A liberal comic and an outspoken young conservative with a famous father take a road trip across America. Awesome.
When was the last time you saw Democrats and Republicans uniting in the name of comedy? Sarah Palin on SNL? (That was awkward.) Stephen Colbert at Bush’s White House Press Correspondents’ dinner? (Very, very awkward.) It doesn’t usually work…until maybe now.
Conservative blogger and author Meghan McCain is teaming up with lefty comedian Michael Ian Black to write a book called Stupid for America. Fer real. It’s going to be a road trip across the country—of course!—to talk to everyday Americans about why the system is “f-ed up.” Their publisher likens the duo to “Chelsea Handler and Hunter S. Thompson.” Don’t really get the Hunter comparison, but whatever—sounds hilarious!
Really, though, I’m weirdly excited for this book. Not because I want to see the two sides “find common ground” to bring back “civil discourse.” Not even because I’m a huge fan of either author—although I think it’s bad-ass that McCain has been on Maddow a few times, and I did love Black on “Adult Swim.”
It’s more that this book signals a kind of generational shift—younger people understand that political conversations can be playful, adventurous, and not always knee-jerk. More cynically: when it comes to politics, our culture of celebreality is the ultimate peacemaker. Comedians have been ribbing the other side since forever, but they usually don’t have the balls to crack jokes to each other’s faces. Perhaps this is our moment?
Out of the two, McCain particularly fascinates me. People have called her a RINO (Republican In Name Only). And given her stances on everything from gay rights to feminism, she may very well break with a party that has trouble supporting her social beliefs. But her work—and especially this pairing—serves as a reminder that the loudest GOP voices nowadays are, well, old. And stubborn. And super-serious. And pretty damn extreme. From the House of Reps to the Tea Party, conservative twentysomethings get ignored, especially ones with senses of humor.
Granted, there are armies of young evangelical Christians—we heard that loud and clear in "Jesus Camp" and books like Lauren Sandler's Righteous. But there are also a lot of conservative young people, regardless of political affiliation, who aren’t zealots. Our generation, both on the left or right, simply skews more socially liberal when it comes to things like immigration, gay marriage, and balanced parenting.
Salon’s Rebecca Traister said this when defending Tina Fey: "Ideology and political purity are frequently the enemies of all that is hilarious in the world.” Something tells me that Meghan and Michael get that.