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Revel with a Cause: Liberal Satire in…

Revel with a Cause: Liberal Satire in Postwar America (edition 2006)

by Stephen E. Kercher

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Title:Revel with a Cause: Liberal Satire in Postwar America
Authors:Stephen E. Kercher
Info:University Of Chicago Press (2006), Hardcover, 588 pages
Collections:Read but unowned
Tags:united states-20th century, popular culture, american politics, cold war, 2013

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Revel with a Cause: Liberal Satire in Postwar America by Stephen E. Kercher



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A sweeping history of one aspect of the liberal critique against the McCarthyism and the Eisenhower Consensus of the 1950s. Kercher takes you from the editorial cartoons of Mauldin and Herblock, through MAD magazine, the emergence of improvisational comedy theater and the rise & fall of the satire "boom" of the early Sixties. The climax of this being the film "Dr. Strangelove," which can be seen as building on the work of the proceeding ten years.

Besides considering a whole range of cultural projects that are often not well-remembered, Kercher is at his most interesting when examining the failures of liberal satire. Essentially being a product for young men by young men, it sometimes undercut itself with unexamined misogyny. Dismissive of suburban consumer culture, there was some failure to appreciate that for most people this beat the hell out of the alternatives. Also, when looking at the rise and fall of the show "This is the Week that Was," there is the matter that whatever the problems of speaking truth to power and making a living at it, these problems are magnified when trying to do so as a party loyalist; as Mort Sahl learned (for example) when he crossed the Kennedy Administration and found himself to suddenly be commercial poison.

Finally there is the small matter that, at best, satire is a palliative for social problems, and that if hard-hitting social critique via comedy seemed to fade as the Sixties rolled on, it was because what could be done with satire had been done, and that the way forward was through political action, with all its risks and sacrifices; see the careers of Lenny Bruce and Dick Gregory. ( )
  Shrike58 | Jan 9, 2013 |
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We live in a time much like the postwar era. A time of arch political conservatism and vast social conformity. A time in which our nation's leaders question and challenge the patriotism of those who oppose their policies. But before there was Jon Stewart, Al Franken, or Bill Maher, there were Mort Sahl, Stan Freberg, and Lenny Bruce--liberal satirists who, through their wry and scabrous comedic routines, waged war against the political ironies, contradictions, and hypocrisies of their times. Revel with a Cause is their story. Stephen Kercher here provides the first comprehensive look at the sat.… (more)

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