Earlier this month, in an act of boredom and due to the fact that I was on YouTube, I decided to give Donald Trump’s new campaign ad a look. “This should be good for a laugh,” I told myself. So I watched the ad, and my expectations were met. That was ridiculous. Who would vote for this guy? I can’t wait to see what the "Daily Show" does with this.
So, naturally, I watched the "Daily Show" and, again, got the exact experience I thought I would get. Trevor Noah dropped a few snarky remarks about what Trump was suggesting in the ad, he pointed out a few contradictions in Trump’s claims, and that was it. Turning to "The Rachel Maddow Show," I had a similar experience; the ad was thrown back in my face, and Maddow tossed her own remarks out in an attempt to make a fool of The Donald. I got exactly the amount of humor and comedic value that I expected from these shows.
But why was humor what I wanted?
It is easy to look at Trump and find him hilarious. Seriously, Google “Donald Trump hair” and try not to at least crack a smile.
He is such a larger than life figure that sometimes, the only response is to laugh. Here is a man who brings jokes about Rosie O'Donnell into a nationally televised Republican debate; a man who pastes his name on everything he owns, a man who wears his hair in a manner that can be compared to a pastry.
We view him less and less as an actual human being with actual sway in the world, and view him more and more as something that exists for us, and comedians, to laugh at and joke about. He is just so hilarious to us, and we tell ourselves that this is due to his character.
But what happens when we can’t stop the laughter?
We laughed at his Trump Tower because we labeled it as egotistical. We laughed at his joke about Rosie because it was so tasteless. And now, steadily over time, we find ourselves laughing at his ambition to drive all Muslims out of America because it is so ridiculous to us.
How is this guy the frontrunner? That man will never be President. These are our thoughts. And so, to confirm these thoughts, we run to the television to see what NBC and "Comedy Central" will say about The Donald. And what do these channels do? They show the clips over and over. They make the same jokes and point out the same contradictions over and over. But to what effect? None. No effect whatsoever on Trump’s campaign; his numbers continue to rise.
The only thing that these shows have accomplished is a mass desensitization of outrageous, sexist, racist comments from a madman, who is very much real, very much insane, and very much the actual front-runner for the Republican nomination. No amount of joking is taking that fact away.
And yet, we find ourselves growing more and more accustomed to Trump’s comments and checking in to find out his crazy statement of the day. We have made his rhetoric into a television comedy that we do not believe to be real. But guess what? What he said about Mexico building our wall to keep them out? What he said about banning Muslims from entering the country? That is his actual platform. And he is dominating this race.
So I am done with laughing at Trump, because, in my laughter, I have gotten dangerously used to his rhetoric. And in that desensitization, I lost my outrage. I lost my ability to take in the gravity of his words. So I’m done with laughing. I am choosing to replace that laughter with pure shock at what is occurring, because, in that shock, I have found my drive to respond to ridiculous rhetoric with words that I hope will produce action. Let us be people who call ridiculousness out not for our enjoyment but in an attempt to bring about real change.