Parks and Recreation and the Political Climate

The political sphere of today has become some what of a comedy fight club. With the rise of radical leaders, spewing anything and everything, there seems to be no shortage of material to satirize. As discussed in Emily Nussbaum’s “How Jokes Won The Election?” she dissects the humor of United States President Donald Trump. Trump is known for his outlandish vernacular, resorting to flabbergast statements and blanket assumptions to rile up his crowds. This type of humor is catchy; he is appealing to audiences like a master salesman. Every speech and public speaking event is an opportunity to tweak the pitch.

This kind of figure in real life lead me to make the comparison to a similar election staged in Parks and Recreation. Bobby Newport, a spoiled-brat trust-fund baby, is running for office against Leslie Knope. Even though this is obviously fantasy, this election is incredibly similar to the one run by Clinton and Trump. Bobby relays on his father’s money and power in the town to fuel his campaign, as he has no real understanding of the position or any interesting in actual make change. Compared to Leslie, who is a dedicated public servant and committed town member. He uses candy and ploys to attract attention, and is manipulated by the people around him as some sort of puppet.

In the clip below, Bobby basically begs for Leslie to just quit so he can win the election. His strategy of acting like a baby plays only off of his emotions. He is hot-headed and speaks without thinking about any of the consequences, calling into Nussbaum’s propaganda technique of “The Big Lie.” Newport’s character does spin the truth, turning facts into fiction. It’s scary that today’s political climate mimics this staged television show so accurately.

Nussbaum, Emily. “How Jokes Won the Election.” The New Yorker, The New Yorker, 10 Aug. 2018, www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/01/23/how-jokes-won-the-election.

4 comments

  1. This was a really good comparison and rightly linked to the Clinton-Trump election. It’s interesting, though, how Bobby’s character lets Leslie see his vulnerability (as well as his stupid reasons for wanting to win the election), as it’s pretty hard to imagine Trump ever acting in the same way towards his opponent –showing himself as a fragile person, even though he probably is.

  2. This is a supremely well-written blog post. You have a way with words, not only to make your post entertaining but also keep it highly academic. I agree with what you have written on Trump and “Parks and Recreation”, especially the comparison between Clinton and Trump’s presidential race and the race between Bobby Newport and Leslie Knope.

  3. Emily Nussbaum classifies Trump as a hot comic, Obama as a dry and urbane comic and Hillary can be hard-funny. Does Leslie Knope employ a specific comic type to avoid the no-fun mom stereotype and the finger trap that (particularly female) politicians fall prey to when they are serious in the face of the “big lie”?

  4. I think Parks and Rec is a great comparison to the article at hand here. I think there is also an interesting comparison to be made between the comedy of Trump and Bobby Newport because as much as Trump is outlandish, Newport is innocent and his comedy often comes from his blissful ignorance brought about by his money. I think the political comedy of this narrative would totally change if it were a mirror of Trump. Do you think it would be as funny? Also, do you think the political impact would be more significant?

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