Feature

Come on you cynics, look on the bright side

We live in the golden age of the smart aleck, said Henry Porter in the London Observer. Our popular culture

Henry PorterThe Observer

We live in the golden age of the smart aleck, said Henry Porter in the London Observer. Our popular culture—as reflected in journalism, advertising, comedy, or TV panel shows such as Mock the Week—is infected with a world-weary cynicism and scorn. It has become “a habit we can’t shake off for fear of seeming hopelessly naïve.” In contrast to Pangloss, the fool in Candide who found reasons to be cheerful even in the face of enslavement and imminent execution, we are beset with “Panglooms”—people who, despite living in a time of unprecedented plenty and ease, “believe with a vigorous but untested faith that we are all doomed and that nothing can be done.” This “knowing and fearful cool” gives a rather jaded feel to many contemporary comedy shows, stifling “real wit and invention.” And it has a similarly baleful influence on society at large, breeding apathy and a reflex distrust of politicians. “But it still seems to me that if we expected more of our leaders and the political process—and more from each other—we may get somewhere.”

Recommended

Italian journalist reporting on missing toddler finds the boy
A helicopter flies over an Italian forest.
right place right time

Italian journalist reporting on missing toddler finds the boy

Jamal Khashoggi's Saudi killers got paramilitary training in U.S.
Jamal Khashoggi
Jamal Khashoggi Murder

Jamal Khashoggi's Saudi killers got paramilitary training in U.S.

10 things you need to know today: June 22, 2021
Ebrahim Raisi
Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: June 22, 2021

Philippines' Duterte warns he'll jail people who refuse the COVID-19 vaccine
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte on a visit to China.
that's one idea

Philippines' Duterte warns he'll jail people who refuse the COVID-19 vaccine

Most Popular

7 toons about the Dems' Joe Manchin problem
Political Cartoon.
Feature

7 toons about the Dems' Joe Manchin problem

Stephen Colbert chides Catholic bishops for 'Holy Ghosting" Biden
Gitmo Tourists
Last Night on Late Night

Stephen Colbert chides Catholic bishops for 'Holy Ghosting" Biden

Bernie Sanders wants to know if cannabis reporter is 'stoned' right now
Bernie Sanders.
Sounds dope

Bernie Sanders wants to know if cannabis reporter is 'stoned' right now