently try to avoid. Part of it comes from skillfully lacing the counterargument into Dan's argument. (My favorite example of this is in the first script, where Dan explains that his atheism makes his misogyny more valid because he arrived at it through reason and logic, whereas a Muslim only hates women because they read it in a book.) I think the comedy is in the phrasing, and on my end, I try to bring it in the timing as well. I perform it with a straight face, yes, but if I was *really* trying to fool people, the timing would be very different.
He then goes on to say why the character of Dan Cardamon was created but I am not going to give that away here as it may be something planned for a future video, perhaps as a finale to the series.  However Jeremiah McDonald does say that Dan Cardamon's primary objective is to make people laugh and failing that his second objective is to annoy the people who actually think like Dan does.  

He closes his essay saying that it is unfortunate that BionicDance reacted the way she did, but that she is clearly in the minority.  That the character Dan Cardamon has received praise from Skepchick, PZ Myers and others.  

So to close this out, I can see their point about being hesitant to call Dan Cardamon a Poe.  It can be used as a label to describe something not as funny as satire would be.  Perhaps the truth is in the audience.  For some this is gutbusting comedy, for others it is a Poe.  That is the nature of comedy.  Each of us have our own sense of humor and obviously we are not going to laugh at the same things.  For example, I have watched many episodes of Saturday Night Live in an attempt to find out why this show stays on only to walk away bored.  I don't find their comedy funny, even when the actors themselves on their own I think are funny.  

The final point I wish to make is whether you think Dan Cardamon is satire or a poe the series is very well worth watching.  So thank you everyone who read this and thanks to SomeGreyBloke, Jeremiah McDonald, and BionicDance who each responded to my queries as I intended to make this blog post as accurate as possible.  

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